Mr. Natural
July 12, 2006 7:27 PM   Subscribe

My Boss' boss came by my cube with an 'assignment'. My boss (who I like) becomes a naturalized citizen tomorrow, and, conveniently enough, will be out of the office for most of the afternoon. My assignment is to come up with some way to 'defile' his office (in the tradition of cube defilement that takes place among our engineering team when someone goes away for any length of time...) that celebrates his becoming a us-ian.

Personally, I have some mixed feelings about this, given our nation's
atrocious performance on the world stage in recent years. I left my
house only three times on 7/4: once to light the BBQ, once to put the
(organic) meat on, and once to take the meat off. The rest of the day
was spent hiding, even though it's a short, pleasant walk for us to go
see the fireworks.

Complicating this is that he is Indian, and has family and friends in
Mumbai, and the world is more-or-less bollocksed up right now, and the
very notion of nationalism makes me queasy.

Anyway, I'm looking for something alonng the lines of walling his
office door up with soda cans or covering everything up with tinfoil,
but themed to becoming a us-ian. What are some celebretory aspects of
US naturalization?
posted by jimfl to Human Relations (44 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Red white and blue balloons, obviously. Upon entering the building you present him with a hatpin, and he wonders why until he gets to his office.
posted by kindall at 7:30 PM on July 12, 2006

Best answer: Becoming a citizen is not easy- your friend had to work for it (or marry into it, same thing, yuk yuk yuk), so I imagine he's probably excited. So try not to ruin his excitement with your personal feelings, eh? Especially because he's your boss!

You could have some "American" snacks- apple pie, cheese in a can (most people I know who grew up elsewhere have never had it!), etc.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:42 PM on July 12, 2006 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I think you should lean towards celebration instead of defilement. Balloons sound good. Maybe confetti that falls on him when he opens the door would be a little, er, edgier?
posted by danb at 7:45 PM on July 12, 2006

Best answer: Forge a summons to jury duty. It worked for Apu!
posted by kimota at 7:46 PM on July 12, 2006

Certainly be compassionate given the fact that he is undoubtedly mourning for his native country right now. A joke or office prank is not in the best taste right now.

I do like the idea of having lots of red, white, and blue balloons and native foods like apple pie, ice cream, fresh produce, maybe a cake with decorations, etc.

You'll want your boss to be impressed and pleasantly surprised at the thought and effort, not appauled at insensitivity. Remember to keep it professional and light. Also, judge your boss' reaction (as an engineer, I can vouch that many co-workers have no sense of humor and a simple surprise would be quite unwelcome). Have a good time and congrats to your boss on becoming a US citizen!
posted by galimatias at 7:49 PM on July 12, 2006

You may be able to score now-slightly-out-of-season 4th of July stuff for cheap. "Defile" it in that you put little American flags and confetti and streamers and shit everywhere. Perhaps some John Philip Sousa playing on his computer speakers.
posted by desuetude at 7:49 PM on July 12, 2006

Maybe you could emphasize some of the unique "Kitschy" aspects of the US if you want to stay away from politics and keep it fun: Buy a Monster Truck toy from Radio Shack, a professional wrestling video from your local video store, stuff from your local football or baseball team, etc.

I also second the idea of "American Snacks"
posted by extrabox at 7:50 PM on July 12, 2006

Instead of tinfoil, wrap everything up in red, white and blue paper?

Do the 'fill (cubicle) with peanuts' thing, only with red, white and blue peanuts? (kinda spendy as a last minute thing, though.)

Buy some congrats banners, and buy lots of now-on-sale July 4 decorations and go hog wild? Theme balloons, as Kindall said.

Cheese in a can... shrudder

Buy a patriotic paddle and make everyone paddle him once? (er.. no, that's a fraternity, nevermind.) (Um.. not that things aren't feeling like this place (the country, not Meta) is run by a fraternity sometimes.)
posted by Meep! Eek! at 7:50 PM on July 12, 2006

Meatbomb, that was completely inappropriate.

We did "American food" for my boss's boss when I was an intern and he became a citizen. Hot dogs, velveeta on crackers, white bread, corn dogs, all of the other horrible things that americans have invented. We decorated his office with his face under an uncle sam hat, and donned him with one as soon as he walked into the office.

It's a big accomplishment to him. Show him you're proud of him!
posted by SpecialK at 7:57 PM on July 12, 2006

Response by poster: Spam!
posted by jimfl at 7:58 PM on July 12, 2006

A party store ought to have, on the cheap, fake plastic bunting, like what they hang around baseball stadiums during the playoffs. It's basically made of plastic table cloth and comes in 50 foot rolls, 24 inches tall. It would not be hard to ensconce the entire office with the stuff, making the gesture overtly patriotic, funny, and inexpensive.

Quit your bellyaching about nationalism and watch this YouTube video.
posted by sdrawkcab at 7:59 PM on July 12, 2006

Red white and blue balloons as the previous poster said.

Becoming an US Citizen is not easy, share the joy with him.
posted by teapot at 8:12 PM on July 12, 2006

I like teh silly. How about playing off the "Indian" thing and having a cornucopia of American and Indian-Indian food?

When I became a landed Usian-Canadian I was given a cake with a Maple leaf flag. For some reason it depressed me a little, I guess because although I love my adopted land, I didn't like the feeling of cutting loose my past identity (Here there is great respect for multinationalism, as long as one of the nations is not the United States. And while I hate Bush, Shopping malls and U.S. policy, I do love my parents, childhood friends, etc.)

Go for a little bit of humor that recognizes that he can be 100% American and 100% Indian, too. Maybe Indian and American flags? And tepee. Every new American must want a tepee.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 8:13 PM on July 12, 2006

I understand your feelings, but this is a big deal. It doesn't come easy. If I was you, I'd not only eff up his office but I'd get some donation money and buy him a cake and flowers and stuff and really let him know how welcome he is as a new USian. Really, no snark.

I work with "new americans" all the time and they really take it seriously. Congrats to him and good luck to you. Make it good for the guy. Neither one of you will ever forget it.
posted by snsranch at 8:23 PM on July 12, 2006

Well, personally, when i became canadian (as in, when i got my citizenship) which was surprisingly recently, i had very mixed feelings about it. i was happy about being canadian but i was unhappy about not being fully israeli. the point is, don't focus completely on the american side- focus on the fact that this guy is multicultural, binational, whatever you want to call it. i like the idea of a bunch of american and indian food. maybe just put up two large flags in his office, the american flag and the indian flag. something like that...
posted by alon at 8:25 PM on July 12, 2006

1. Pass it on to the rest of the team/company. He's earned his citizenship and make sure everyone gives him a hearty welcome.

2. I've found sending everyone to the local dollar store to find a gift or tool of defilement is good fun. You get Duct Tape, kid's toys, scented candles, and other inspiration there.

/I've got bigger thanks from cheap yet fun gifts than big gifts
posted by cmfletcher at 8:31 PM on July 12, 2006

Work in a soaring eagle some how.
posted by drezdn at 8:56 PM on July 12, 2006

"native foods like ... fresh produce... "

Before Amercia we had nothing but convience food.
posted by oxford blue at 9:02 PM on July 12, 2006

This comment triggered an idea, but it may risk offending or annoying someone. And it is kind of silly and stupid. Get him a headdress, tomahawk, dreamcatcher, teepee, and any other kitschy "Native American" silly-movie-stereotype stuff you can find. After all, he's now an American Indian, right?

Oh, and the combination of American and Indian flags sounds good, too. And probably far less likely to cause trouble.
posted by dilettante at 9:03 PM on July 12, 2006

Get him something cheap but useful, like a low capacity pen drive. To appease management, buy a £1 inflatable banana and put it on his desk.

Posters above have mentioned that for some getting US citizenship is a big deal -- in some way defiling or messing with his work area isn't especially going to bouy him up or otherwise improve his wellbeing I'd have thought (though I'm not saying it would annoy him, just that he might be utterly ambivalent to it).

Most of us know how to fill an office with stryofoam, stick post-its eveywhere, or change keys on his keyboard, but I think the nicest thing to do (after sorting out your management request) would be to take him out to the same coffee shops as you do at lunch. I know that at places I've worked that sometimes that just doesn't happen, regardless of origin.
posted by toby\flat2 at 9:03 PM on July 12, 2006


RWB balloons.

A giant banner that says "EAT SHIT, USCIS" or something to that effect, since his ceremony is the last time he should ever have to deal with that misbegotten agency.

Then have a friend from legal hand him an intimidatingly large stack of paper and tell him it's about time he got cracking on that security clearance... and tell him what he's REALLY been working on all these years.

Or combine that with the banner -- "WELCOME TO THE SHOP, CITIZEN!" and act like you've been a CIA front agency all the time.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:14 PM on July 12, 2006

1) Cover computer and anything else that has vent holes with plastic

2) Seal opening to cubicle

3) Many many many cubic yards of red, white, and blue confetti.
posted by nathan_teske at 9:24 PM on July 12, 2006

Can you get a ton of red, white (or clear) and blue pushpins? Are your cube walls ones that pushpins go into easily? Make a giant American flag out of pushpins on his walls. Simple, colorful, and useful.
posted by GaelFC at 9:25 PM on July 12, 2006

Flags, bunting, and the like are supposed to be community symbols of what's good about America, not what's bad about it.

You are America; so's your co-worker, now, and that means more than "actions on a world stage." I say give him a good old red, white and blue welcome.
posted by ikkyu2 at 9:26 PM on July 12, 2006

Introduce him to one of our charmin' customs: teepee his office. (It's as American as Hallowe'en!)
posted by rob511 at 9:57 PM on July 12, 2006

Yeah, when I suggested red white and blue balloons, I meant fill up his office with them, literally, but give him something to pop them with as he comes into the building, which will confuse him until he actually gets to the office.

(No bonus points if he flies into a rage and asks who paid for the air. If he seems that type, don't fill his office with balloons...)
posted by kindall at 10:12 PM on July 12, 2006

Get a giant picture of Chuck Norris (if that's possible. I didn't see much in the way of LARGE images of him on Google Image Search) and place it on a prominent position. Around it, lots of gawdy pro-America July 4th related materials, photos of lesser Americans (Franklin, Kennedy, etc.)

Chuck Norris, despite recent internet memes that attempted to make us love him less by overexposure, represents AMERICA in a way that little else can. Where else can one man punch women, get shot, ride a bull, fight British People, jump out of airplanes, become a regular on Conan O'Brien and still have time to write a novel where a blatant avatar of himself punches out an alligator or crocodile or whatever?
posted by beaucoupkevin at 10:14 PM on July 12, 2006

Include this graphic of 50 actual good reasons to love America.
posted by cushie at 10:22 PM on July 12, 2006

My previous response missed the point and was incredibly geeky, please ignore it.

I don't think I can really relate to what changing nationality means; some of the comments here just don't compute, so I think I'll sidestep this thread completely. Please pretend I wasn't here :)
posted by toby\flat2 at 10:35 PM on July 12, 2006

I think that just because we as a group aren't very popular in the world right now isn't a reason to be ashamed of your nation and celebrating it. If you agree with that's going on, then you don't care about waving around the flag. If you don't agree, then you should be waving that flag about even MORE. Why? It let's people know that saying "americans are x" where x is something about us being arrogant or whatnot, is generalizing and that not everyone here likes some of the things that we've done as a country. You should be proud to be an American, and you should feel free to celebrate it. Going to see fireworks is one thing, and saying "OMGZ AMERICA RULZ OTHER COUNTRIES CAN SUCK IT" is another. No one would even construe going to see some fireworks as being a "pigheaded arrogant american". I love this country, and I believe it is the greatest country in the world. That doesn't make me arrogant, or offensive, or intolerant of other nations and their cultures. It makes me a proud American, and nothing else. That's just my .02 on celebrating this great nation. Go with some of the ideas here, and have fun celebrating one of the things that makes this country great.
posted by crypticgeek at 11:42 PM on July 12, 2006

Maybe you could ruin the element of surprise and ask what your boss would like? Tell him you are forced to do something, so he will feel guilted into giving you a good suggestion. Give him a few of the ideas above to spur him on.
posted by Monday at 11:44 PM on July 12, 2006

It's been a hell of alot of work for the guy to become a citizen.

Do what was done to one of the guys I work for -- set up a fake little beach in his cube, replete with coronas and an umbrella.
posted by effugas at 1:15 AM on July 13, 2006

Best answer: I like the idea above of the jury duty summons, but I would amp it up by about 100x. Try and prepare an pseudo-official looking folder FULL of official-looking forms covering the gamut of things that are more linked to the administrative side of being an american. even things that aren't strictly limited to citizens. Jury duty summonses, census long forms, IRS audit requests. Make stuff up - applications for July 4 2007 fireworks, Thanksgiving Turkey order forms, tailgate license applications, etc. The more ridiculous the better. Maybe an instruction booklet for the Secret Handshake - whatever!

Then hold a little welcoming ceremony in which the first 10 seconds is devoted to light positive things and the following several minutes describing all of the forms and bureaucracy that they clearly intentionally hide from prospective citizens so as not to scare them off.
posted by mikel at 3:32 AM on July 13, 2006

Borrowing from an above advice, go with some red, white, and blue, balloons, get some cheap bunting, and print out and place around the cubicle pictures of famous American presidents, or Americans in general. Then put up one banner that loudly states, "Welcome to the Club!"

Becoming an American is a big deal for those who work hard to achieve it. His day will be about this, celebrate it. Just because you're having your own doubts about expressing one's happiness at being a citizen doesn't mean everyone else shares the same feeling. At the very worse, if you feel you can't do this appropiately, find someone who can.
posted by Atreides at 4:48 AM on July 13, 2006

Response by poster: I found some PDFs for Jury Summons for US District Court. This combined with copious tax forms, and also some uniquely American foodstuffs ought to get the point across in entirely non-politically-charged way. Thanks all!
posted by jimfl at 6:17 AM on July 13, 2006

For God-sakes people, can it with the American Indian ideas. Those are just terrible!

The balloons sounds like a much better idea.
posted by canine epigram at 7:08 AM on July 13, 2006

Not to bust the party, but you should find out if he's afraid of balloons before filling his office with them. It's obscure (globophobia, ligyrophobia), but important to know (My GF now knows two people with this problem)!
posted by shepd at 7:15 AM on July 13, 2006

Isn't he eligible not only to vote now, but also to run for office? Maybe that could be incorporated. At the least you might be able to come up with voter information for upcoming elections -- maybe a HUGE stack of it. After all, it's his responsibility as a citizen to stay informed (just like we do, right?).
posted by amtho at 7:21 AM on July 13, 2006

Uh, the man's been paying taxes all this time, so I'm sure he's familiar with the tax forms.

However, he now has representation to go with his taxation! To celebrate his freedom from the tyranny of taxation without representation, give him some tea to throw in a large body of water, preferably in Boston.

Otherwise, you might want to give him an alien to retire/abuse, as he is now a citizen and not a resident alien.
posted by crazycanuck at 7:26 AM on July 13, 2006

How about reading The Constitution (and all it's amendments) and officially presenting him with a gag gift for excersising each freedom enumerated, and a gag gift representing the freedom secured by each governmental restriction enumerated?

So, for the first amendment you could fashion a bullhorn from paper and present that to him. For the second you could present him with a cap gun. For the third and fourth, a pad lock. For the fifth (gosh this is fun) a legal text. For the sixth, (some of these are harder than others) ummm... go ask your coworkers - a phone book maybe? Give him a bottle of champagne in celebration of the 21st, then take it back for the 18th (since the company probably cannot give alcohol away). etc
posted by kc0dxh at 8:04 AM on July 13, 2006

Along with the (obvious) use of symbolic bric-a-brac representing "America," I like the idea of teaching him a secret handshake.

When I was naturalized, my parents brought cupcakes, each topped with a small American flag, to my classroom to share with classmates and friends.
posted by Juggermatt at 8:34 AM on July 13, 2006

Create a screensaver of iconic American landscapes (with "God Bless The USA (Proud To Be An American)" playing in the background) on his computer.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 9:30 AM on July 13, 2006

I actually like the American Indian bit, assuming the person in question will get the joke. And I think you'd actually have to pitch it, even then:

"Since you're now *officially* an American Indian..."
posted by baylink at 10:17 AM on July 13, 2006

So; how'd it go?
posted by baylink at 6:42 PM on July 19, 2006

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