BossBitch: Mad Men
My office has an alcohol policy that makes me very uncomfortable. On Thursday and Friday afternoons there’s a culture of drinking at my office. Sometimes it happens other days of the week. Apparently, my coworkers think they’re in Mad Men. It’s an advertising agency and I seriously don’t know if they drink to emulate Mad Men or if the Mad Men stereotypes are just really accurate. I do drink, I don’t have a problem with the actual consumption of alcohol, but at the office it always feels like a test I can’t pass. I’m the youngest person and I’ve only been there a few months. If I do take a drink, I feel like the little kid who thinks they’re grown and can drink on the job. If I don’t take a drink then I’m the prude kid who doesn’t know how to have fun. What should I do?
My office has a similar policy. But my office is my living room, so it’s different.
Seriously, though this is an interesting dilemma. I think most of us wish we could drink on the job, but would feel similarly if given the opportunity. It’s a situation ripe with potential disaster. But I think your issue stems from your own feelings rather than your coworker’s. It sounds to me like you don’t feel comfortable at your job or with your coworkers yet. If these were your close friends and if you’d been there for years, I doubt you’d feel like you were being tested. They probably don’t see you as a kid. If they do, that’s likely more threatening to them than anything else. A kid in the ad business means innovations, new ideas. Or your coworkers might be dicks. I’ve met some ad people. They’re mostly dicks. This alcohol policy might be a way your coworkers form cliques and sift out their office favorites. Or they might just hate their jobs and want to get blasted everyday. Who knows!
I seriously doubt that the people who’ve been there a while are thinking about this as much as you are, but if drinking in the office makes you feel weird, don’t do it. It’s not worth it just to fit in. If you want to drink with these people but not in the office, suggest happy hour. Find a place that feels safe and get to know them in that environment. Then they’ll know you aren’t anti alcohol and won’t think you’re judging them for drinking. You can always leave the bar if people start getting drunk and terrible, or if you do. Either way, you have an out that you don’t have at the office. Maybe drinking with them at a bar will make it less weird to drink with them at the office.
Before you do anything at the office, make sure the bosses don’t think less of those who take advantage of the policy. It might be a litmus test to see who in the office takes their job seriously and who is just there for fun. So check and make sure they join in.
And keep in mind, drinking in the office did NOT turn out well for most of the Mad Men.