Are you suffering from a syndrome I call “Simulated Holiday Amiability Malady,” or SHAM? It manifests itself in several ways, most notably in the workplace.
Here’s SHAM’s progression.For most of the year a person, let’s call him Schmeckel, will avoid you as one would a victim of Swine Flu, or abuse of Old Spice. Schmeckel is pretty sure you’re after his job, his office and premium parking space. It’s not true, but Schmeckel is a schmuck and sits alone in the cafeteria with an extra tray and an empty soup bowl so people will think he actually has a lunch companion who just got up to go to the washroom.
Snap! It’s Thanksgiving and SHAM carriers infect everyone they see with an obnoxious and insidious strain of false sincerity and feigned friendliness. “How you doin’!” Schmeckel may suddenly ask you. “Have a great Thanksgiving? Plans for the holidays?” Your soul tells you to invite him to enjoy a solo honeymoon, but you see, SHAM is terribly contagious. You are now obligated, against your will, to reciprocate the bogus buddy-buddy and reply you had a wonderful turkey with family and have big plans for Chanukah, Christmas, New Years, Groundhog Day and every day on a calendar that Hallmark cashes in on.
The most dangerous venue for contracting SHAM is the office holiday party. You have to attend because the boss will take 25 points off your annual evaluation if you don’t show up reducing your bonus to a Twix bar. For three or four hours you’re stuck in a small space with a large number of people who wish you dead but are all forced to put on happy, insincere faces, toasting, boasting, hugging, mugging, mentally barfing, for the benefit of convincing the boss he/she is lording over a homogeneous workplace, which enhances their chances of scoring a promotion to a position for which they are not qualified.
SHAM’s gestation period expires when the ball drops in Times Square marking the new year and, finally, the end of the holiday season. When you return to work on January 2nd, all of SHAM’s effects are instantly forgotten, its scars completely healed, and until that fourth Thursday the following November, you can return to a relaxing normalcy of honest loathing.