Sunday, December 18, 2011

Holiday suck-up

Here's a cautionary tale with the holidays approaching:

During one December in my residency, I was doing a clinic with a resident that I didn't get along with super well named Jimmy.

When he arrived at clinic one morning in late December (1/2 hour late as usual), he announced that he had Christmas presents for everybody. He had an individually wrapped present for each of the three nurses we work with and for our attending.

Honestly, when I'm pissed off, I usually keep my mouth shut. But this got me beyond pissed off.

"So," I said, "you got a present for everyone in clinic, huh? You didn't get anything for me, did you? If you're going to make me look bad, you could have at least gotten me a present."

Jimmy: "But... I just wanted to get everyone a thank you present..."

Me: "Blah blah blah."

I absolutely did not want a present from Jimmy, but honestly, how shitty does it make me look if he buys a present for everyone in the clinic and I have nothing? He could have given me a heads up that he was going to do that or offered to go in on something with me if he felt so desperately compelled to give gifts. Plus, he gave a present to the attending which is just... well, you know. I've given a few boxes of chocolates to attendings but only to thank them for something very specific. (Like when one attending gave me a TON of used baby clothes and toys or one wrote me a letter of recommendation.)

I didn't bring it up again, but I was honestly so angry at him, I wanted to cry for a little while. I thought everyone was going to hate me now because I was the resident who didn't give everyone presents. I tried to redeem myself by seeing three patients out of turn while Jimmy was still struggling to get through his one new patient. (The attending said I didn't have to, but I figured I should in lieu of a present.)

Anyway, at lunch, all the residents were chatting and a few of the girls brought up the fact that for the second year in a row, our junior chief resident had bought presents for every single attending in the department, even the ones he never worked with. (This was also the second year in a row that he was the resident who got Christmas week off. Not sure how he maneuvered that.)

"What a kiss ass piece of shit," she said. Everyone else agreed. Jimmy was silent.

After the girls left, Jimmy said, "Gee, I didn't think about it that way. I guess I shouldn't have gotten those presents, huh?"

Damn straight. He was probably just grateful I didn't mention what he did to the other residents.


  1. Far as I'm concerned, best way to give something to a team for Christmas is to bring a big batch of baking (ex cookies / cinnamon rolls) and let everyone at 'em. That way you can't overlook anyone; everyone there that day gets a treat.

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  3. I'm usually on-board with your criticisms, and I can see how that would make you feel upset, but really, you just wrote a blog tearing apart a guy who tried to get individualized presents for everyone in clinic except for you. That sucks, but the holidays can be a stressful time and if an individual wants to go out of their way to make this time a little brighter with individualized presents (much more personal and enjoyable than a box of cookies ect) why should we assume the worst and make them feel miserable for it. If you are really upset by this kind of thing you could be proactive and set up a secret-Santa type gift exchange so that nobody gets left out and everyone knows what is expected of them. Please don't be mean to people for doing nice things.

  4. @Stormhold - generally, if someone comes in with presents for "everyone" and you're not included, that sucks. Really sucks. And you'll see it from a lot of med students/residents/etc, that they feel "behind" if they don't keep up with their fellow students. IE, Cartoondoc looked bad because she hadn't gotten presents for them but Jimmy had. It's embarrassing.

    And she wasn't the one that called him a suck-up...though it really does look like it when people do that.

  5. I agree...if Jimmy was REALLY trying to make a nice holiday gesture for everyone (as opposed to sucking up), he could have done something that would include everyone. Residency sounds sucky enough already without being ignored by a fellow resident, especially over the holidays =/.

    I don't know how big residency programs can get...but it can't be too much more difficult/expensive to get something small for fellow residents. I would be pretty damn happy with a candy cane. Especially the little ones you can shove in your mouth and devour in between assignments.

  6. I would have been totally OK with it if he'd just brought a big box of cookies or chocolates for the whole office. I actually do that all the time and I enjoy bringing something that everyone (including myself!) can enjoy. I felt like getting actual presents though crossed a line of sucking up. And it definitely made me look bad by comparison.

    And even Jimmy eventually admitted he was wrong to do it, and not even because of my prompting.

  7. Also, I should add that of all the people who got a thank you present, I probably deserved one the most, after picking up Jimmy's considerable slack through the entire rotation. I actually had an extremely long Weekly Whine dedicated to my time with Jimmy, but I got to actually like the guy (after we stopped working together) and I didn't want him to discover it and be hurt.

  8. To be honest... to me, you come off worse from this story than Jimmy does. Yelling at someone for buying everyone Christmas presents? The situation isn't really the same as the guy who bought all the attendings who they'd never worked for presents; why suck up to the nurses if it's all careerism?
    The real problem here seems to be that it made you look bad. I can see how that would smart, but you could have bought presents too. And apparently you do, regularly... does Jimmy have a blog complaining about the suckup who brings in chocolates all the time? The fact that you felt you looked bad should not really be reason enough to deny everyone else a festive gift.

  9. I like to give gifts, too, especially to people who I appreciate. However, I probably wouldn't buy one for a peer who didn't like me or get along with me. So maybe that is why you were left out? I don't really think Jimmy was in the wrong here. It seems like a nice gesture to buy the nurses and attending something. Unlike the other guy people were griping about, he had actually worked with these people.

  10. mcpheja1: Well, if you were working a clinic with someone else and they come in the last day before the holidays with individually wrapped gifts for everyone (except you), without giving you a heads up or offering to let you go in on it, making you look like a schmuck around people you work with daily, you might not react so positively. Especially when that individual has spent the entire rotation showing up late, leaving early, seeing *literally* half the patients you do in a given day. It was pretty much the last straw for me.

    I don't bring chocolates all the time. Occasionally I'd bring something I baked, but not that often. And if Jimmy had done that, at least I would have gotten something yummy to eat.

    But recently when it was nurse's week at work, I asked the attending I worked with if she wanted to go in with me on some treats for all the nurses (she did). I didn't just bring in some huge array of great stuff and let her look bad in comparison. It's just wrong.

  11. I agree with you entirely. When someone says "everyone" they should include everyone! AND, while, as a guy, he was prob clueless to extend the courtesy of giving you heads would suck to be "one-up'd" by someone in the same competitive position that you were in.