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Thursday, January 17 , 2019, 3:42 pm | Overcast 61º


Tom Purcell: Office-Party Christmas Spirit Runs Afoul of Political Correctness

“You almost got fired because your company had a holiday party? You’re going to have to explain.”

“Look, where I come from, we call holiday parties ‘Christmas parties.’ Nobody told me I was supposed to avoid anything relating to our country’s Christmas tradition.”

“What did you do?”

“Well, the owners of my company threw our holiday party after work one evening. Thanks to me and the boys in the sales department, the adult beverages were flowing. That’s when the Human Resources director threatened to can me.”

“You were unaware that many organizations no longer serve alcoholic beverages due to liability issues and the fact that some religions and cultures are offended by the consumption of alcohol?”

“That’s right. As far as I was concerned, we were having a normal Christmas party. That’s why I brought a Christmas tree.”

“You didn’t.”

“Look, I figured everybody would love it, but HR threatened to fire me if I didn’t remove it. HR said I was creating a hostile work environment by being insensitive to people of other faiths — that even though the Supreme Court ruled that a Christmas tree is a secular symbol, the only acceptable tree would be a ‘diversity tree’ that represented everybody’s point of view. But then I got into trouble again.”

“What did you do next?”

“Well, me and the boys in sales had gotten pretty well oiled before HR took our hooch away, and we love to sing when we’re liquored up. We started singing Christmas carols like ‘Silent Night,’ ‘Hark! The Herald Angels Sing’ and ‘The First Noel.’ We were working our way through the ‘Hallelujah Chorus’ when HR called me in again and complained that the Christmas carols we sang were offensive to members of the staff who were non-Christians. She said I’d better knock it off or she’d process my pink slip.”

“You didn’t knock it off, though, did you?”

“Nope. You see, me and the boys in sales slipped outside to have a few more snorts of whiskey, and when we got back, one of the hottest ladies in Accounting walked into the room. You wouldn’t believe some of the clothing she wears to work — or, to be more precise, the clothing she doesn’t wear.”

“Please don’t tell me there was mistletoe.”

“How’d you guess? The boys bet me 20 bucks I could coax her under the mistletoe and give her a little peck. Silver-tongued devil that I am, I began commenting on how great she looked in her scanty duds when — ”

“HR threatened to fire you?”

“Bingo. The Accounting babe dresses like a pop star and I’m the one who gets into trouble for commenting on her lack of clothing? I don’t get it.”

“I read about similar Christmas office-party woes in several news reports. As our workforce has become more diverse — Americans have so many different social styles, religions and points of view these days — more companies are no longer sure how to handle Christmas events.”

“My company handled it by taking all the fun out of Christmas.”

“Well, in our lawsuit-crazy world, companies are afraid to serve alcohol. And their fear of being insensitive to people of diverse faiths and points of view is the reason many are abandoning traditional Christmas parties in favor of dull, generic, daytime events. Though you have to admit you were awfully boorish and brash at your Christmas party.”

“I admit it. But me and the boys in sales have been boorish and brash every year. It’s just that nowadays, HR will threaten to fire you for it.”

Tom Purcell, author of Misadventures of a 1970s Childhood and Wicked Is the Whiskey: A Sean McClanahan Mystery, is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review humor columnist; syndicated by Cagle Cartoons. Contact him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter: @PurcellTom. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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