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Old 04-18-2017, 07:39 PM
navane navane is online now
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Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: San Diego, CA
Posts: 2,357
I have an etiquette question --

Here's the situation...

My co-worker "Tom" and his wife had their first baby about three weeks ago. I was coming on duty and Tom was going off duty when her water broke. That was perfect timing - I was coming on shift anyway. However, it was a Thursday and Tom was scheduled to work on Saturday. I figured that Tom would either still be at the hospital or, if his wife gave birth, he would want to be home with her and infant for the first few days. So, we were already planning for him to not be there Saturday. No problem! It's a legitimate family event and we wanted him to be with his wife.

Since I was the person on duty, it was my responsibility to call around to hire someone for the Saturday overtime shift. Just as a formality, I did contact Tom and left him a voice message and also sent a text message. I asked him if he could officially confirm that he was not going to be at work on Saturday so that I was clear to hire someone to cover for him. With my voice message, I, of course, added my best wishes for his wife and told him that we were all excited for him. He did not respond to the text or phone call -- of course, he was probably a little bit pre-occupied! So, I went ahead and made the assumption that he would not be coming in and then hired for the shift. (I ended up having to hire myself to do the overtime since no one else could do it.) Tom never phoned or texted me back.

I work two days back-to-back (Thursdays and Fridays). The following day, Friday, in the afternoon, I notified my boss that I was going to pick-up the OT because I hadn't heard from Tom and I figured his wife was probably still in labor. My boss then said, "Oh, Tom had his baby this morning." Uhm...ok. It's not as if my co-worker is obligated to share his personal life with everyone; but, if the baby had been born, I would have thought he'd shoot us a quick text or e-mail to say, "Little babykins was delivered this morning at 8lbs 2oz! Mom and baby are doing great!" If nothing else, he should have texted me back to confirm that he wasn't coming in for his shift. (!!!!) But, ok....he was probably tired and overwhelmed. I can overlook that.

Tom took two weeks off of work for family leave. I covered two of his shifts and another co-worker covered the other two. Tom came back to work this past week. Chatting with me and another co-worker in the parking lot during shift change, Tom apologized for being a couple minutes late. He said he had to go pick-up a gift (a very nice potted plant) from one of the office ladies and added, "You know, from one of the co-workers who does care that I just had a baby."

I understand that he was probably joking; but, that seemed like an impolite thing to say. Was I and the other guy obligated to buy him gifts or otherwise fuss over his new baby? Tom never invited me to his baby shower. In fact, from what I can tell, I was the only person from the department that he did NOT invite to the baby shower! (They had needed me to work the shift so that other coworkers could go to the baby shower.) Tom never sent me a text to let me know he even had the kid, the baby's name, or anything. Three weeks and he never "announced" his baby to us.

Normally, I would bring a nice gift for a co-worker who has just had a baby; but, I elected not to do so. If Tom didn't want to include me in on his personal life, I can absolutely respect that. But, he then turns around and wonders why some of us aren't fussing over him being a new dad? The message is mixed.

Did I break etiquette here? I'm feeling kinda "itchy" because I feel like the gracious thing to do would have been to bring a gift anyway. But, on the other hand, I don't like being treated with discourtesy and his poor manners don't seem to warrant a gift.

Gamma Phi Beta

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