One percent-ish

The holiday season is almost past us, and I hope all of you have had a very merry time drinking and eating way too much.  But keep it up – there’s only one last push through New Years and then you can go on that diet you’ve been swearing you’ll start.

Jonathan began a new job recently, and unlike his last job, this new place throws a Christmas party for its employees every year.  Company-sponsored food, drink and dancing – even a shuttle to a nearby hotel for those who wish to really tie one on and make a whole night of it.  It’s quite generous, especially because (insert your favorite ‘Great Recession’ descriptor here).

For this event, all those who brought a toy for Toys for Tots would be entered into a raffle – so we stopped at a nearby toy store on our way to the soire and bought a doll for the collection.  When we checked into the party, we were handed an envelope which contained a $25 American Express card and the sentiment ‘Thank you for attending our holiday party this year.’  I was a bit confused.  Is this all the rage now, paying people to come to events?  Even with the $15 we spent on the toy, we were now up $10 on this whole venture – and we had yet to hit the free bar.

There was also an awesome free photo booth setup. This is a picture of a picture - Jon really wasn't wearing a glowing brooch.

We got some drinks and had some food, and the raffle started up.  And wouldn’t you know it, we won something – a $100 gift card to Best Buy.  All I expected from this party was to eat on the company’s dime and maybe dance a little…but to turn a profit?  I did not see that coming.

So, here’s how the math played out.  Our expenses were: $15 (toy) + $40 (babysitter) = $55.

Our credits were: $25 (AmEx card) + $100 (Best Buy card) = $125.

In short, we made $70 for going to a party.

I’ve always wondered why big celebrity events such as the Oscars give out elaborate gift bags to people who make millions and millions of dollars.  Jennifer Aniston doesn’t need free cell phones or designer perfumes or more Creme de la Mer.  She’s richer than Croesus – she can buy all that damn stuff on her own.

On a (much) smaller scale, why would a company who already provides a good living wage and benefits to its employees hand out still more money to them, for walking into a party? Jon and I were not in need of an extra $70 –  we weren’t going to miss the money if all we had gotten at that party was a good time.

I know that giving things away in this fashion creates positive feelings in the recipient and more revenue, in turn, for the giver.  Jennifer Aniston may really like that perfume she gets in her swag bag and decide to buy it for all her friends.  As for me, I’m certainly feeling a good vibe for Jon’s employer for being so open-handed.  The company made us feel good by giving us free stuff, which may make Jon a happier worker, and possibly more productive.  At the very least, we’ll be thinking of his company whenever we use our new Blu-Ray player (thanks, Nextgen!).

$125 is a relatively small amount in terms of corporate largess, but I’m naive about these things and I feel kind of ‘one-percent-ish’ about it.  It’s a guilty little secret of the well-off, I suppose – the more you have, the more you get.  Don’t have a job?  Well, I guess you won’t be getting free stuff thrown at you without even asking.  Too bad.

Although I wouldn’t say that Jon and I have reached Jennifer-Aniston-levels of wealth or influence, we sure as hell will be going to next year’s office party.

And if I don’t walk away with at least $75, I’m going to be pissed.

Another picture of a picture, but you get the idea...


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