History is apparently written by the victors. Well if I’m writing this, we must have won, yes? There was them and there was us, always has been and always will be. Over the years who was them and who was us changed, sometimes back and forth between the sides. Every new recruit gets observed, courted and eventually won for one team or the other.
Although usually a team falls within one side or another, it’s not as simple as a complete department allying with a single side. Same with floors. Sales and marketing against IT would make sense, or 4th floor against the 7th floor maybe. But someone in IT on 4th floor who upsets someone in IT on 7th floor would be just as likely to kick off the next round of warfare.
There are periods of lulled hostility but it is rare for many weeks to pass without some incident causing a flare-up. It doesn’t matter whether the offence is accidental or intentional, the effect is the same – acts of aggression abound. Take this most recent salvo.
One of them hid the stapler that one of us was just about to use for finishing the weekly management reports. So one of us stole one of their staplers and used that instead. Then, four of us stayed late and emptied the staples out of every single one of their staplers, leaving them in a heap on top of a cistern in the disabled loo. All of them instantly blamed all of us and en masse went to see the manager. Whilst they did that, all of us retrieved the staples and reloaded the staplers so that when the manager came to investigate everything was as it should be. Oh how us laughed.
The end of that week was quiet but the following Monday morning, we discovered that one of them had sellotaped all of our pens and our keyboards and our scissors and our staplers and our mice to our desks. It must have taken them hours and dozens of rolls of tape. We huddled in the tea room, stopping them from reaching the kettle and glaring if they even tried to get in the door. We had a plan. Nobody would do any work and when the supervisor asked why we would show them. But whilst we were in there, all of them had been undoing the tape and there was nothing to show anyone after all.
The current cease-fire came from us, or more specifically, from me. It was accidental really, but I don’t let on as everyone swears it is the happiest the workplace has been in a long time. Cakes, is all it took. Cupcakes, made by me and shared around everyone. I’d made them for a party but got the date wrong so was left with three dozen pink-frosted cupcakes in heart-patterned cases. I ate four and saved a couple for my neighbour but took the rest into work. I was putting them onto desks early one morning before most people were in and left one on the desk of one of them by mistake. I was heading over to take it back when she arrived and saw me handing them round the office.
She was delighted and helped me distribute the rest of them, and then the entire office had cupcakes and morning tea together. And now we have a rota and every week someone, them or us it doesn’t matter, brings in sufficient cakes for everyone to have a whole-team tea and cake break together.
I’d say it’ll never last but we do all love a bit of cake.