It all started with celebrating birthdays at the library. A seemingly nice, simple gesture that would happen once a month and would be an excuse for getting snacks. That sounds fine, right? Over the course of a number of months, however, I have found myself in the midst of a scene from Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
First, the celebrations were little. We each contributed a dollar toward a snack that one of our coworkers would make. For the first two months, they were cupcakes. After that, we started singing happy birthday to the people whose birthday was that month. Coincidentally, this began in the month of our supervisor’s birthday. At that same time, we began getting bagels every month. The same kinds of bagels, with the same spread– reduced fat plain cream cheese and honey almond spread. Five months of this have passed, and I fear for the future of the minds of my coworkers.
Once we settled into the bagel tradition, prices went up. One month it was $1.50, then the next it was up to $2.00. The explanation for this was never clear. The importance of the bagels too has gradually increased. Now they are formally announced over the intercom, and this month there will be bagels on two separate days, since not everyone is there on the same day.
I should also mention the nature of bagel bonding. After singing happy birthday, the conversation gets very unusual, and it is hard to predict where it might lead. For instance, the woman who organizes the get-togethers asked our supervisor how old she was on her birthday. She declined to answer, but then the woman asked her where she was raised. Our supervisor, we’ll call her Peggy, said that she was born in one state but left the state right after she was born. Upon further prying, it was revealed that she had been adopted. Our organizer, Bobbi, said, “Oh, that must be why you’re in favor of adoption!”
In spite of the awkward conversation, people seem ever drawn to the bagels. The participants seem to be spending more and more time in the staff room on these days. The last two times we have had bagels, I have been saving all the change I have for laundry, and I’m not hungry because it’s right when I’ve just finished breakfast at home. Luckily, I think I have escaped being brainwashed. Today was a particularly suspicious bagel day. I got upstairs a little late with one of my coworkers, unfortunately just after they had finished singing happy birthday. We walked in, and a lady who has a birthday in April joked that we had to sing to them again. That was all fine, but then Bobbi said, “Have a bagel.”
I said, “I’m not hungry right now, but thank you.”
She said, “There are plenty. Come on, have a bagel.”
Again, I said no thanks, and she gave me a strange look. I stayed upstairs for a little bit, and then went back downstairs to get some work done before we opened.
Later, everyone received an email:
“It has come to my attention that people here are just not that into celebrating fellow co-workers’ birthdays. I was hoping we could pull together as a team somehow and get closer, but it is not happening. Only a select few are giving money for the bagels and not very many people are showing much interest.”