Office Treats Bring Out the Worst of Humanity


More likely, your manager is simply a jerk who, in addition, didn’t quite understand what was happening in that moment: that the treats were in recognition of your extra work. Is it possible she felt that she, as supervisor, had delegated the work favor to you, and that this was her thanks for effective management? This interaction is so strange and specific I cannot conceive of what a second instance of “this kind of thing” might be, let alone envision the conditions that would result in such events becoming recurrent.

(In fact, it is so specific that if your manager or anyone in her household ever sees this, they will likely instantly recall the day she brought “easily 18” mini-pastries home to the family mansion, which may make things awkward for you. If she has found these words: Madam, intentional or not, this was bad behavior, and you really should treat your subordinates to a box of the extravagant mini-pastries we all now know you can afford.)

What you could have done: The instant you sensed she intended to move the goodies to a second location said, “I’m going to send an email to make sure the team knows we got these as a thank you,” and then sent one. That way, even if she had, bizarrely, hand-delivered mini-pastries only to her favorite people — a group that did include you — she would have been publicly identified as their custodian. When team members came calling, you, innocent as a lamb searching for a fallen apple blossom, could have turned to her and asked, “We still have some of those mini-pastries, right?”

Mistakes become harder to correct with every passing second, and by the time she tucked that box under her desk with no protest from you, her error had become your reality. I maintain you could have corrected her then, even if awkward. (I encourage everyone to tolerate low-grade social awkwardness whenever possible; this improves character.)

I’m relieved this incident did not make you want to quit a job you like, where you apparently are liked or at least appreciated by your co-workers. You will be happier if you keep your interactions with and thoughts about your manager to a polite minimum, and focus on (1) those aspects of work you enjoy and (2) your favor-driven cultivation of generous supporters.


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