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Party Fever

Last month, my office friend C asked me to help her on the party planning committee so we could nail down a location and start fundraising efforts in the hopes of getting our party fully funded so employees could show up and not worry about paying anything out of pocket on the day of the party.  My other office friend M joined as well, along with a handful of others and our Master Sergeant.  The first meeting went well; I came prepared with ten possible locations and C came with about five of her own.  Between she and I, we were able to narrow it down to a few, eventually settling on Longhorn.  I was shooting for Dave and Busters myself, but with an office that has a lot of people who don’t care about arcade games, it sadly did not fly.

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With the location good to go, we were able to calculate the cost per person with tax and gratuity factored in.  If 50 people attend, we would be looking at over $1000 to get everyone fed.  It honestly seemed like a near impossible task.  We conducted a loose change contest where four teams would fill buckets with pocket change each week.  We held a silent auction and informed teams that the amount their item(s) went for would count towards the loose change contest.  We held theme days (mainly so Soldiers could be out of uniform for a day) that required participants to pay $5 to be counted.  We had a Halloween decorations contest, with an entry fee of $5 and votes for 50 cents.  We had planned on much more, but after four weeks, it is completely unnecessary and I have just ended the loose change contest.

The first week of the loose change contest netted us almost $500.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think that 60 people can come up with that much in just loose change in a week.  Not only were people going to the bank to buy rolls of coins, but they held raffles, bake sales, and paid lunches to raise money for their buckets.  This week, one team turned in nearly $400 from a paid lunch they held to raise money.  The Halloween contest, which I didn’t think would raise more than $60 or $70 ended up bringing in $150 off of just one person out of the seven who were being judged.  The silent auction was a bit out of control as well, with dinner with my favorite soldier selling for $102.  People have lost their minds.

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I have funding for 52 people in an envelope.  M has a ton of cash in another envelope from our silent auction.  I have yet another envelope set aside that could pay for an extra 30 people, plus a stack of ones from our Theme Days that has not yet been counted into our grand total.  I should be very impressed with everyone’s efforts and thankful that we were able to get our party paid for so quickly and seemingly effortlessly.  However, I’m not impressed.  M and I were on a team for the loose change and the theme days (we are dead last in the loose change contest, by the way), but we both dropped off the team after being called cheaters one too many times.  We received bullying emails, demanding that we change the contest to let everyone know the details instead of do a surprise announcement at the party as initially planned.  Otherwise, we had an unfair team advantage and weren’t allowing anyone else to “build a strategy.”

This was meant to be a fun and spirited contest.  Instead, it turned into a nasty competition where anything goes.  Selling bagels and cake is not “loose change.”  Dropping $80 in nickels into the bucket after a trip to the bank is not “loose change.”  Spending $500 on fried chicken, multiple sides and cheesecake in order to raise money for your bucket is not “loose change.”  Me being on the party planning committee and also being on a team is not an unfair advantage, as everyone had a chance to be on it and no one wanted to be bothered.  This silly contest got taken to a dark place and I have grown to hate it.

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The Halloween contest also got way out of hand.  We initially had six participants, but one was added late with a single pumpkin he placed in his cube as a joke.  Voting was slow and normally paced the first day, but on day three things went insane.  MJ had her family come down and buy $35 in votes.  I had people handing me $10s and $20s to buy 50 cent votes so that K could win.  In retaliation, I had D give me $30 to vote for the single pumpkin guy.  This went back and forth all day and over half of Halloween.  One minute before voting wrapped, one of K’s friends rushed over to give me $40 to vote for K.  The areas that actually looked great and had spectacular decorations barely got any votes because everyone was too busy worrying about the nonsense with K and the tiny pumpkin.  They sucked the fun out of the whole thing.

We’ve held silent auctions before, numerous times, for various fundraising reasons.  They always go the same way.  Bids are put on paper by the item with bidding lasting around a week and ending at noon on a Friday.  Most of the time, the high bidders are lingering around to see if they win or not.  Winners are notified via email by the auction organizer if they were not present.  A thank you email with the total raised is sent out later.  That’s that.  This time, people demanded to be given a list of who won what, what the item sold for, and who donated each item.  M was totally overwhelmed by this, plus the people hanging around her desk trying to get information that is really none of their business; why does the whole office need to know that I paid $30 for a basket?

To top it off, MJ decided to drop off the committee because she thinks C, M and I are being “too secretive” about things.  Yes, I am secretive about the loose change totals because we agreed to announce the winner at the party.  I am the only person who knows the totals and I had to keep it that way because MJ decided to tell EVERYONE the first week totals after we cashed the change in, which could have killed what we were trying to do.  I am also the only one who knows the theme day totals (again, something to announce at the party) and the grand total.  Our Master Sergeant wants me to keep that to myself for now, and I’m not arguing.

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People got crazy over a few dumb competitions.  Now they’re getting crazy because we have enough money to fund the party for employees and some spouses, purchase door prizes and team prizes, and fully fund our summer event.  They don’t think that it’s fair to use some of the funding for our next event.  They want to decide where the money goes and how much of it goes there.  They consider it THEIR money, even though it was either donated or used to purchase something in the auction or food sales.  They didn’t want to do any of the actual legwork that was left to C, M and I, but now they want to butt in, bitch and complain, and have control because they bought a wine basket at the silent auction and cookies at a bake sale.

Here’s the thing… I can’t exactly give people their money back because I don’t know how much was put in for loose change, some of that went towards buying items, the silent auction went towards buying items, and the theme day money is how our Branch Chief justifies allowing Soldiers to be out of uniform.  I can’t take someone’s word for it that they threw $50 in the bucket and give that back because they want to complain now.  Donations were made, items were purchased, and because people went crazy, we went way over our goal very quickly.  Our Branch Chief is over the moon about this.  I want to be myself, but all I hear is complaining.

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What would you do in my situation?  C, M and I have done all of the legwork, our Master Sergeant is taking care of things like authorizing contractors to consider the party an off-site work day and not take leave, and our Branch Chief got us the final approval to have the party in the planned location.  The other committee members have either dropped out or been useless, with the exception of Z who helped come up with some helpful ideas.  I was one of a few who were tasked to do this and now I wish I never agreed to it.  One of my coworkers said to me today that “no one ever wants to do the work, they just want to receive the benefits.  Our Master Sergeant said that the whole point of a committee was to have a few make the decisions for the whole.  Where do you stand?

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About Jamie C. Baker

“Long time no see. I only pray the caliber of your questions has improved.” - Kevin Smith

Posted on November 8, 2013, in Crazy People, Fun!, Money, Work and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I had to read your post several times to try to understand all of the dynamics. At least you had great participation. My experiences organizing office events have usually been the opposite where people had to practically be forced to participate. It sounds like you were a victim of your own success; you’re obviously a great organizer. It’s important when the process is started that everyone be informed about the rules of the game. I don’t know how well that was communicated. I do agree with your Master Sergeant that it’s the committee’s responsibility to make decisions for all. From my experience, those who take on such responsibilities all too often receive more grief than appreciation.

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