Sometimes you need some advice, whether it has to do with fashion, relationships, social norms or, this of time year, holiday customs. Because some questions may be too embarrassing or uncomfortable to ask friends or family, Inland 360 added a new columnist to its staff, a local rat known for delivering frank advice.
I’ve been invited to three (three!) white elephant gift exchanges this year, which I can’t stand. Do you have any suggestions?
— No More White Elephants
Dear No More White Elephants,
I can’t think why a person wouldn’t like receiving something that is free. But then, us rats have a thing for cheap garbage, which is what 90 percent of the holidays is about these days. Since you didn’t explain why you dislike white elephant gift exchanges, I’m offering a couple options on how to handle them.
Maybe you’ve been picking the wrong kind of gifts. Bring an item that you would want, like toilet paper. While humans tend to find this gift funny, they will most certainly use it to decorate their bathrooms. Maybe one day someone will catch onto the fact that it is the ideal material for a winter nest.
If you want to stop getting these invitations all together, you’ve come to the right species for advice. Rats are the masters of bad reputations. Earn the reputation of someone no one wants to invite to a party by bringing a terrible gift. I don’t mean life-sized-unicorn-statue terrible, I mean something that will make everyone attending relieved they aren’t going home with that gift, everyone except for one person, who will wish they had never come.
A puppy, for example, would be a terrible gift. So would a rat.
But you could begin with just a live goldfish, if you wanted something to work up to.
I wore my favorite Christmas sweater to an office party that I didn’t realize was having an Ugly Sweater contest and won first prize. I’m deeply offended. Now I don’t know how to approach my co-workers or my favorite sweater.
— Cute Reindeer Sweater Lady
Dear Cute Reindeer Sweater Lady,
You know what they say, ugly is in the eye of the beholder. I’m sure I’d think your sweater was grand, so I wouldn’t worry about it. Both you and your co-workers like your sweater, just for different reasons. If it makes you feel better, you can always go up to people at work and comment on their costume for Ugly Professional Attire day.
Do you have suggestions to make my office holiday party more enjoyable? They tend to be boring and uncomfortable.
— I’m Not the Boring One
Dear I’m Not the Boring One,
Despite what you say, you’re the boring one. Free food and drinks and you’re complaining? I’ll never understand humans.
Try not being so bland and uncomfortable yourself. Maybe you could host an activity that you think would be fun? Alternately, have you ever heard of alcohol? A lot of people use this at parties and I have to say, it’s always a good idea, professionally, to have enough that you’re not fully aware of your surroundings or behavior. The party will be less uncomfortable for you and less boring for everyone else. Your colleagues at the office will be talking about you for months, maybe even decades! Who doesn’t want to be the stuff of legends? I speak from experience. People might hate rats, but they never forget an experience with one.
I have a co-worker who wears jingle bells for the entire month of December. It was cute the first day, but she walks by my desk all day long, and I don’t think I can take the jolly tinkling much longer. I’ve had dreams in which I attack her and steal the bells, and I don’t want this to happen in real life. What do you suggest?
— Jingling All the Way
Dear Jingling All the Way,
Holiday cheer is the worst, isn’t it? So are friendly, happy people, which I assume this person is also. Use this against her. Tell her that jingle bells are made by underpaid child workers (this is probably true) and that the bells make you want to cry for their well being and that you’re surprised she would support such a thing. Or, that the tone of the bells can be heard through the walls and drive away native bird species. If that doesn’t work, you could always hire a jingle-bell hitman to do what you don’t have the guts to do yourself.
Got a question for the Advice Rat, holiday-related or otherwise? We can pass it on. Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org with “Advice Rat” in the subject line.