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(Themba Hadebe)
(Themba Hadebe)

David Eddie's Damage Control

Was I wrong to do a victory dance when I got my bonus? Add to ...

The question

After ripping open my bonus envelope at the office Christmas party, I did a little victory dance, much to the chagrin of several sour-faced co-workers. Did I cross some invisible line here?

The answer


It's okay to tell everyone about screw-ups, disappointments and failures. It gives them a chance to be sympathetic and supportive, along with receiving an invigorating shot of schadenfreude, all free of charge.

But about our successes we need to be circumspect. You want to describe them so humbly it almost makes them sound like a setback.

That's what Canadian author Yann Martel did when he won the Man Booker Prize in 2002 for the Life of Pi. In interview after interview, Mr. Martel talked about winning almost as if it were some terrible tragedy that had befallen him.

I liked him for it. It was clearly an attempt to pre-empt envy among non-Booker-Prize-winning authors. And we appreciated it.

So be like Yann Martel. Tell your colleagues yes, you were elated at first - until there was a terrible turbo-whooshing sound, like an airplane toilet flushing, and the cash was sucked into the Vortex of Debt you're worried you'll never get out of.

Don't be afraid to lay it on thick. Pop your own balloon until you seem to sink back down to their level.

Because you don't want them envying you. As we all know, people plot and scheme and speak against people they envy, and you don't need (any more of) that.

Meanwhile, quietly bank the cash. And don't play poker with it. Poker, I'm guessing, isn't your game.

David Eddie is a screenwriter

and the author of Chump Change and Housebroken: Confessions

of a Stay-at-Home Dad.

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