Monday, March 10, 2008

Invisible Birthday

I don't know why it is, but birthdays are nearly always problematic for me. Today was no exception. I said yesterday that any birthday in which I don't cry is a successful birthday. March 10, 2008 met that low standard. Barely.

Fortunately it got better this evening. Much better.

There's an office procedure for birthdays at the business office of Famous Vehicle Dealer where I work. Birthdays for the month are written on a whiteboard over the refrigerator. Once a month, assuming there are employees born in that month, there is one birthday cake honoring the people on the whiteboard. Individual recognition consists of the birthday person's desk being decorated with banners and such the night before after the person leaves, possibly a card (but not always), and individuals saying a cheery "Happy Birthday" over the course of the day.

But last week, I noticed that my name wasn't on the whiteboard with the other March birthday people. Okay, fair enough: I've only been there six months, and someone hadn't yet found out when my birthday was and added it to the master list. So I asked who was in charge of such things, and watched as she typed my name into her birthday list. My name was then duly added to the whiteboard. Success! That took care of that problem, right?


Today was my birthday. The whiteboard said so. But I opened my office door this morning, and there were no birthday decorations within. I figured I'd probably closed the door (which automatically locks) on Friday, and the other person who has a key hadn't known there was a problem.

But no one said Happy Birthday. No one.

I decided to make an experiment of it. I didn't remind the person who wrote down my birthday info less than a week ago, or speak to my kind but busy boss, or throw a hissy fit of any sort. I simply did my job, and waited to see whether at some point during the day someone, anyone, would notice it was my birthday. They didn't. I was bummed out, and angry with myself for caring. After all, a birthday is a slippery, idiosyncratic and nebulous holiday. It generally only matters to the person born that day (and sometimes not even that), along with a few friends and relatives. Why should anyone who sits fifty feet from me care what day that shy woman who replaced Carole happens to have been born?

At 2 PM I told the mail runner about the situation, because she and I went through that one self-actualization course together and I like her a lot. If anyone heard, they ignored it. Then at 5 PM I told one co-worker, and then went home.

This is not the first time I've been completely forgotten at work on my birthday.

But okay, that's over. Shake it off. Don't be a martyr about it.

At home, it all turned around immediately. My email was fully of happy birthday greetings from many of you wonderful people. Howard came through with his usual Amazon gift, which is more appreciated than he realizes. My brother called. Borders sent me a 25% off birthday coupon. And before he took me to dinner, John gave me this:

Hey, nice box. Tres moderne. What's in it?

A stuffed toy dog? Umm, okay. Look under the lid? Oh!

Fantastic! Could be my Best Birthday Present Ever!

That even makes up for the fact that I haven't heard from my dad yet.



Laura said...

i am late (wireless was down). that's too bad about the office. i do love the puppy gift! i can't wait until the real pup arrives for you! well, a belated happy birthday from me to you. here's hoping that the year gets better and better and better!

Jama Hameed said...

Happy belated birthday to you!
that's a cute little gift.

Martha said...

Sorry about what happened at the office -- that royally sucks! Your gift definitely made up for it. I can't wait to see what you chose!


barrettmanor said...

What a sweet gift. Okay. I'll tell you my birthday story (like you, a birthday without tears is a good one) via e-mail. It's something I still can't write about on my own journal, let alone someone else's.

Florinda said...

And THAT is the reason I try to take the day off from work on my birthday; if they forget or otherwise don't acknowledge it, I won't care, since I'm not there. It makes for a much less stressful day in general.

You made it, though, and you're getting a puppy! Glad your birthday ended up a better day than it started out.

Janet said...

Happy Belated Birthday!!! Oooh a new dog! Do you know what you want? Have you started looking for breeders yet? Wooohoo!

DesLily said...

that's me.. always a day late!.. I hope you are STILL having a great Birthday Karen! .. have you picked a name for the pup yet???

Mike said...

That stinks about work. Happy belated birthday. I know you will enjoy the puppy. Make sure you post picture of the new puppy. I'm sure you will.

Astaryth said...

Better Late than never..... Happy Birthday! And I can't wait to see what kind of puppy you pick out. What a wonderful present. DEFINITELY made up for the work thing.

Arachne Jericho said...

Happy birthday!

And many hugs.

Becky said...

Oh dammit. I had it in my mind a few weeks ago that I was going to send you a pumpkin anything for you birthday and I spaced. John and I both agree about something. We like to be spontaneous and dislike set gift-giving events. If a person expects a card or gift and they don't get one, it's a bummer. BUT, if it's a given that you may or may NOT get something, then you don't expect. And when you get a surprise gift at some other odd moment, it really IS a surprise. I know. We are weird. But it works for us. Sadly, my mother has heard this explaination a million times and still gets annoyed when I don't give her a personal Christmas and birthday card. LOL I'm really bad with thankyou notes too. Tyler is nearly old enough to write his own...and just in time too. I've procrastinated and missed sending them after his last 2 birthday parties. I remember Max's tho. Aye me. We'll see if this year I get a birthday surprise or not. I never know. ;-)

Saqib said...

"Why should anyone who sits fifty feet from me care what day that shy woman who replaced Carole happens to have been born?"

That's so sad it's like being picked last for games. ho hum.

Happy Belated Birthday!