One of the most interesting things about offices is how they develop their own subcultures, complete with rituals and traditions. Here are some interesting office traditions that have been shared here in the past:
•. For close to 15 years now, dressing up as one of your coworkers has been a Halloween tradition where I work. It actually started when someone came dressed as me the first year. A year later, I waited until I saw what a coworker was wearing that day, got a co-conspirator to bring a matching outfit, and sat down next to them. People have worn the CEO’s face printed out as a mask. Nobody’s ever gotten offended by it, it’s just a strange tradition now. I think it has more to do with the culture and the intent than anything else.. our clones are in a spirit of fun and respect.
•. I live in a rural, farming community. We have an egg lady. Once every two weeks she stops by and delivers fresh eggs to a rotation of people who order from her. She is so cute – she wears a patchwork, brightly colored bag over her shoulders where she keeps all her eggs. When I first started, I asked a coworker who she was and they just said “That’s the egg lady.” No other explanation required, I guess!
•. I don’t know if this is strange, but I worked for a company that had an office massage therapist who came by every Friday. The massage lasted about five minutes focused on your neck, shoulders and back. Now that I think of it, I guess the strange part was all the moaning and groaning on Fridays! If you were unfamiliar with the office culture and walked into the cubicle farm and HEARD the massage but didn’t SEE the massage therapist, there must have been so many questions!
•. A weird tradition I’ve seen in several NYC law firms, pre-pandemic: A shoe shine guy going around the office on a regular schedule. He sits on his little box in the hall to shine shoes.
•. In Iran we had a tea man who was continuously busy bringing people very small glasses of tea, and sugar cubes to place in your teeth as you drank the tea. I did not develop that habit, but it was a necessary role in every office. This in 1972, thereabouts. It may be different now.
•. We have interns who graduate into permanent employees after finishing their PhDs. We have a strange tradition of making people recite their thesis topic in iambic pentameter.
Let’s hear about unusual office traditions you’ve seen or experienced. (Note: we’re looking for fun and interesting here, not depressing.)