Is this "eye" evil enough for you?

I know some people love Halloween, but can we keep it out of the office?

This is not to say that you can’t go out and have all the drunken, costumed fun you want with your friends after hours — I just don’t want to deal with it at work.

Remember, we’re not friends — I’m just barely tolerating you for 8-9 hours a day, and if I win the lottery, I’ll be flipping you off on my way out the door. I don’t want to be the killjoy, but it’s just that I think there’s no joy in this to start with.

Why?

Really?!

Hmmm — let me think…

#1: “I wish I could forget.”

Putting aside all the inappropriate costumes which I’m not addressing here, because I think the problem with those is obvious, there’s still plenty more who dress up on Halloween in the office, and there are consequences for doing so. Namely, we remember, or more accurately– we can’t forget. Seriously I wish people would think these things through:

  • When the 300 lb. nerd comes in a skin-tight Superman costume, there’s just no “unremembering” that. That was two years ago, and yet every time he sends out an email, I still think of the comment “I guess Doritos are his Kryptonite.” Even when I’m looking you in the eye all I can see is your junk in spandex.
  • Clowns. There is nothing in America more polarizing than clowns. Some people love them, some people hate and fear them. Do you really want to take the chance that your boss or your boss’s boss is a clown-hater, and that you’ll be condemned to dead-end work for the rest of you time at the company?

And it’s not just coworkers you need to consider before coming in looking like a fool. Last year we were desperately trying to hire someone, and no one thought that calling them into interview on the costume day was a problem. Two of the people interviewing were in full, ridiculous costume. The person never returned our calls after. When I pointed this out, I was told the costumes let them know “what a fun office we are”, which is problematic because:

  • We were going to expect that person to work very hard initially to catch up, so we needed a serious, motivated person.
  • We’re not a fun office. We’re the opposite of fun– we’re overly political, nitpicking, backbiting, gossiping jerks, and that’s just my boss. And one day of costumes doesn’t make us any less awful.

Finally, a meeting on Halloween is half straight and half scary, so it looks like when The Addams Family visits their neighbors.

#2: The Enthusiasm Gap

There’s always an enthusiasm and creativity gap at the office Halloween party. Some people go way over the top, and others phone it in. Two years ago one of the managers criticized people who didn’t put much effort into costumes. Really. Where in our job descriptions does it say we have to have good costumes? “Oh, I see here that you have an engineering degree from MIT, but what was your costume last year?”

My biggest concern is that our job performance should not be judged by our costumes. Any attempt to correlate effort in costume to success at work is ridiculous and insulting. The boss who criticizes someone for not being in the spirit ends up sounding like the restaurant manager in Office Space complaining that she has only the minimum pieces of flair. We have enough lazy, stupid people not pulling their weight, so it’s a bad idea to encourage them to divert what little effort they actually put into the job into picking out a costume.

And don’t get me started on when they give out a prize like getting a paid day off FOR THE BEST COSTUME. How about a paid day off for working all weekend on the presentation that won a new client? Or for working late for two weeks to launch a project that had to meet a ridiculous deadline, especially considering none of us get overtime?

But the thing that always makes my case about how ridiculous things have gotten is the voting for Best Costume. Because that’s when it all goes horribly wrong. When the shy girl wears the same costume as the popular girl, but the popular girl puts almost no effort in and still gets more votes. It always happens. Priceless.

And then there’s the cruelty. One year a few people voted for an annoying coworker who wasn’t in costume and he won for his “douche costume”. It may have been deserved, but it was mean. And the people who put on earnest costumes and made an effort were mad because the prize didn’t go to them, which it should have. I almost regret what I did.

So, in conclusion…

Halloween in the office is great if you want to see your coworkers dressed up, spend way too much time competing for something that won’t help us go home on time, or if you’re into something that creates new opportunities for favoritism and hurt feelings.

Let’s just skip it and save all our resentment and hatred for the work that pays the bills.

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