Gifts for Bosses? What Happened?

It was a news item I heard on the radio about the number of companies giving Xmas bonuses to their employees going down drastically, talking about how many companies were getting away from “a Gift for everyone” and going towards “performance-based bonuses” (read: away from the proles and towards upper management, because everyone knows they didn’t get enough $$ during the year). In it, there came up this odd statistic: only 21% of employees gave their bosses gifts for Xmas.

Okay, what’s wrong with that? Bosses are people too and there’s nothing wrong with giving him/her a gift. Usually it’s the smaller companies where the gifts go both ways (to both employees and bosses).

But there was something about the news item that still disturbs me. Like the movement away from holday bonuses, and the gentle chiding towards those of us who “forget to give our boss a gift.”

And a musical I saw years before re-lodged itself in my mind.

It was done at some small theatre in Flint, Michigan. I remember traveling from Lansing to see it, mainly at the suggestion of a one-time churchmate whom I had met a few weeks before. The musical was a romantic comedy, with three female co-workers, two men made out to portray the usual male stereotypes (a geek who has his job solely on technical know-how and general harmlessness, and a Don Juan wannabee tolerated because his pose is so haphazardly transparent), a stripper (a bit part), the lead female and the boss of the whole operation. (And yes, everyone is paired off in the end, even the lesbianesque coworker – with the stripper.)

The plot: lead female (a secretary) falls for boss, works to make boss fall for her.

The play was okay, but nothing earth-shattering; the stereotypes were pretty much stock by the time the play was done (especially the Don Juan wannabee) and the songs were packed a bit thickly in the third act for pacing. The fact that I can’t remember the name of the play shows how forgettable it was.

So why am I remembering the play now? Probably because the play suggested that boss-worker dating, something long viewed as taboo (or taboo enough for jokes and cartoons to be done about it almost constantly for years) was now acceptable enough for a musical to be made about it, betting the audience would be comfortable with the situation.

Sort of like the idea that the boss should be given gifts from the workers.

Interesting that the news item would come out at a time when corporations are cutting out workers from holiday (or end-of-year) gifts.

Very much like Robin Hood in Reverse: from the poor to the rich, all forms of tribute; only now we’re supposed to give willingly, out of a sense of true understanding of our place and what we owe them.


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