I have a workplace situation that I’m not quite sure how to handle. I’m Jewish, and the guy in the cubicle next to me is Christian and VERY into Christmas. He decorated his desk with bright lights, put up a giant Christmas tree that partially blocks the entrance to my cube, and he plays Christmas music at top volume, all day long. He is also a big believer in the war on Christianity and complains about it every chance he gets. Now, I actually love Christmas, and I have no problem the decorations and enthusiasm, but the constant music, enormous tree, and frequent rants are beginning to affect my work. I don’t want to sour my relationship with the guy, as we work so close to one another and he is generally a great cube-mate outside of the holidays, so how do I ask him to tone it down nicely, without coming across as the angry non-believer?
Holly Jolly Jewish Girl
Dear, dear, dear, dear, dear Holly Jolly,
My precious potato pancake, I fear I do not have great news for you. In fact, my comments will likely only serve to unnerve and agitate you. Are you prepared, HJJG? Have you found a comfy seat, tucked your legs up, and snuggled down under a cashmere blanket, possibly with a warm cup of mulled wine cradled between your two recently moisturized hands? No, you say? You’re at work, you say? Ok, then. I will exercise superior patience and wait for you to get situated.
There we go. Much better, yes? How surprising that your company conference room has both a cashmere blanket and hot mulled wine in supply! You must work for Santa Claus himself! Now, quick to the matter at hand, lest I think about this too much and start to doubt your situational sincerity, my little latke.
You see, I believe the problem here lies not with your one obnoxious coworker, but within the whole of society itself. Your jingle-jangling cube-mate is likely going on the yuletide offense because he believes that people of other faith are judging him, yourself included! Rather than politely requesting a dial-down on his unprofessional display with a mutually-agreeable compromise, you should turn this situation into a teachable moment, Hol-Jol. Let him play his carols and flash his lights – and let him see that you, in all your Jewish glory, are perfectly fine with it. You’re not hating Christmas! You’re not judging him for his beliefs! You’re not writing into a total stranger’s website to try and silence his holiday cheer! Now, to truly reinforce the lesson, you may have to play up the Jew a little bit so that he truly gets the point. Maybe speak in a more nasal tone, perhaps start haggling with the company cafeteria’s lunch lady on the cost of a bagel with schmear. If you have to, forgo calling him by his name and refer to him only as “bubala” when speaking to him. It might be hard, and you will definitely have to suffer through the rest of the holidays, but I think it’s worth it to fight the stereotypes, no?
As Larry David once famously said, “logic dictates that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Or the one.” Powerful, indeed.
Merry Hanukkah, Holly Jolly, or however it is that you celebrate the birth of our lord and savior Jesus Christ!