DEAR MISS MANNERS: Our supervisor allows the office to fete colleagues with cake/refreshments for non-work-related life events such as pending births, nuptials and the like. Since these events are held during the workday, I am uncomfortable using my employer’s time to attend.
Further, because the lion’s share of these events celebrate colleagues across campus with whom I have no day-to-day interaction, I have little interest in socializing with them.
Is there a polite way to inform my supervisor that I no longer wish to be solicited or expected to attend these get-togethers?
GENTLE READER: Ah, yes, the great modern office problem: how to explain to the boss that you would rather work than party during office hours. Management has been so pummeled with the notion that workers must be friends that not wanting to eat cake with some near-strangers may seem like shirking.
Therefore, Miss Manners advises against asking for a general pass. You don’t want “Does not play well with others” to go into your file.
Instead, she is afraid you will have to excuse yourself briefly every time. Congratulate the guest of honor, and then say, “Please excuse me; I’m in the middle of some work I have to finish.” It will be more effective if you do not go off with a piece of cake.