The Purpose Of Birthday Cards

First, an introductory random note: There's a survey link on Fark titled "What would happen if a bag of holding was placed inside the Tardis?" I didn't follow the link because that's too geeky even for me. The topic has 199 comments as of this writing, so apparently a lot of people have strong opinions on the matter. That scares me.

Moving on. For several years now, people where I work get a card on their birthday. There's a birthday card folder, and they pass it around, and it gets signed by everyone on the team, including the person the card is for if people aren't paying attention when they sign it. Not paying attention is also the leading cause of condolence cards being signed "Happy birthday!" but that's a different matter. I always figured this was a nice gesture and I didn't think much of it.

A coworker's birthday is coming up, and he decided that he didn't want a card. Didn't see the point, I guess. I can sort of understand where he's coming from on that. He told, I don't know, management, or the person who usually keeps track of the cards, not to bother passing one around for him this year. He figured that would be enough, and they wouldn't have to spend the money on a card, and the issue would be resolved.

"Can you believe," he said later, to me and a few other people at work, "that they made me sign a waiver form?"

Yes. Apparently the birthday card has become such a given that they are afraid of what will happen if they fail to give each and every person a card. They actually feel that they need a signed form granting permission to the company to not buy a three dollar birthday card. What the hell kind of world is this when lawsuits are so ubiquitous that employees need to sign a birthday card waiver? My birthday is rolling around soon, and instead of a nice "Thinking of you" gesture, I'm going to see the card as something the company has given me to fulfill a legal obligation and avoid costly litigation:

"This card signifies that the company acknowledges the annual occurrence of your birthday in compliance with page 41 of the Official Company Handbook. Through the receipt of this card, you hereby acknowledge that the company did officially and within the bounds of law fulfill its obligations to you, hereinafter referred to as The Employee, on the occasion of your birthday, and furthermore acknowledge that the company bears no further responsibilities in regard to The Employee's birthday. The Employee releases the company from any future claims of liability, financial or otherwise, with respect to the birthday, or any damages resulting directly or indirectly from the receipt of the birthday card, including but not limited to physical injury or mental anguish resulting from paper cuts. Receipt of the birthday card does not guarantee The Employee a happy birthday or release him or her from any work-related responsibilities that The Employee is normally responsible for. Any disputes regarding this card shall be resolved via the company's Arbitration Process as outlined on page 73 of the Official Company Handbook."

And Happy Birthday to you too.

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