When my co-worker, *Jane* was pregnant with her second child, some of us at the office decided to throw her an office baby shower since her first child was 11, and this was her first child with her new husband. I and three other co-workers took on the responsibility of hosting and informed Jane of our plans. A few days later, Jane informs us that none of her friends or family can host a shower for her, and asked if we could make the work shower an “everyone shower.” She said her sister and mother couldn’t plan anything or help out ahead of time, but was willing to help out the day of and contribute financially. We already have a bad feeling about this, but smile and agree to host the shower for all of her friends and family.
Initially we had planned to have the event at a small conference center at our office (since it was initially only for our office of 20 people), but Jane’s sister informs us that their mother wants it moved to the rec center at her apartment complex. Again, we agree. Jane’s sister also tells us that she and her mother will contribute to the food since we will now be expecting a few more guests. A few more? When Jane provides us with the list, it has over 60 names in addition to our co-workers. Still, we plug on…
On the day of the shower, we arrive at the complex and find we are the only ones there to set up. Even though Jane’s mom lives at the complex and her sister is at the mom’s house, neither of them come over to help set anything up, not even the food they promised to provide. My co-workers and I hustle to decorate and one runs to the nearest grocery store to get more food since without the promised contributions from the family we don’t have enough. Finally, less than five minutes before the guests are set to arrive, Jane and her family saunter in with a small tray of appetizers (good thing we had already purchased more). Jane sits imperiously in the chair we had set up for her and does not move again for the rest of the shower. She doesn’t greet guests or speak to anyone who does not come to her. NO ONE in the family assisted us with anything. No one offered to help us serve food, take gifts, or anything. They certainly didn’t stay to clean up. And throughout the shower, the ONLY time anyone in her family spoke to us it was to tell us that a tray needed to be refilled. They clearly saw us as the hired help, as opposed to work friends who were hosting a beautiful and expensive shower for their daughter/sister.
As Jane opened gifts from the guests, she never said “thank you” or even positive comments like “how cute.” She simply opened them, looked at the gift, put it on the table next to her and reached for the next gift. We had taken up money from all our co-workers and purchased the expensive stroller Jane had registered for as well as a tall wicker laundry basket that was FULL of smaller items, including several handmade gifts, spending well over $500. I know you don’t buy over-the-top gifts for the accolades, but I was shocked when Jane looked at it all, and moved on without a word. We had put every penny our co-workers had contributed towards gifts (splitting the entire bill for the shower between the four of us), and purchased considerably more than she should have been expecting, but not even a murmur of appreciation. Fortunately, by this time, her bizarre behavior at work has also alienated most of her co-workers, and only one co-worker outside of the four of us that hosted showed up for the shower, so at least our co-workers did not see this rudeness (and we have never told them).
A few excruciating hours later, my co-workers and I are cleaning up (without help) and are stunned by the way that Jane and her family had treated us. None of them helped at all, contributed financially, or even said thank you. By the time it was over, we glad that Jane was planning on her quitting her job to stay home with her baby the first year. By the way, Jane never sent thank you notes to any of us that hosted. She didn’t send a thank you to the office for the gifts until a former co-worker called her (several months after the shower) to tell her she thought it was rude that Jane never acknowledged the gift. At that point, Jane sent a generic thank you to the office. 0727-11
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I thought it was interesting that out of a staff of 20 (presumably this was a mostly female office) only five showed up and only one of them was not involved in the planning. Assuming RSVPs were requested, that should have been a clue right there as to the overall opinion of Jane at the company.
It seems to me that Jane and her family should have been politely confronted about this. Beforehand preferably but certainly afterward.
A good reason to have a SUPRISE office shower?
A couple of things to consider –some women in their late pregnancies do have problems, some of them hormonal, some physical, others mental. We probably need to cut her a little slack here not knowing if she was experiencing some sort of depression?
Also, some folks at showers really truly don’t know how to react or behave. Some people absolutely abhor the limelight, and feel truly wierded out having folks stare at them while they open presents. I have a good friend like this and she just wierds out of us. Normally, though, she’s fine–but put her on a stage, or with a mic, or as the center of attention and she wants to crawl into a hole.
About the relatives–did you actually phone them and talk through the party? And decide on details, like when to show up to help etc.? I know I have volunteered many times to help at things, only to never hear details, etc. so I assumed myhelp was not needed. Did you specificially say, ” we need an appetizer for 50 people and bring it by 2:00 ?” Without specific details, and calling up to remind people, some folks are so oblivious that they just don’t recall some things. After the party was over, did you say to the relatives “please clean up the kitchen wash the dishes, take out the trash?” Don’t assume people know you need help or what to do (like husbands, hehe)
The entire thing tanked when they moved it to the apartment complex.
If none of her ‘non-work’ friends and family are going to host a shower, there is probably a reason for it. Perhaps they have been burned before, perhaps they are just jerks. That being said, if they aren’t going to out for their relative and then insist on changes for their convenience, this is probably a red flag that they aren’t going to come through on their promises later.
Sorry this happened to you. It’s amazing how much shower occassions can reveal about a ‘stealth gimme pig’.
If Jane’s family had 60 people to invite (three times the total number of office workers), they could certainly have thrown their own shower.
It is very clear that the family’s intent was to “let” all the office people do all the work and pay all the expenses and the family and friends would all reap the rewards of that effort. Their attitude and behavior were beyond abominable!!!
Given the behavior of Jane’s family, I can see why Jane behaved the way she did. She almost certainly grew up in an atmosphere that encouraged that attitude of entitlement.
Hopefully Jane will never need to use anyone from that company as a reference!
I have to disagree with the posters offering excuses for Jane’s behavior: marital problems, difficult pregnancy, etc. I and most people have difficulties throughout life, and still manage to be polite and appreciative. I would have been tickled pink at a wonderful shower like the one described from colleagues, or anyone else. I was given a wonderful surprise shower by a friend, and and was as appreciative as should be, complete with thank you notes promptly.
If Jane were having those kinds of serious problems, particularly pregnancy related, she should have politely thanked her colleagues and declined the shower.
@boohaha (and I think a few others mentioned something similar):
“Some people absolutely abhor the limelight, and feel truly wierded out having folks stare at them while they open presents.”
That is absolutely true. And my guess is NONE of the people who feel that way ask co-workers who plan a small work shower to make it a larger everyone shower and then hand over a list of 60 people.
I could not agree more with the ‘ingratitude kills generosity’ comment. I LOVE buying gifts, and hosting parties, but there are a few close realtors for whom I will never throw a party and who get a nice gift on appropriate occasions, but I don’t go out of my way. It hasn’t burned me for other people, as most people aren’t Gimme Pigs.
After the bridal shower I threw my sister, she decided she didn’t need to send any thank you notes. So I sent the notes (signed as myself), and a small gift to my aunt who co-hosted. Apparently Sis was very upset about this, because after she decided not to send notes for her wedding gifts (most of which were cash, as requested), several people mentioned the ‘lovely’ notes from the shower and enquired if she would be doing wedding ones. She was angry that anyone would ask for a note when they gave ‘money, not a real present’. Sadly some people just don’t get it.
No good deed goes unpunished. The correct response when asked to move the location of the shower and to include family is, “We are sorry, but this was to be a work related shower. If that is inconvenient for you, we will be happy to attend whatever your family puts on for you.” No one can take advantage of you without your consent. Don’t consent.
It just shows the importance of our intuition. That initial bad feeling was an important warning. But the other problem here is trickier. At what point is it appropriate to bail on your word?
I love the comment from Cat, and other variations on it, that no one can take advantage of you without your consent. It is so damn true, yet so hard to stick to sometimes. Some people are such good manipulators and sometimes you just have a bad day. Sometimes it is over before you know and you are looking over your shoulder wondering what happened.
@ Michelle P: pregnancies can make some women behave strangely. We’ve all been rude at times when under pressure. Maybe “Jane” could have handled things better but Ihope the OP has learnt to spot warning signs that something maybe more of a chore then a party.
I agree that this was a disaster from the start and that Jane and her family behaved like epic piggies. However, in this situation, as there had been a pre-existing agreement about financial help from the family, I would have gotten Jane’s Mother and Sister’s contact info, from Jane herself or any other possible way. Email, phone number, snail mail. I’ve been a part of a few showers where there were plenty of hostesses, and afterwards the total costs are asked of all parties, tallied up, and divided equitably.
“Dear Jane’s Sister,
What a great shower we threw for Jane! I think everyone had a wonderful time. Mary, Sue, Beth and I added up what we each spent. Mary and I bought the brunt of the food and decorations, and together spent $850. Beth bought the cake, for $40.
It seems that the total cost of the shower was about $900 . Mary and I will receive money back from the group, while Sue, you and your mother each owe the group $150, and Beth owes $110. Please call if you have any questions!”
This is not poor etiquette; it seems to me to be the way things are done with larger showers. A little nudge could go a long way… best case scenario, to remind them that they owe you money, worst case to let them know that you’re not going to let them squirm out of your previous agreement after you did something so selfless and kind for their Jane.
Had I been one of the hosts to set up, I’d have very pointedly let the mother know as politely as possible that I’d leave the cleanup to her, since they were unable to help with setup. If it wasn’t cleaned up at all, it seems the resident of the building would ultimately be responsible.
Everything went down hill when the guest of honor asked that the party be moved to a different location. If her family couldn’t throw a party, she would have had a office party and that’s it.
Sounds like a former friends family. Birthday party for my friends sons. I was ready and bored about 90 minutes before party time so I called my friend. Do you need some help or can I just go over because I’m bored. She needed help so I rushed over assuming that nothing was getting done. My friend is a hard worker so I knew she wouldn’t be the one doing ‘nothing’. No her family was there sitting in her living room talking like nothing else in the world mattered but them. Her own birthday party hubby asks me to help since he can’t cook and he didn’t want her to cook for her birthday. I agree because I love my friend, hubby was right she shouldn’t have to cook for her birthday and I always help out. He got too drunk to cook and only one person asked if I needed help and went on to double check how they were cutting things to make sure they were okay by me. By that point I didn’t care if she tore it apart with her hands much less if it was cut good enough. Too many people to cook for when I only had time to cook, make myself a plate and then leave. Never ever again not that she’d ask because she’s flaked out on me and won’t speak to me oh well I did nothing this I can swear on a stack of bibles.
Completely vulgar!! Jane sitting there as if she was Lady Muck of Turd Island. And after all the work that you people did for her and her family. Let us hope she doesn’t expect another shower if she has another child.