Birthdays Don’t Matter When You’re Old

Earlier in the month, I turned 50.  Now I really don’t care about birthdays, I haven’t for a very long time, it’s just another day and I treat it that way.  I guess when you’ve had 50 of these things, they just aren’t special anymore.  People who have known me for a long time at work know this and don’t pay it any attention.  I didn’t bring it up all day, but it was a bad day and I think I said something at the end like “what a way to spend your birthday”.  That was a mistake.

It was a mistake because the next day, my employees showed up with a cake and ordered lunch for me.  Now it isn’t that I’m not appreciative, I’ve got a great group of people working for me, but I just don’t see the point.  I survived another year hurtling around the sun.  Yay.  So we all ate cake and it was a nice break from the work day and for that I’m happy, I just don’t see the sense of the gesture.  These people are not my friends, they are my employees.  I have a great deal of respect for them, I like them all as individuals, but we just don’t have, and can’t have, that kind of relationship.  I have never gone out with any of them outside of work hours.  In fact, fraternization is a direct violation of the work ethic and company rules. I can’t treat them as anything but what they are: employees.  I cannot show any form of favoritism.  I cannot present even the slightest appearance of impropriety.  If something bad happens, I can’t risk terminating someone and having them come back with “you didn’t fire this other person because you’re friends”.  So I’m not friends with any of them.  I have to maintain that professional distance, just like any manager does.

But that said, I know this is something they do for everyone and I can’t say that I don’t take part.  Earlier in the year, I had two employees with birthdays on the same day and I took the whole office out to lunch to celebrate.  It helps with morale and makes them feel like the company cares about them, which certainly they, and I, do.  I bend over backwards to make sure they are all well taken care of because they deserve it.  So from that perspective, I respect what they’re doing because I do the same thing.  But for me personally, and I’m sure for a lot of older people, they find the whole thing a little silly, having been on this rock for a long, long time and celebrating the day you popped out of the womb seems a bit meaningless.  I appreciate what they did, but if it was all the same, I’d prefer they didn’t bother.  I won’t feel bad about it and they can just keep working.  It isn’t heartless to express a preference, is it?

One thought on “Birthdays Don’t Matter When You’re Old”

  1. Happy birthday, and yes, I think you have every right to express your preference at work, with friends, and wherever else you like. I feel exactly the same way when it comes to birthdays. I am fine with helping someone else celebrate theirs if they wish, but I have zero interest in celebrating mine. I think it is okay to communicate this to others.

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