It’s not my birthday. My birthday is soon, but because of a work vacation, I got to do the whole work birthday thing today. Here are a few things I learned about celebrating your birthday in the Korean workplace:
- Don’t talk about your birthday because then people won’t forget it.
- Your coworkers don’t know your name even though you know all of their names. So expect a pause after “Happy Birthday Dear —” until one of them is confident enough to say your name.
- You will have to cut your own cake. This is a simple skill, but you will forget how to hold a knife the second 10 Koreans are starring at you and waiting for cake. Especially if Paddington Bear and Korean Klark Kent just finished singing to you.
- You are cutting this cake to go into small cups and to be eaten with chopsticks, so cut small. If you don’t cut small, those 10 Koreans will laugh at your giant pieces of cake until you cut them smaller.
- You have to eat the cake. Even if you are lactose intolerant, and they buy you a cake covered in heavy creme. You have to take a piece and eat it. The peer pressure is just too much to handle. Peer pressure in another country is the most powerful kind.
I really hope I did all of these things. But in all the nerves about cutting a cake, I think I blacked out the entire experience. I don’t even know if I thanked anyone.
But the great news is, it’s not actually my birthday. So just a normal day is ruined.