“I had to lower your pay increase because I feel that you are not a 100 percent team player,” said Mrs. June, a partner at the firm that I worked for. I was shocked because I expected a positive review. But let me backtrack to where it all began. It was the day before Halloween one year as the office administrative staff, junior and senior managers were preparing for their annual Halloween costume party. It was my first year at the firm, and I learned that the partners judged the staff and awarded gift cards and prizes to the employees with the best costumes.
Weeks before Halloween, my co-workers were buzzing around and a few asked me what type of costume I was going to wear? I told them that I do not celebrate Halloween and would not be participating. The administrative assistant, Sheila, tried to warn me about not participating because she was afraid the partners would hold it against me. But I told her thanks for the warning, thinking she was wrong.
On Halloween, as those in costume roamed the hall, Mrs. June approached me and asked why I wasn’t participating? I told her that I didn’t celebrate Halloween. And her response was, why? I told her that although most people I know celebrate because they enjoy getting dressed in costume and hanging out with their friends, I know that the holiday has its roots in witchcraft and the occult.
Her response was that upper management liked for their employees to participate because it showed that the staff is working as a team. And by not participating, it may look like I am not a team player. I told her that I understood but that I would not be participating. To say the least, her mood was pretty nasty towards me the rest of the day and some co-workers avoided me most of the day. I was so glad when that day was over.
I didn’t give it another thought until July rolled around the next year. When I was meeting with Mrs. June, my upbeat/positive review took a downward turn, when Mrs. June referenced that she thought I wasn’t a team player. I asked her what she meant by that and her response was if I didn’t know, then that is why I didn’t get 100 percent in that area. Immediately, the “team player” remark that she made that Halloween came to my mind. I thought to myself, was I being penalized for not participating in the Halloween Celebration?
Yes, I believe I was penalized for going against what is popular. But instead of fighting against what was probably a losing battle and potentially losing my job while I was at that firm, I started using a personal leave day for Halloween, so that I wouldn’t be penalized for that anymore.
“Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver.” Acts 19:19