Wednesday, November 08, 2006


Let Them (Not) Eat Cake

Concerned observers of the white collar world are taking aim on cake in the office, of all things. According to the article at the link below, 74 percent of office workers report that cakes and other goodies are often served at special occasions such as birthdays, baby showers, promotions, departures and the like. Goodies are more likely to appear in the kitchen nooks of large and mid-size companies than in those of smaller firms, so this is primarily a corporate custom. Yet, at the same time, 53 percent of corporations promote healthful eating through one means or another. That is enough to induce cognitive dissonance in the millions of office workers in handy reach of vending machines that offer little more than candy bars, pretzels and potato chips. Nonetheless, as the article notes, the alternative is scarcely appetizing. Presenting a buffet of raw carrots at an office party is unlikely to generate enthusiasm.

I am not so great a spoilsport that I would begrudge cakes and cookies at office functions. Pizza, even. Only not for me. What I have observed - and have privately objected to - is the tendency of managers presiding at such functions to expect everyone to take a piece of cake, and to look askance at those who don't indulge. I suspect there are even some managers out there who have contributed to the obesity of their subordinates by imposing "party spirit" on the gathered as though it were an edict. I recall reading in an ancient book on American psychology - Gail Sheehy's Passages from the 70's - that corporate managers were expected to put on weight around the middle if they wanted to rise within the company. Considering the even greater prevalence of obesity nowadays, that may still be the case. I believe that corporations should have no control over what you eat and should not penalize you if you prefer fitness over stuffing your face. No matter what is offered at office parties, you should have the option to decline it.

"Taking The Cake Out Of The Office" from Monterey County Herald

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