I’m the Only Nerd in the Office Yankee Swap

Yesterday, my office held our annual Yankee swap. You, like Wikipedia, may instead know it as a white elephant exchange. This was my second annual swap with this group, and I had vengeance up my sleeve.

Last year, my contribution to the swap was the fancy Steve Jackson Games edition of Give Me the Brain. Now, I will admit, I was pretty sure going in this would not be received well by anyone in my office. I’m the only nerd on a team of designers, writers and other creative types. One person has ever copped to knowing who Tom Baker is and no one recognizes the Miskatonic pennant I keep on my cube wall.

The Yankee swap recipient was appropriately baffled, yet effusive in their excitement about playing games with their family. And yet, sometime in the summer months, while I was looking for thumbtacks or something in a supply cupboard of the office, what did I stumble across? Nothing else but the Pepto-Bismol pink box of Give Me the Brain, with a hapless Friedey’s employee gazing out in benevolent confusion.

Clearly, we had a booby prize on our hands. With luck, this thing could circle around the office for years and years as the Yankee swap gift no one wants, or was willing to say, “Hey, ditch that thing and throw in a growler of beer like an adult.” So, cackling with glee at taking revenge on such outright rejection of a terrific awful gift, I tucked the game away in my own little cupboard to wait for December.

Now, December 2014 rolls around. I start getting cold feet, worrying that recycling Give Me the Brain, even though it was so cruelly abandoned in a cupboard, is a poor contribution. So I make things twice as good by wrapping it up with the fancy edition of Chez Geek. At the very least, that puts something new in the mix of the Yankee swap.

The swap itself is pretty uneventful. There isn’t much stealing. The most contentious items are all chocolate or alcohol, and only one or two of those get swapped at all. My colleague who opens up Give Me the Brain and Chez Geek is completely bemused by this. She’s opened a stinker and no one’s going to grab it from her. As she opens it, at least a few people recognize that the bright pink box has come around again, and are reminded of the person who left it behind when leaving the office, so they’re guffawing over that.

The poor, puzzled owner of the board games wonders out loud if anyone who has kids would enjoy these. I’m not about to give any extra hints it was me who put them in the swap, but someone else seems to know enough to say they’re not kids’ games.

So the upshot is I got two more games off my shelves — more to go to little free libraries — and I feel a little bad about spiking the office Yankee swap with stinkers two years running. There just aren’t enough nerds — meaning there’s just me — in my department to make it seem like anything more than spoiling the fun of the Yankee swap with stuff no one’s going to want to steal.

Next year, I’ll choose something more square. Unless I go through with the garden gnome idea.

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