Along with three other people, I got unlucky and drew the "Vegetables" card, which meant that we had to find something organic that about thirty people would be willing to eat. Worse, our workload substantially increases just before the Christmas season, and in the weeks before the party, my compatriots had to beg off attendance due to one work-related reason or another.
In the end, my culinary-deprived skills and I decided to order a nice baked-potato dish from a company-approved caterer, to the tune of Php1,300.00 (USD 26.00). For a vegetable dish, it turned out to be pretty good (never mind that I already like potatoes to start with), the party ended up a modest success, and the end-of-year vacations went off without a hitch.
Fast-forward three weeks to this morning, where I was wondering if I could get my fellow group members to split for the price of the food. One thousand three hundred smackers is a lot for one person to take, even more so when you consider that four people were supposed to divide the costs to begin with. My first e-mail -- sent a few days before the party to let my co-workers know about the price -- had gone unanswered, however.
So this morning, the situation was clear: I had to find a way to negotiate the shares of my respective co-workers without giving the impression that I was a bitter, money-grubbing miser. Basically, I wanted to avoid an e-mail like this:
I want your P325.
Eight-letter messages may satisfy the demands for corporate minimalism, but they also speak loud enough to get you beaten up.
On the other hand, I didn't want to be so subtle that they would again ignore me entirely. My own workload was seeing a post-New Year resurgence, and it was likely that if I didn't ask them for the money now, then I was never going to see a single red cent. That, and I like to think that I have a spine running along the length of my back.
Hi, guys. Er... ah... remember our Christmas party? That was a great night, wasn't it?There was also the question of attitude. These were people who I was supposed to work with on a daily basis. I didn't want to show them that I was some loud, obnoxious fool who made unreasonable demands and always got what he wanted. (If I were, I'd probably be in upper management right now.)
Oh, yeah... you weren't able to make it. Sorry.
Now, ah... remember how we were all supposed to provide a vegetable dish for the evening? Remember how I spent two straight days looking for an available caterer, and how they came through for us with those two platefuls of baked potatoes? I'd just like you to know that I, ah... paid for everything a bunch of weeks back, and, well... even though you weren't around, you were, ah... at least there in, er... spirit.
It's been three weeks since our Christmas party, and I am still out over a thousand pesos. You each owe me P325, and if you don't pay up, then I am going to start piling on the interest. If you somehow manage to ignore this message even after the many notices I've sent, then I will be forced to take drastic physical action (mostly involving the beer in your fridge).
I know you've got the money, so seal the funds in a clean white envelope and leave it under my locker by tomorrow morning. Do not screw with me, or I will turn green and start smashing everything in sight.
And then... I didn't want to get down on my knees and plead either.
Please please please PLEASE pay me the P325 you owe me from the Christmas party. I REALLY need the money now. Honest.
If you pay me before this weekend comes around, I will be your absolute bestest friend for life. I will serve you breakfast when you come in for the morning, and I will take all your calls for you late at night. I will shine your shoes, press your ties, and walk your dogs. I will clean your cabinets, wash your dishes, and write your reports... well, maybe not that last one.
Somewhere in the middle of my thoughts, before I even so much as sent anything, I noticed that I had received an e-mail from one of those group members. It was brief and to the point:
How much do we owe you for the Christmas party?
"P325", I mentioned in my reply, and within the next couple of hours I had the money safely stowed away in my wallet. And no, I hardly had to type so much as a single actual word.
So all in all, it wasn't bad -- I wasted a few minutes this morning thinking about absolutely nothing at all, and I emerged plenty more well-funded for some reason. There's probably an underlying message to this strange sequence of events, something that would probably dictate the course of my life and convince me to make quite a few more serious decisions in the future.
Now, if I only knew what it was...