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Redditor Stirs Drama After Missing Coworker’s Sobriety Anniversary By Taking Their Birthday Off

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It can be difficult not to take it personally when a friend, family member or colleague doesn’t attend a party or gathering you host.

More often than not, their absence is in no way an act of malice, but purely a scheduling conflict which made it impossible to attend.

But that won’t stop some people from worrying that people might have declined the invite because they were mad at them or didn’t like them, and others from simply taking offense regardless of the reasons why.

Having attended an annual celebration of their colleague’s for the past several years, Redditor PinkSteven decided this might be the year they could skip, and celebrate a different, slightly more personal occasion.

But the original poster (OP’s colleague was not at all pleased that they wouldn’t be there, and wasn’t afraid to express how hurt they would be by their absence.

Wondering if they were being insensitive to their colleague, the OP took to the subReddit “Am I The A**hole” (AITA), where they asked fellow Redditors:

“AITA for not consoling my coworker and explaining why I’ve decided to miss the anniversary of their sobriety?”

In a short and concise post, the OP explained why they chose to skip the annual celebration of their colleague’s major life milestone this year.

“Every year on August 30th my co-worker makes a big deal to inform everyone, staff and clients, that they’ve been sober from drug use for another year.”

“This year is year 27 and that’s a big accomplishment.”

“This coworker has a lot of feelings and is prone to think that a person is acting in response to them, often perceiving rejection, crying and self isolating until consoled.”

“I took August 30th off this year not because I didn’t want to be part of their self accolades or because I don’t think that it’s important, but because each year their verboseness overshadows my actual birthday which shares the exact day.”

“I haven’t gotten a ‘happy birthday’ from a coworker that wasn’t immediately interjected by their notation of their sobriety in the last 9 years of working together.”

“This coworker found out I wouldn’t be in the office on the 30th and is now saying I don’t support them.”

“We have worked together 9 years and they still don’t remember that the two event share a day.”

“So I don’t feel like I need to explain why I’m taking the day off.”

“I’m not the type to shout my important events to the world and, honestly, I would rather be in a place where I can just celebrate a day that is special to me without constant interjection.”

“AITA for not consoling my coworker and explaining why I’ve decided to miss the anniversary of their sobriety?”

Fellow Redditors weighed in on where they believed the OP fell in this particular situation by declaring:

  • NTA: Not the A**hole
  • YTA: You’re the A**hole
  • ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
  • NAH: No A**holes Here

The Reddit community agreed that the OP had every right to skip her colleague’s celebration and celebrate their birthday.

While everyone acknowledged that the sobriety of the OP’s colleague was, indeed, a notable accomplishment, they took the OP’s decision to skip the party too personally, with many wondering if it was even appropriate to be celebrating it in the office.

“It’s a great accomplishment but if they’re seeking validation from EVERY coworker, they need to go back to their steps.”

“They might be sober, but they ain’t in recovery.”

“NTA.”- TheDrunkScientist


“You don’t owe anyone an explanation for taking time off.”

“Enjoy your birthday!”- onablanketwithmybaby


“You all are at work.”

“Sobriety for drug user is a great, non-work-related achievement, and you’re under no obligations to celebrate it.”

“Again.”- napoleon_1066


“It sounds like this person is addicted to the narcissistic demand that people celebrate their sobriety.”- Nathan_Poe


“I think at this point your coworker needs to be told to just stop with the yearly update.”

“HR needs to get involved.”- Smudgikins


“Tell them you taking off for your birthday has absolutely zero to do with them and their sobriety.”

“Tell them support goes two ways and they aren’t supporting you and your choices either!”-Embarrassed_Hat_2904

“NTA there’s a line between acknowledging your accomplishments and being an asshole, your coworker has not found this line yet.”- hobitoftheshire


“Coworkers are not necessarily friends.”

“Sometimes they are, but some people prefer to keep the relationship as ‘people I work with’.”

“Both are fine.”

“This person is not your friend.”

“You can tell because friends remember each other’s birthdays, but coworkers aren’t necessarily involved enough with each other to do so without an office reminder.”

“This person is your coworker only, and you have no obligation to explain to them why you are taking vacation when you are.”

“I don’t explain my vacations to my coworkers either.”

“I just take them.”

“Honestly, this person sounds immensely self-centered with an incredibly need for attention from everyone.”

“But that’s not your problem.”

“I honestly wouldn’t even indulge them by commenting on it or trying to explain it at all.”

“They’ll just turn it into something they can use to get attention.”

“I would just keep it at ‘I am going to be out of the office that day’.”

“And hold the line that you don’t owe them any explanation for why you take vacation.”-Meemaws_BearCheese


“27 years of sobriety is a wonderful accomplishment, but not something that everyone in the world has to stop what they’re doing to acknowledge.”- NUT-me-SHELL


“Your coworker needs a serious reality check.”

“If they bring it up again say, ‘when I choose to take time off from work has nothing to do with you’.

“‘I am happy that you have remained sober, but that does not mean I need to schedule my work or home life around your sobriety anniversary’.”

“If they continue to give you a hard time, go to HR.”- Forward_Squirrel8879


“Your co-worker is self-centered and ridiculous.”

“Your life doesn’t and shouldn’t revolve around them.”

:They sound like they still have serious issues which they should be seeking therapy/counseling for.”

“It actually sounds like that traded drug use for narcissism.”- MadamPond


“Your coworker is being unprofessional and needs to calm the f*ck down.”- CygnusSong


“And your coworker’s behavior is more than a little unprofessional.”

“The fact that you felt the need to take an entire day off to get away from it says it all.”

“And that you’re evidently being given crap for doing so nails it home.”

“It wouldn’t be at all inappropriate for you to take this to HR if you felt like it.”- Veissella


“Your presence at work doesn’t obligate you to be a cheerleader.”

“Even if it weren’t your birthday, NTA.”- Result_Training


“Enjoy your day and tell your coworker you’re taking the day off to celebrate your birthday.”-SeaWitch1031

“27 years is no longer, in my opinion, a huge accomplishment.”

“27 years is probably half their life or more.”

“If after 27 years they are still fighting to stay clean they need help.”

“Major major help that atta boy/girl/other won’t accomplish.”

“Before anyone comes at me, I have been sober approximately 27ish years?”

“Maybe more?”

“It isn’t something I celebrated after about 10 years.”

“If I can make it that long I have it beat.”

“I literally would have to pull out a calculator and a calendar to determine how long I have been clean.’

“But I know the 25th of August is the anniversary.”

“27 years clean they should be at a point in their life that they aren’t even exposed to drugs and how easy is it to be around casual drinkers and say no thanks?”

“At this point- 27 years clean, it is just your normal life.”

“That is probable twice as long as they were using/abusing.”- Spirited_Bill_8947


“I’m sober, and have been for years, and this rings really hollow for me what they’re doing.”

“It’s performative at best.”

“Yeah, we make a big fucking deal out of it in the rooms, with our family and our friends, but at work and clients?!”

“Jesus, no.”- TaxisKellOfIRS

“Oh dear god.”

“The world does not revolve around them.”


“This is workplace harassment.”

“Make an anonymous complaint to your HR dept.”

“Don’t mention your bday, keep out all details that could identify you.”

“And be very clear & honest about their behavior, like your first paragraph up until your bday.”

“This sort of behavior absolutely would not fly at any company I’ve worked at.”- FlyAwayJai


“But, Be Blunt.”

“Be open and tell them It Happens to Be Your Birthday.”

“Which gets Over Shadowed Every year in support of Their making Good decisions for another year.”

“So you’ve decided to take the day off and Celebrate your day.”

“I’m the Adult child of a Alcoholic.”

“He’s been sober 40 years.”

“His anniversary has always been celebrated at meetings.”

“Not at work.”- Dvilindskys

Sustaining one’s sobriety is no easy task, and the OP’s colleague should, indeed, be congratulated.

And one could imagine that their own insecurities might be the reason they take one declined invitation so personally.

But hopefully they’ll realize soon enough that the OP’s desire to celebrate their birthday in no way meant they didn’t support their journey.

Written by John Curtis

A novelist, picture book writer and native New Yorker, John is a graduate of Syracuse University and the children's media graduate program at Centennial College. When not staring at his computer monitor, you'll most likely find John sipping tea watching British comedies, or in the kitchen, taking a stab at the technical challenge on the most recent episode of 'The Great British Baking Show'.