Wow. I was so not invited to lunch just now. I actually feel like I've been snubbed!
And to think there are some people who leave that sort of behavior behind in high school where it belongs. Who knew that cliques could thrive in an office of seemingly mature people. I shouldn't be surprised. All it takes is one insecure person thrown into the mix who selectively draws in a few people as friends and makes that friendship feel exclusive.
When it first started, I didn't recognize it for what it was. People can have lunch with whomever they like, right? And I don't like to go out to lunch. I ain't social like that. Except with the few people whose company I really enjoy. So whatever. I figured this group going out to lunch every day was just naturally made up of people who all wanted to go out.
And then it started to get weird. The core group of 3 lunch-goers started occasionally inviting a fourth person along. A different fourth person every time. It was like a sorority pledge. I was even invited along at one point (I declined). And slowly, the core group grew to 4, then 5. They would meet in the hall outside my office and discuss where they would go and whether they should ask this person or that person.
Soon it didn't stop at lunch anymore. The clique would meet in the morning to walk down the hall to the vending machine together. Even when only one of them wanted anything. I went along on that 30-foot journey once, listening to them talk about pretentious, trendy things like wine, "casual dinner parties," and the "no-reason" gift someone's boyfriend had given her. Meanwhile, I was turning over in my head the possibilities of what I could make for dinner in less than 20 minutes, prepared while holding a marvelously plump and squirmy baby on my hip, that my 6-year-old would actually eat. I laughed when they laughed, made the right comments and asked the right questions, but it was like swimming with dolphins. Nice and pleasant on the surface, but neither really understands what the other is doing or why.
And still, it didn't really occur to me that a clique had formed, until today. Just outside my office, I heard the clique say, "Let's just see who wants to come along!" They rattled off the names of most of my co-workers and scattered to deliver invites. I stared at my computer screen, with my attention on the group in the hall, waiting for someone to suggest that maybe it might be rude to exclude just a few people when we all work so closely together... or at least to notice that I, in such close proximity, could obviously tell I was being overlooked.
But either they didn't notice or didn't care, and oddly enough, I'm far more amused than offended. Maybe high school wounds form tough scars, or maybe I know myself well enough to realize that I'd much rather play on the internet at my desk than feign interest in someone's relationship problems or planned trip to New York.
So there. You're blog bait now, bitches!