Continued from yesterday's story...
The reactions to these gifts were about as varied as the gifts themselves. One of the first people in the circle ended up with the ham, and acted very happy about it. It was honestly hard to tell if he really wanted to keep it, or he was being absolutely sarcastic about it. But the longer he kept it and trading back for it, the less suspicious I became if it being a game of sarcasm.
I was most surprised with the mp3 players, and who they came from. The young guy was known as a prankster and a scammer, and all throughout the week he was excited about he had done up these gifts with a Makers Mark bourbon tag and other things that would supposedly throw people off. Yet inside were the little mp3 players. He ended up with the office chair at some point.
The paper says "Yankee Swap Gift #1"
It seemed that the "good" gifts people wanted the most were the bottles of wine. Nobody seemed to want the sled or the ergonomic pillow. The lady who ended up with the two romantic comedy DVDs was really pissed off. I'm sure it didn't help that my boss completely broke once of the cases when he stupidly tried to force it open, not realizing that it was one of those older DVD cases with the locking tabs on the side.
One of my co-workers was from Australia, and he and I ended up secretly laughing about the little hand statue showing the peace sign. Because when you do that gesture with the back of the hand facing the person, it's basically the equivalent of "up yours". This is known in the UK and Australia, but it's simply not part of American culture. The lady who ended up with it had it on top of her bookshelf for the whole floor to see. The winner wasn't the lady in this picture, though I do want to strangle her (more on that later).
The real "prize" though seemed to be that big jar of M&Ms. It was filled with a number of gift certificates, including I think a $25 one for Starbucks. Why somebody put this much money into a Yankee Swap gift, I have no idea. But this other lady ended up with it, and she was never ever going to let it go. Some people, including her, tried hiding her present out of view so that when people had the option of trading, they might have missed it as they looked about the room. Invariably though, one of the managers wanted to trade. And she refused. In defiance of all rules to the game, all office etiquette, and any hope of maintaining a good working relationship with this guy, she wrapped her arms around the jar and kept refusing to give it up. The manager eventually decided to be "nice" and trade elsewhere.
Man, what a bitch! The woman with the jar, that is. My low opinions of her were only reinforced as I talked to her on my last day and she revealed a few things about her personal life. That's a whole other story, but without getting into details, let's just say she treats wrapping paper better than the guys she dates. And to further insult to injury, she's not even "all that". That means rather ugly.
There was one prize though that absolutely NOBODY wanted. Was it the gnome with the bubble-blowing asshole? Nope. It was that box of 30 VHS movies I brought in! People were looking at that box, and me, as if I had brought in a box of Edison wax cylinders. Christ, folks. Is VHS really that arcane already? I know DVD is the standard format now, but come on. It's not like I brought in something your kids wouldn't still recognize. I guess I was dealing with a crowd that would call a movie like The Matrix a golden oldie.
I saw that box being passed around from person to person. One of the soccer moms (man, I hate soccer moms) announced that she had to leave early. Well if you do that with a Yankee Swap, guess what? You will not be there to trade your present, and will thus end up with whatever people jolly well give you. Needless to say, that box ended up with her.
Or so I thought. The next day, it was still sitting there in the common area. At the partial suggestion of my boss's boss, I printed out a sheet saying "This is your gift from the Yankee Swap" and I think even added "(Yes, you must take this home.)" When she finally came in, she brought the box over, picked out two Disney movies that she said her kids might like, and said she didn't want the rest. I told her in some form or another, "Tough! You left the Yankee Swap early, and now you have to take the consequences of that. This is what you ended up with. It's yours. It's your responsibility to take it home now."
You know the woman who I said I wanted to strangle? That was her. Somehow she managed to talk the guy in the desk next to me into taking the box. And of course, he just let it sit there by his desk. So instead of being clutter in my home, it was now clutter 5 feet from my desk at work, and I'd see that damn box every day, knowing what it was.
This really, REALLY pissed me off on so many levels. First of all, this arrogance of her to think that she shouldn't have to deal with this. But more importantly, this wasn't about VHS. This was about my psychological battle against clutter back home. You might think this sounds silly, but convincing myself to part with these items, let alone finding a way to get rid of them, and then doing it, was not psychologically easy on my part. I don't want to sound like some whiner playing the "victim" card, but this honestly was a mental challenge for me. Just when I thought I had gotten rid of it, it was still sitting there.
A couple of months later I ended up being laid off from the company, as was the guy who took in the tapes. But I wouldn't be surprised if they were still sitting there in that office. At least NOW I'm rid of it.
Oh, and what did I end up with for a Yankee Swap gift? A can of beer (which I gave to a co-worker; I can't stand the stuff), an elf action figure from the classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer claymation, and a $25 gift certificate to a local music & movie store. The figure still sits in my kitchen hallway collecting dust. But I'd like to think of it as having been able to sell off those VHS tapes for twenty five bucks.