Yesterday found me managing a tribute to wretched excess. It was a ridiculously overblown Bat Mitzvah, and it's been quite a while since I've seen money thrown around quite like this. Conservatively, I estimate the cost of this party to have been in the range of 175 - $200,000.00. I base this on knowing what our charges were, and reasonably adding in the decor, entertainment, event planners, equipment rentals etc. The event took up all 4 available floors, and featured a five hour open bar, specially installed lighted dance floor complete with DJ, aerialists above the dance floor, stilt-walkers and male models to act as dancers, hosts and eye candy. Speaking of candy, the 1st floor lobby was transformed into a full size candy store, complete with gift bags and rows and rows of free candy displays. There were five different buffet stations, one with two sushi chefs and a hostess in Kabuki makeup, and a children's cocktail hour, featuring juice and virgin frozen drinks.
The entire event took months and months of planning, as well as the entire day to set up and install. Everything was decorated, including the bathrooms, and the birthday girl's name and face were emblazoned on everything, including the napkins. The event planners even went out and bought nicer looking soap dispensers, as our drugstore brand clear plastic was not up to par. Part way through the night I took a moment to phone the folks back in Buffalo. After explaining the event I was managing to my mom I then expressed how the entire day resulted in deep feelings of resentment towards both of my under-achieving parents. She laughed and picked the corn from her teeth.
It was a very long day, made even more stressful as we brought in a ridiculous amount of staff to make sure that every whim of the host family was anticipated and fulfilled. Which explains why I decided to use some of my host staff to actually work the event floor, passing hors d'oeuvres, manning buffets, and generally pitching in. Plus, considering we have drastically reduced the available host shifts we have, it was my way of sending some extra money in to their paychecks.. So imagine my surprise when half way through the event, I walked past the third floor elevator and happened upon one of my host staff sitting on a couch, completely enraptured as a card reader sat next to her telling her fortune. I almost couldn't believe my eyes.
Just to add to the experience I casually leaned against the bar, in full view of my paid employee, and occasionally chatted with the staff walking by actually, you know ... working. This went on for a full 15 minutes. It only ended because ... well, they were done. At which point my still on the clock employee rubbed her little eyes and stupidly blinked as she (I assume) decided where she was going to hang out and get paid for doing nothing next. Instead I called her over and we had the following exchange:
"You can't possibly think that was OK, can you?"
"Well she asked me to sit down and I thought it would be all right."
"You thought it would be all right? How in the world would that seem all right to you? You aren't a guest at the party you're supposed to be working."
"There was nothing to do."
I was dumbfounded. But not enough that I couldn't reply:
I would hope that the card reader spent a great deal of time giving her some career counseling. Needless to say, her future with me has ended.