The Reluctant Sugar Mama

Dear Cubicle Coach: Sure, I enjoy cake in the afternoon, but do I have to pitch in for every coworker's birthday, even the people I'd never talk to outside the office?

Dear Sugar Mama: In this penny-pinching, efficiency-conscious era, the expensed birthday cake has fallen by the wayside, along with pension plans, free holiday turkeys, and, in one office where the Coach used to work, pens. (But, damn it, I drew the line at printing out on both sides of the copy paper!) Show your face from time to time out of respect for your fellow working stiffs--you don't want to be known as the office misanthrope. And pitch in for the ones you really consider pals--or at least trusted colleagues--and when you know they're springing for the primo Italian bakery and not the local Stop & Shop. That said, I also believe in honor. No dough, no cake.

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