my former coworker wants my company to sponsor her party

A reader writes:

My former coworker (and good friend) is a very well-liked person — even despite the fact that she left our company abruptly last year. She has decided to throw a party at her home for select staff members (I am obviously invited). The list has grown and grown. It’s going to be a very large party with 40+ guests, and she plans to approach the CEO of our company (she has a very strong relationship with him and he’s invited her to return to our company if she’s ever interested in the future) to ask him for help paying for the party. When I asked her about her pitch, she said it was going to be along the lines of “your staff works so hard for you and sacrifices for you, you should celebrate them, and I’m willing to put on this party to help start the year off on an energized note.”

I told her I thought it would be odd to try to make this a work event when the list isn’t open and people are clearly going to be excluded. I told her she’d have better chances of his agreeing with her if the event was an open-invitation to our entire building. She declined, suggesting that some people in the building are negative and not-well liked and she wants this to be an opportunity for people to enjoy themselves drama-free. I understand that, but in this context the party is open to the vast majority of staff, excluding all management (5 people) and 15 additional staff members.

So now this brings me to my greater point. She wants to have t-shirts printed with our company logo, the date of the party and a catchy slogan to create hype. We would be allowed to wear the t-shirts to work on dress-down days because it contains the company logo. I think she’s going over the top, being rude, and potentially going to alienate the people who were not invited to the party. She says, “If someone’s upset about not being invited, they are really childish — this is not middle school. They should do some soul searching to think about why they were excluded.”

What do you think?

Your former coworker has lost her mind.

Of course this is a terrible idea. If the CEO sponsors the party, it’s an official work event. You cannot have an official work event that excludes people who are disliked (people selected by a non-employee, no less!), just so that others can “enjoy themselves drama-free.”

That’s not even getting into the incredible rudeness of having shirts printed to commemorate the occasion and encouraging people to wear them around the excluded coworkers, or the weirdness of planning a party for your ex-coworkers and then telling the CEO it’s to improve his employees’ morale and suggesting he pay for it.

Presumably if the CEO wants to put on a party for his employees, he’ll have the company plan it (or hire someone to plan it) on his own. And he’ll invite all employees, because that’s the point of those events.

In addition to having no judgment whatsoever, your former coworker clearly hasn’t emotionally separated from the job she left a year ago if she’s still this invested in what goes on at your company. She needs to complete that separation. She also needs to drop this ludicrous idea and probably give up all rights to any sort of decision-making ever again.

You can read an update to this post here.

{ 342 comments… read them below }

    1. clobbered*


      Occasionally I worry that AaM will run out of new material for the blog… and then something like this comes along.

      We have not yet plumbed the depths, people.

      1. Phyllis*

        Too true. As my former assistannt superintendent used to say, “It’s not humanly possible to think of all the things to tell people not to do.”

    2. Gretchen Weiners (OP)*

      The party is scheduled for September 1, so you won’t have to wait very long for an update!

      1. Anonymous*

        I’m probably hypersensitive because of a nasty situation that blew up in an online community I’m involved in – but I’d caution you against using your real name, if this is it.

        1. Gretchen Weiners (OP)*

          Oh no….. don’t worry!

          Gretchen Weiners is a character from mean girls, as this situation makes me think of the infamous line “YOU CANT SIT WITH US!”

          1. Gretchen Weiners (OP)*

            I never quite thought of it as a punishment for others, but that does make sense. I don’t even know the people that were “questionable” invites. While I’m not yet ready (yeah yeah yeah) to think of her as being sinister and mean, there certainly ARE some individuals helping to plan this party that are bitches (pardon my french). So come to think of it, it probably is a purposefully jab at those coworkers.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              And are you still okay with participating, in light of that? I think what’s frustrating people in this thread is that you’re not putting the pieces together — you’re acknowledging all the separate parts but not seeing that it adds up to a whole that says this is horrible and you shouldn’t be associated with it.

              1. jmkenrick*

                Before the OP chimed in, I thought this comments were going to be super & sweet. Because…obviously it’s a bad idea, there’s not much more to say about it. :)

              2. Gretchen Weiners (OP)*

                I haven’t decided yet.

                I’ve sent a text to my imaginary friend (since this is a made up story) telling her my concerns again and I’m waiting on her reply.

                But I might not be able to update you because I’ll be under a bridge where trolls belong (*eyeroll).

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  I think a couple of people assumed this was trolling because the situation is so outrageous and because your responses here have come across as pretty flippant.

                  For what it’s worth, it’s rare to have every single commenter aligned so passionately against a situation (I can only think of two other times that’s happened in five years of running this site), and it reflects how completely awful and mean-spirited your friend’s plan is. You don’t really seem to be absorbing that though, and I think that’s why several people have assumed trolling.

                2. Jenn*

                  This is going to sound harsh, but so be it: you sound really, really immature. How about taking a stand instead of just metaphorically throwing your hands in the air about this ridiculous party? Either you think this idea is shitty, or you don’t. But either way, let’s be honest: your “concerns” (if you can call them that; you really don’t seem particularly concerned about anything except your own invite) don’t mean a thing to this woman. You’re not going to sway her, either way.

            2. fposte*

              It doesn’t have to be either/or–she can be a really giving person who’s capable of doing something really sucky. (Most of us are capable of doing something really sucky.) It doesn’t exactly sound like the planning committee has been the kind of people who would bring out her best self, either. But ultimately it’s up to her to grasp the ring of sanity–all you can do is extend it to her.

              1. Jamie*

                I will admit I’m capable of doing sucky things, but to be honest mine tend to be extemporaneous and I’m generally pretty darn sorry afterward.

                The planning of sucky – that takes a special kind of snowflake.

      2. Rana*

        Oh, good!

        I’m ashamed to say I can’t decide whether I want this party to take place or not. I mean, it’s a horrible, terrible idea, but it would make such a juicy post…

    3. Anonymous*

      I’m always amazed at the gems that AAM pulls out of her inbox in between all of the “is it legal?” questions.

      +1 to a post-party update.

  1. Anonymous*

    I’m at a loss for words. Asking the CEO to pay for it? T-shirts with slogans to “create hype”? Just – words fail me.

    1. Jessica*

      Create hype?! If the OP wouldn’t have used the pronoun “she,” I would have assumed that the former co-worker in question is Tom Haverford from Parks and Rec.

      That being said, this is amazing on so many levels. Yes please to an update ASAP!

        1. Laura L*

          But only if it involved a former Indiana Pacers player handing out free shrimp cocktails.

      1. Anon*

        Oh, if this party is being thrown by Entertainment 720, this whole situations makes SO Much more sense.

  2. Jamie*

    “She also needs to drop this ludicrous idea and probably give up all rights to any sort of decision-making ever again.”

    Brilliant – and totally true.

    Seriously, this is crazy. I also want an update to this.

      1. perrik*

        On the contrary, this woman should be encouraged to make lots of decisions. We need the entertainment.

  3. Jennifer*

    I can’t even with this one… There is just so much wrong here. It particularly amuses me that she used the “this is not middle school” excuse, being it sure sounds like she is the one reverting back to those not-so-good old days. I can’t possibly see the point of the shirts other than the purposefully make excluded employees feel badly and as if they are out of the “clique”. It is as though she somehow wants to maintain a sense of queen-bee status in a place that, let’s not forget, SHE NO LONGER WORKS FOR.

    I know we are just getting a small piece of a much larger picture here, but is your friend always like this? Honestly, that kind of behavior is concerning, particularly if it isn’t normal for her. Is there something going on in her life that has made her turn to such ridiculous attention-grabbing tactics?

    1. Anony Mouse*

      Recently, there was a local controversy about kids all wearing “Brandon’s Bar Mitzvah” t-shirts to school on the Monday after the event, because it made some student feel left out. The school tried to ban them, there was parental backlash, etc.

      So, yeah, middle school.

    2. Gretchen Weiners (OP)*

      She’s not like a queen bee at all. She really is a wonderful person. She has a lot of help from current staff for this party and says that it isn’t hers; its the groups. She’s giving in that way. A little more context: She’s was a founding employee at our company and is still VERY connected and close to current and former employees alike. So that might explain why she’s still very attached to the company; she loved working for our CEO.

      1. fposte*

        But none of that changes what a bad, bad idea it is. (Or answers the question of what she’s supposed to be doing now and why she’s doing this instead.) I think this is one of those situations where you stop listening to what somebody says and watch what she does. This isn’t giving, this is weird.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Agreed. OP, is she someone who thrives on drama? It’s so odd that she’s presenting this in terms of avoiding people who cause drama, while her proposal would create HUGE drama. I mean, an exclusionary party is one thing, but t-shirts that she specifically wants people wearing at the office (where she doesn’t even work)? She’s either someone who thrives on drama, or really insensitive.

          1. KayDay*

            I have generally found that a big red flag that a person thrives on drama is an unsolicited statement of “I hate drama and anyone who causes it!” or something similar.

            1. Kelly O*

              OMG. I JUST said this the other day to my husband. We have a new VP who insists on telling everyone she meets that she is “not like other women” and “does not do gossip” and all the things she does not do, and then proceeds to do nothing BUT those things.

              Because if you are such a special snowflake, you do not have to tell us how different you are. We will see it in your actions soon enough.

              (Some of y’all will love this – she is the one who told me she did not think I would be good in an HR role because I am “not a people person.”)

              1. Joy*

                Kelly the cute picture of you (assuming that is a picture of you) screams people person. You’ve won me over and I’ve never even met you!

                1. Kelly O*

                  I’m just not a “stupid people person.” And I also believe there are dumb questions.

                  (Spoiler alert – I’ve never believed in Santa, the Tooth Fairy, or the Easter Bunny either. Although lord help me, I NEED Eric Northman to be real…)

          2. Gretchen Weiners (OP)*

            I think insensitive might be right, which is where my initial question was housed …… is she incredibly insensitive or am i overly sensitive to think that the t-shirts and advertisement of an invite only party is rude?

              1. Gretchen Weiners (OP)*

                LOL. I guess it’s because I didn’t see much difference between the two that I thought I was a bleeding heart!

          3. Anonymous*

            Ok, at this point, I think we’ve all been trolled. OP sounds like she’s trying to bait AAM, not trying to understand why this might be a bad idea.

            1. Gretchen Weiners (OP)*

              What do you even mean by that?

              I’m guessing you missed the part about my having dialogue with people and acknowledging when they said things I didn’t think of.

              I think if you’re done with the conversation, you can be done with it. I take offense at the suggestion that I’m trying to “bait someone.”

            2. EngineerGirl*

              I would think this is made up except that I have a relative exactly like this. And yes, there is always lots of drama.

              1. Andrea*

                Oh, I believe that this unhinged, cruel woman is planning this party and planning to exclude people and all that shit. But I don’t want to believe that the OP is really so obtuse as she is coming across here. It just can’t be possible that she would still really not get it even after it has been pointed out to her so many times that this is a bad idea and that this “friend” is not a good person. Or is it? I don’t know. But it makes me lose a little hope to think that there really are people like both of them.

      2. Rana*

        Um, you say she’s “a wonderful person,” but, honestly, I’m not seeing it. Asking someone else to pay for *her* party, and then “graciously” allowing only the people she wants to attend, and then expecting them to flaunt their privileged status in the faces of people she doesn’t like, aren’t the actions of someone who’s wonderful. They are selfish, and cruel.

        1. Emily*

          I’m seriously baffled how the same person who would do this party thing would also be described as “well-liked” by a majority of the other staff. Well-liked, or feared?

    3. Liz*

      That was the best part! I plan to adopt this “it is not middle shool” tactic to explain all my decisions.

      “Why did I just do that to you?” “Well I think you should search your soul to understand why someone would do that to you…”

      It is brilliant.

  4. Karin*

    Perhaps the OP should tell her friend that she is not comfortable with this plan and to stop engaging in discussions regarding it. She already made her thoughts known and since she still works there she should step back and stay clear. If the former employee chooses to go ahead with this bizarre idea the CEO is surely smart enough to sort it out.

    1. Natalie*

      Good call. If I was OP I would also decline an invitation (assuming you are not one the people that “should do some soul searching”) and not wear the shirt, etc.

      1. Gretchen Weiners (OP)*

        Hopefully you won’t judge me too harshly, but I do intend to go to the party….literally all of my friends from work will be there. But I can agree that I’ve said my piece and don’t need to keep revisiting the issue with her.

          1. Gretchen Weiners (OP)*

            She’s reserved $500 of her own money and hoped CEO would throw about $200 at her.

            1. Anony Mouse*

              To clarify, is it the CEO’s $200, or the company’s $200? Or is the company small enough that they are one and the same?

        1. Kelly O*

          I just keep thinking “bad idea, bad idea.”

          If the CEO wanted to throw a party for this individual, he/she would have. I don’t know about your workplace, but most of the places I worked for would not be okay with paying a former employee for a party they didn’t plan, and to which not all employees would be invited.

          And the thing that kills me is the “well if you’re not invited, maybe you should think about why we don’t want you there” attitude. Because that’s totally not middle school train of thought at all. Since clearly everyone should want to conduct themselves in such a way that a person who no longer works there and her friends want them at their party.

          This person clearly has boundary issues, and I know you want to go because “literally all your friends from work will be there” but I would think long and hard, and encourage others to think long and hard about the longer term consequences of this. It’s not like you’re just going to dinner, or having a low-key thing at someone’s house. There are bound to be repercussions here, and honestly I would not want to be involved.

          (And, in the spirit of full disclosure, I’ve had dinner with former coworkers. I’ve gone to their birthday parties, their weddings, etc. But it’s all been low-key, no office participation requested, and certainly no t-shirts. But then again, I’m not really partial to any of those things, so the people I would remain friends with outside of the office wouldn’t be doing those things anyway.)

          1. fposte*

            My department does a lot of intermingling social and work life, and I still couldn’t imagine this happening. I could see a retiree hosting a party for the department; I could even see a thank-you party from somebody moving out of town. I can’t imagine somebody a year later–A YEAR LATER–trying to do a job related function, get paid for it, and do it in the most divisive way possible.

            I’m really starting to see this as payback disguised as generosity.

            1. Gretchen Weiners (OP)*

              I should be more specific….we work in a school, and she left after the first semester, so it’s really been 4 months that she’s been separated from the company. Although I don’t think that changes too much of your opinion.

              She’s really not trying to harm the company. She’d never do that. This might just be carelessness.

              1. Jamie*

                It’s carelessness if it didn’t occur to you. You’ve pointed it out to her and her response is very telling.

                She thinks people should do soul searching about why they aren’t liked. There is nothing careless about that. It’s deliberate and bitchy, but not careless.

                1. fposte*

                  This. I’ll split hairs and say she may not be actually trying to harm the company per se (though I suspect she is), but she’s inarguably trying to hurt a key collection of people within it in a way that the company can’t help but be hurt by.

                  I think you’re nicer than she is, and I think she sounds as nice as you so you think she couldn’t have motivations you don’t.

                2. Heather*

                  And liked by who? Just because they aren’t liked by this person doesn’t mean others don’t like them.

                  I don’t get it. The whole thing is way too weird for words.

              2. Anon...*

                I think you’re talking about yourself – not a ‘friend’ who is so wonderful. And I think you know you’re doing a shitty thing but were/are looking for someone to tell you that you’re not being shitty and crazy.

                Oh, and btw.. just why did your ‘friend’ leave the company?

                1. A_Non_Mouse*

                  I’m agreeing with your comments. OP can’t make up her mind if she works for a company, a school, has a CEO, doesn’t have a CEO. She seems very immature if she’s not the one that’s planned this party. Appears to be a lot of justification and protesting going on for what is a straight-forward situation.

          2. Liz*

            Totally second all of this.

            And have to add: It’s easy to think when you deal with people like this, “I won’t be a target if I just don’t make waves.” But the truth is they’ll turn on you too, eventually, and they’re MORE likely to target you if they know you’ll go along even when you have doubts (and they know, it always shows).

            You don’t have to give them any ammunition for drama by objecting to anything they’re doing. Just don’t participate. Raise your eyebrows a little and say, “Oh, sorry I can’t make it, but you guys have fun!”

            It sounds backward but you really will be less of a target than if you go.

    2. Jenn*

      Hopefully this idea will be squelched by the CEO and this whole thing will be a non-starter, but even so….I fully support Operation: Step Back and Stay Clear.

  5. Anonymous*

    Not only has she lost her mind, she’s shown that she’s extremely passive aggressive, immature and that she likes to create needless drama. If anybody needs to grow up and realize that events by companies, and her own events, aren’t like a middle school slumber party, it’s your former coworker.

    Also, OP, do you have any idea why she abruptly left the company? My instincts are telling me that her immaturity may have had a factor in it.

    I would make any excuse to not go to her party, if I were you. But this NEEDS an update! Please keep us posted!

    1. Gretchen Weiners (OP)*

      Yes, we’re very good friends so I do know why she left. Our company is notorious for not offering a good work-life balance, and she needed to take time to focus on family. That also might provide a little context for her thought that the company needs to celebrate its employees more :)

      1. Anonymous*

        But it confuses me why she would still be involved in the company when she left if it wasn’t working out for her. I’m guessing she still has an attachment to the company, as you have said that she’s a founder.

        Still, her intentionally leaving out several employees and all your managers for a company even is concerning. It just tells me that she has a major beef with those people if she’s going to leave them out like that. If she was paying for it herself and it was a private party, then she has every right to invite whoever she wants. But since this is a company-sponsored event and she wants to do the t-shirt thing, it just reeks of “I only value employees that I like.” That’s upsetting and just goes to show that she’s very immature. Not to mention she seems like she has been someone who always got her way.

        And I hate to say it, but with you going just enables her behavior. I do want an update, but that’s the price you’ll have to pay.

      2. Liz*

        But no one actually went to her and requested that she help them plan a celebration of themselves, from which a select few would be excluded to make a point, right?

        Do you see how her over-the-top unsolicited assistance for a problem that not everyone perceives as a problem (she left because of the issue, but your coworkers DIDN’T) is a huge field of waving red flags spelling out “Boundary Issues!!!”

  6. Camellia*

    “…give up all rights to any sort of decision-making ever again.”

    I love this! Don’t we all have a mental list of people like this?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Because it’s amazing and entertaining!

      But I may have done her a disservice by cutting her first paragraph, which read:

      I recently read your post about a workplace clique making people feel “left out,” by talking about their weekend in front of other coworkers that they didn’t invite to join. By and large readers thought that the complaining coworkers were immature and childish. I’d have to know more about the situation to determine whether or not I agree, but I’d like your thoughts on a situation that’s happening right now at work. Is it the same as this – or is it different?

      1. fposte*

        Hm, that with the rest of it makes me think the OP is focusing mostly on the exclusion aspect, which I think is the least of the problem here, given my doubts that this party is actually going to come to fruition. Or maybe it’s such a mess that it’s hard for the OP to pick elements out.

        You can’t throw an official party for a company you quit from. You can’t ask the company to pay for it. Trying to do those things will professionally harm you.

        1. Gretchen Weiners (OP)*

          I was definitely focusing on the exclusion aspect. I told her my thoughts on asking CEO for money to support party and that I didn’t think it was appropriate unless she’d open it up to all staff.

          Her thought isn’t that it would be an “official” party any more than happy hours are “official” company events.

          But the party is absolutely happening- there is no doubt about that. It’s September 1, and there’s at least 40 confirmed guests. It’s the Tshirts and asking for CEO to pay that I don’t know will happen.

          1. fposte*

            I’m coming around to your point of view on that being the problem with the broadest impact at the moment, especially as you haven’t stated that there’s no way your CEO would get involved in this craziness.

            Does the CEO know and respect you? Could you tell him/her that much as you love your friend, you’re concerned about an official company endorsement of excluding people–in a way that’s advertised at work, no less?

      2. JLH*

        AAM, that’s why _you_ posted it. :o)

        Why _she_ asks it is a different story. I think she knows very well it’s wrong, and from these comments I’d say she’s looking for validation, not advice.

    2. Blinx*

      I think it’s because the OP is in a very tough place — the woman she writes about is well liked and is a good friend.

      1. Liz*

        Er, sure. I have my doubts.

        But even if it’s true that this woman is “well-liked” that really shouldn’t be a problem for the OP, unless she has some deep need to be liked by the same people who like that woman. To quote the party-thrower “This isn’t middle school” and we actually are allowed to decide whether or not we like a person based on our own opinion, rather than by vote or whatever, right?

    3. Jamie*

      Probably as a public service. Nothing entertains and unites the masses like the chance to mock an anonymous candidate for the Guiness Book under the “Most unintentionally ironic and simultaneously worst idea EVER” category.

    4. EM*

      It sounds like the OP’s former coworker is used to getting her way and is likely a skilled maniupulator. The OP may be caught in her net.

      I love AAM’s answer. I really admire people who can cut to the chase like this.

      OP: this sounds like a person you might think twice about being friends with. Do you see your former coworker often? Is it always on her terms, as in she’ll call you to do things last-minute but never has time when you do the inviting? I had a friend like this in high school, and I thought, “never again”.

      1. Gretchen Weiners (OP)*

        I’m definitely not caught in a “net.” She’s honestly a very giving person —although this is something I see as problematic that she doesn’t, haha.

        We just recently took a trip to the beach together (and she paid for everything when I said I would need to cancel due to finances). It stinks that all that’s known of her is this terrible decision, haha, but she’s really great.

        1. KimberlyRose*

          She’s not giving at all, actually. This is someone who wants to tell the people she doesn’t like, “we’re having a party and *you’re* not invited, so there!” Want to have a party? Great! Want to make absolutely sure the non-invited people know they were excluded? Not even on the same planet as “great.” I know you don’t want to see it, because you’re benefiting from her right now, but the fact is that this is not a caring, giving person. This is someone who buys her friends, and it looks like it’s worked with you.

          1. Rana*


            Nice and giving people don’t score popularity points at other people’s expense. They just don’t.

          2. Lils*

            I suggest you test your friend to see how “giving” she is. Explain politely that you can’t help or attend the party and see how that goes. Money says you’ll be one of those viciously excluded, probably with extra venom for being a “traitor”.

            Face it, OP: you *are* one of the mean girls.

        2. fposte*

          She *can* be very giving, and that’s great, and I definitely agree that we’re not seeing the full picture of her.

          But, on the other hand, it means that we’re seeing this action more clearly than those people who are dispelled positively toward her–perhaps like those employees she wishes to publicly flog. With friends, you start with the positive presumption–X is great, so what she does is generally great; it’s really hard to get to “I love her, but this is really horrible, and it doesn’t even mean well.” Sometimes that’s actually the tack you can take if you discuss it with a friend–“This is not the generous and reasonable X I know, who I couldn’t imagine deliberately and openly hurting people–what’s up?”

        3. Mishsmom*

          OP, i was naive like that too. i had a friend at work and she was giving and nice and funny and sure, a little crazy, but who isn’t? the thing is, enough people knew she was bad news and i kept thinking “but she’s so nice” – well, maybe this woman you are talking about is giving and all that – but is she really giving – or just to the people on HER side? is she really that nice? or just to people SHE thinks are worthwhile. one doesn’t have to love everyone, but exclusion and visions of grandeur are not great character traits… just because she doesn’t treat you that way does not make her a good person, it just puts you in her circle is all…

          1. Piper*


            So very true. Someone with the propensity for nastiness to strangers or random coworkers can be counted on to eventually turn on their “friends” as well once they deem these people no longer useful to them.

  7. Blinx*

    OP – Just out of curiosity, why did your friend walk out last year, and what has she been doing in the mean time?

    1. Gretchen Weiners (OP)*

      Our company is notorious for not offering a good work-life balance, and she needed to take time to focus on family. That also might provide a little context for her thought that the company needs to celebrate its employees more :)

  8. Anonymous*

    I love that this is all under the banner of being “drama-free.”

    I do think that even approaching the CEO with this is likely to kill her rehire chances, which is something a good friend might be able to point out to her. As a good friend, you might also know if this is typical for her (the “leaving suddenly” sounds like there might be a little history here) or if this represents a break in her behavior that could indicate problems in her life or health that a friend could fairly inquire about. And does she have another job now, and do they know she’s devoting so much effort to the promotion of another company? By the time you get to the t-shirts they’re incidental. This is fundamentally problematic and self-destructive at a basic level.

    Any chance her strong relationship with the CEO and open door for return is in her head but not the CEO’s? I could see this as the action of somebody who was tactfully eased out and still really identified with the place where she didn’t succeed.

      1. Gretchen Weiners (OP)*

        No, she was not eased out at all. Many people came and left our company, but the CEO actually came to her and asked her to stay, said that the company could make it work for her. And she declined.

        Also, while it likely surprises you – no, it’s not in her head about the relationship with the CEO. At the graduation ceremony for her former students, he approached her again. I was standing right next to them both and heard the words “we’d love to have you back anytime,” come from his mouth. I’ll admit I didn’t believe her “CEO loves me” routine until I heard it for myself.

        While she was employed for our company, she achieved many accolades and demonstrated herself to be a model teacher (I was told to observe her when I was struggling).

        **PS To give you more context- no it isn’t unusual at all for teachers and staff to attend important events for their former students.

        1. Tater B.*

          Hmmm….this company sounds really interesting. Are there any openings? *hopeful look*

          Sorry, y’all. I network EVERYWHERE. LOL

        2. Anon2*

          “While she was employed for our company, she achieved many accolades and demonstrated herself to be a model teacher (I was told to observe her when I was struggling).”

          In light of her “people need do soul-searching why they’re not invited” paired with her “wear this shirt at work to increase hype”, the fact that she was considered such a great teacher frankly scares me. I was teacher’s pet in some way or another from K-12 and I still ran into plenty of terrible teachers who were more “high school” than the students they were teaching. These were very popular teachers in general, but they were also gossipy, back-biting, immature and if a student didn’t buy into their hype, then that student must have a bad attitude – NOT good teachers actually. Ugh.

          There is no problem teaching kids the truth – not everyone likes everyone else and they don’t have to. With the corrollary – you’re not a bad person for not inviting people you don’t like to a private party. But once you transition over to “company sponsorship” and branded tshirts, you are firmly planted in public party status and it is NOT ok to then exclude employees simply because you do not like them. It is also a TERRIBLE lesson for your students – who will almost certainly overhear someone talking about it, not to mention that they’ll see the tshirts and ask about them.

    1. Jamie*

      “And does she have another job now, and do they know she’s devoting so much effort to the promotion of another company?”

      Completely uneducated guess, but this has the stink of someone wanting to branch into the party planning/branding/event marketing field and instead of actually drumming up clients she’s trying to hijack them. Like maybe people won’t notice.

      Wild guess, but the t-shirt thing has a stunt like quality to it.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        That’s what I was thinking also. At first I was thinking that she just can’t afford the party and wants someone to foot the bill, but now I’m wondering if she’s trying to start a business and is using the party as her first “official” gig. Especially because she wants people to wear the t-shirts in order to “create hype”.

        Either way, this is just bizarre. I SOOO want an update on this one.

        1. Gretchen Weiners (OP)*

          No, marketing/party planning is not a career interest of hers. She’s gainfully employed and doing well at another school.

      2. littlemoose*

        Jamie that makes a lot of sense. I think either that or Manichean episode are the most likely culprits. If it’s the former, then it’s a terrible idea. If it’s the latter, then please get your friend some help.

      3. Flynn*

        That does fit.

        My other thought was, based on her ‘suddenly leaving for family reasons’, that she’s out of work and obsessing over her old job and making this a pet project to distract herself or feel productive.

        And maybe to get her foot back in the door and/or prove herself to the CEO.

      4. Gretchen Weiners (OP)*

        Incidentally she does have a marketing/planning background and was responsible for taking on the added tasks of doing prom, graduation, etc. while she worked for our company.

        She’s doing quite well at her current place of employment, and because we are teachers she’s currently on vacation.

  9. Kate*

    If you can’t afford to throw a big, luxurious party- DON’T THROW ONE!
    Really, there are few things tackier than being invited to an event and then being expected to help with the cost. I can entertain myself, thank you.
    It sounds like she is either trying to launch a career as a an event planner or go back to work at the original company.
    If it were me, I’d stay clear of this disaster in the making.

    1. Gretchen Weiners (OP)*

      She actually has reserved $500 of her own money for the party. And its kind of potluck style so people should either bring a bottle or a dish to contribute.

      1. Anonymous*

        So she’s spending $500 on what, alcohol then? Potluck usually implies that the affair is going to be low-budget, as that’s kind of the point of that party style. Everyone brings a dish and the costs get split roughly evenly amongst all participants. I don’t even want to think about what she wants to use the $200 from the CEO for. And what kind of professional adult needs to ask another professional adult for $200, for a party?!

      2. Elizabeth West*


        If people have to bring stuff, then she is NOT covering it. And if other people are excluded, that’s going to create even more bad feelings.

  10. Anonymous*

    To the poster of this story: you did your part by warning your friend that this idea was maniacal.

    Your part is done.

    If the CEO chooses to go forward with this odd arrangement, it is his decision to explain.

    I can’t wait until you tell us all you had the chance to tell your friend, “I told you so.”

  11. Sophie*

    I…what…I don’t even…gah…

    I’d like to know what Ms. Crazy’s end game is. At first it sounds like she just wants to throw a random party and invite some old coworkers. Okay, that’s cool…and then it turns into some of kind exclusive launch complete with commemorative t-shirts she expects others to wear to advertise said exclusive launch. What is she launching? More crazy, I expect. Please keep us updated, OP! I truly wish the best for you and hope you maintain sanity throughout this!

    1. Jenn*

      Dunder Mifflin Infinity! All of the different branches can “participate” in the party…..via Skype. ;-)

    2. Gretchen Weiners (OP)*

      You’ve described it perfectly!! Absolutely perfectly! This is what she is doing. And she’s launching “the party of the year.” Her end game is just for her friends to have a great time because working at our company requires a lot of sacrifice! The party is September 1. I will definitely update yall.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        OP, I can’t tell from your posts here how much you think your friend is in the wrong. Are you even semi on board with her plan, or do you see how absolutely awful this is?

        1. Gretchen Weiners (OP)*

          I was excited that somehow, someone was able to see the party from my friend’s perspective. . . because that’s exactly how she’s clarified it for me.

          I think it’s fine to invite who you want to invite to a party. And if it’s the entire building except for 4 people, I think that’s okay too. What I think is wrong is flaunting it in the faces of people who were not invited and thinking that the company should at all contribute financially :)

          Hope that makes sense!

          1. Anonymous*

            No, it is wrong because she’s asking for the CEO to pay it. If the company’s money is going towards that party, then everybody that works at the company should be invited. It’s common courtesy and won’t create any rifts with employees and upper management. Imagine the drama and the BS that will result from this party if people find out they’re not invited.

            You’re doing nothing but supporting and enabling her behavior.

          2. anon.*

            Hmm…Yeah, I would never do that. If I was inviting 40 people and leaving out four, I would just invite the four. It just seems deliberately exclusive and hurtful otherwise. But I’ve always been frowned at for being overly inclusive. I hate to be rude or risk hurting someone’s feelings–even someone I don’t like. It just seems…kinder?
            Kind of like my parents inviting every girl in my kindergarten class to my birthday party. Even the ones I didn’t like. Even though they didn’t want 30 five year olds running around the house. Because they didn’t want to be unkind to anyone.

            1. Emily*

              In sixth grade my friends and I threw an end of year party and invited our entire class except for two girls. (One was very overweight and the other was shy and foreign. We were pretty low on the popularity totem ourselves and did it not because we didn’t like those girls, but because we wanted the cooler kids to think we were throwing a cool party.) That was 16 years ago and I still want to hide my face and self-flagellate when I remember my cruelty. I wish I had had a chance to apologize to them. I can at least console myself with the excuse that I was an insecure 11 year old, but I can’t imagine how an adult would justify it to themselves.

              1. Lynne*

                Emily, speaking as someone who was one of those excluded bullied kids – forgive yourself. Looking back, I cannot find it in my heart to blame 11 or 12 year olds for their actions, however I felt back then. Kids that age, by and large, haven’t…grown the inner strength to do what’s right and stand by their convictions. They haven’t really even figured *out* their own convictions. They are so vulnerable to peer pressure, to their own insecurities, to following abusive patterns laid out by the adults or other children around them…

                We were all just kids back then. Please don’t keep punishing yourself when you remember this. That you have grown into a compassionate, responsible adult is *enough.*

        2. Kelly O*

          I’m having similar thoughts. The OP seems to be completely on board with this, and is only worried about the people who would be excluded, and then that only seems to be a minor concern.

          I just do not understand this gung-ho, “oh Jane is just FABULOUS, she only wants to do this one completely batshit crazy thing that I am on board with because I’m invited and she’s really awesome and walked out for completely valid reasons and we all want her back but she’s got this wonderful new job and doesn’t need us except to throw wonderful parties and ask other people to contribute which is not weird at all.”

          (And so endeth the longest run on sentence I believe I’ve typed in some time.)

          1. Jamie*

            I hereby relinquish my throne as ‘Reigning Queen of Run-On Sentence’ to Kelly.

            I’ll ship the tiara and scepter UPS – you’ll know the box is from me by the Hello Kitty packing tape.

            oh and you wrote…
            “and we all want her back”

            I’m thinking there are probably about 15 people there who don’t want her back.

            1. khilde*

              Yes! Have Jamie send you something and it will come festooned with Hello Kitty tape (thanks for the Cookie Butter). Best packaging I’ve received in a long time :)

              1. Jamie*

                Trader Joe’s needs to offer AAM reader’s discounts on Cookie Butter since we’re the reason for the uptick in their sales :).

                I was thinking about this thread yesterday and it’s kind of funny that so many strangers are offended on behalf of the people getting left out, when I am sure they probably wouldn’t be caught dead there anyway.

                I mean when people don’t like you, you kind of know…and you tend to not want to go to parties at their house. Especially parties where you have to help supply the food.

                I know, it’s the principle – which I totally stand behind – but it’s just funny that if they read this thread there would probably be 15 people saying, “no, no, thanks anyway but please find another cause. We’re good…we don’t need the t-shirts or the drama – thanks just the same.”

          2. Rana*

            I agree. I usually try to be open-minded and kind towards the OPs, because it’s not like I’m perfect, but…

            OP: Your friend is planning on doing something that’s (a) unprofessional, (b) mean, and (c) really strange, and all you’re worried about is whether there will be t-shirt souvenirs of the event?

            The t-shirts are the *least* of the problem here.

            1. Gretchen Weiners (OP)*

              What? Ummm…. no, I don’t want a T-shirt. And I can’t respond to your comment without being rude. Read through more of the comments, especially the ones I was having with fposte. Instead of being judgmental, he/she actually is trying to help me.

              1. Rana*

                I didn’t think you wanted a t-shirt.

                I’m responding to the assumption that *her* wanting t-shirts is the problem. It’s A problem, but it’s minor compared to the larger lack of judgement here.

          3. Jenn*

            Exactly: OP is in a great position here, because she was INVITED. Now imagine being one of the employees who isn’t invited, and has to work with a bunch of co-workers wearing the same ridiculous shirt on Casual Friday, promoting a party you conspicuously weren’t invited to.

          4. karenb*

            Kelly O –

            I have a huge girl crush on you… Love the way you phrase things, in all the comments you have left, thru all the posts in this response and others… Batshit crazy had me rolling…

        3. Rob*

          I’ve read about halfway through the comments, and the conclusion I’ve come to is that the OP is beyond thrilled for this party and is just looking for some kind of justification for everything to be green lit as is.

          I also suspect that the OP is part of the clique of the friend and is also trying to figure out how to make everything seem normal to all of the coworkers (and also try to figure out how to smooth things over from those who didn’t get invited).

          If the CEO has any sense at all, he tells the party host to ‘get lost’ at the request for cash. Plus, if the host of the party has already ponied up $500 for the party, why can’t she come up with the other $200 that is needed?

          1. Jamie*

            “I’ve read about halfway through the comments, and the conclusion I’ve come to is that the OP is beyond thrilled for this party and is just looking for some kind of justification for everything to be green lit as is.”

            AAM is the last place I would go to try to get tacit approval for unprofessional behavior.

            1. Rob*

              I’m right there with you Jamie. I didn’t say it was a good reason, but it seems like it’s what the OP was up to…

          2. Anonymous*

            That’s what I was thinking. She wants validation for enabling this woman’s behavior and she doesn’t want to take any slack for it. She wants to put the blame on her friend, but she doesn’t want to take responsibility for encouraging her friend’s behavior. It just goes to show that she doesn’t care about the people being excluded; she just doesn’t want them to know about it.

      2. Flynn*

        Um, I think they were being horrified, not agreeing that it was an awesome idea at all (if you’re referring to Sophie’s comment, which it looked like you’re answering).

      3. Laura L*

        A launch party is used to introduce people to a new product/brand/website/person/something. The party itself isn’t the launch. Something has to be launched.

  12. Catherine*

    So much of this kills me, but this line is priceless: ““your staff works so hard for you and sacrifices for you, you should celebrate them, and I’m willing to put on this party to help start the year off on an energized note.” But only celebrate the ones I like. Because the other ones aren’t worth celebrating and energizing. They’ll understand why after some soul-searching.

    1. KT*

      Exactly! Let’s celebrate only the people I like, and then brand them by denying them party t-shirts!

      1. fposte*

        Maybe the 2nd choice was different t-shirts: “I wasn’t liked enough to be invited to COMPANY KICKOFF 2012.”

        1. Jamie*

          Not to mention – according to the OPs letter this includes all the managers.

          Since the CEO is invited (I’m assuming, because if not being asked to pay takes on a whole new level of weird) that means invited would be upper management and those below manager level.

          Yeah, wearing a t-shirt to a work party from which my manager was excluded wouldn’t be a great idea.

          So everyone should be celebrated and energized except managers, and 15 other people? Interesting.

          1. Gretchen Weiners (OP)*

            The CEO is NOT invited. Nor do I think he would attend…..its a way for teachers/peers to celebrate together. The funny thing is that management might understand because of other wayyyyyy tinier get togethers (i.e. about 15 of us took a trip to the poconos) …. it was like “you kids have fun on your trip?” rather than “f**k you for not inviting us.”

            1. Rana*

              I am really, really boggled that you can’t see how awful this is. There is a *huge* difference between a group of co-workers deciding to do something fun together on their own time (your trip to the Poconos) and a company-sponsored event.

              It’s one thing to ask a former colleague and current friend to chip in for a private event; it’s an entirely different thing to ask that an official company event be conducted according to the whims of a private individual who no longer works for the company!

              I honestly want to know: how is it that you don’t see this?

            2. Lindsay H.*

              So, hold the phone? She wants to ask the CEO for money to support this cockamamie idea and then not invite him/her??? BRILLIANT!! Maybe I can con my mother into paying for my wedding and not invite her. I mean, she does owe it to the rest of the family since she is so tough to deal with. But, I’ve said too much. Uncle Carl might get wise to the notion he isn’t on the guest list.

            1. Jamie*

              Except for the OP who was liked enough to get invited – but was definitely cool enough to share this with us.

      2. Catherine*

        Not to mention how she’s turning the HUGE favor the CEO would be doing for her into her doing a favor for the CEO. One that would undoubtedly lower moral and cause strife in the organization, should the plan come off as she desires.

  13. Wilton Businessman*

    If your CEO agrees, then at least you know to start looking for work. If he doesn’t, then you know you need to start looking for new friends. Either way, it’s clearly in the bucket of “MYOB”.

      1. Anony Mouse*

        Yup, my mind went there pretty quickly as well.

        Now, it could be a thing where she lies through her teeth to the CEO, but if he gets on board knowing all that is laid out here, they are sleeping together.

      2. Ellen M.*

        ^ I was thinking the same thing. She must have some (ahem) talents that he particularly enjoys and values.

      3. Kimmie Sue*

        Yep, my mind went there also…so you can bet there are at least a handful of current employees who have wondered the same thing. Extremely inappropriate choices and I’m sorry but my impression of the OP is that she is defending some pretty outrageous stuff based on someone being nice and well intentioned.

        Sorry to play the “age card” but I’m curious if we are dealing with younger (not professionally seasoned) people?

  14. KT*

    I have to wonder about the real reasons this woman left the company. She clearly has an unhealthy attachment to it, and some serious dislike for the “negative” people she is childishly excluding. I bet you anything she’s throwing this party to make a deluded point–perhaps to show everyone (especially CEO) how fun, awesome, and amazing she is while making those excluded soooooo jealous they are missing out on both her party and her t-shirt (you know, like one might have done in middle-school).
    She’s going to try to convince the CEO this is a celebration, but she is clearly making quite an effort to start some drama.

    1. Gretchen Weiners (OP)*

      This is an interesting point. I have noticed that she bleeds our company way more than I have. She has a deep, deep love of it, so much that it gets annoying to me when I talk about my dissatisfaction with the company and wanting to leave it.

      1. perrik*

        >>I have noticed that she bleeds our company way more than I have. She has a deep, deep love of it, so much that it gets annoying to me when I talk about my dissatisfaction with the company and wanting to leave it.<<

        She's happy at her new job, yet still has this (unhealthy) emotional attachment to her old one.

        "My boyfriend Bob and I broke up last year, which was really sad but we grew in different directions and it was the best for us both. I'm so happy with my new boyfriend! Oh, I'm throwing a birthday party for Bob. I'm going to ask his new girlfriend to pay for some of the party, because this is something she really should do. She really should show her appreciation to all his wonderful friends. Well, not all of them. I'm not inviting some of them because I don't think his new girlfriend should acknowledge them. They're icky. What size t-shirt do you want?"

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          This. Exactly this.

          OP, can we ask roughly how old you and this former coworker are? It seems like there might be some issues of … youth going on here.

          1. Gretchen Weiners (OP)*

            Hard to keep up with these comments.

            She’s 30-40; I can never remember her exact age. I’m 26.

        2. Anonymous*

          Excellent analogy, but you left out the part where Bob really wants the old girlfriend back, and says it to her in front of the new girlfriend.

          There is no t-shirt large enough for that ego.

      2. Anonymous*

        So she gets to leave the company because it’s not working for her but extols it’s virtues to you and makes you feel bad when it’s not working out for you?

  15. Scott Woode*

    All of the +1’s!

    I read this letter and Alison’s response, both of which induced a hysterical fit of the giggles. I haven’t laughed like this in a very long time.

    OP, please steer clear of the crazy that is about to happen at the office and if there’s a way that you can gracefully bow out of this soiree, then please do so for your own safety. This woman has lost grip of reality. Please keep us in the loop with what happens.

    1. Anonymous Three*

      I suspect the OP made up this whole scenario as there seems to be inconsistencies in the story. Do you work for a company or a school? Your school has a CEO? The OP also seems to be very glib and flippant in replies and personally I think needs to take a step back and focus more on behaving like a mature professional and stop feeding on all the party nonsense. If I were the OP, i woukd not want to be associated with something like this. Also, I think the people who were not liked well enough to be invited are probably breathing a sigh of relief and will just chuckle to themselves at those who are silly enough to wear the t-shirts to work. It sounds like this place would be an awfully dysfunctional place to work!

      1. Anonymous*

        My guess is that this is a charter school. There are a TON of them out there that use business lingo to define their administrative positions in an (misguided IMHO) attempt to show that they do things differently and solve education problems with their business skills. And I don’t think this is made up–schools and other jobs where you have to care for and educate children or young adults are seething vats of personality disorder and conflict (in my experience–and I have experience).

  16. Sparky629*

    Ok, I may be totally off base on this one. Is the ex co-worker having an intimate affair with the CEO (or had one)?

    Seriously, the only thing I could think of when I was reading this letter was…’she has to be sleeping with him to feel that level of comfort asking him to pay for that party’. Also, the way she phrased her pitch and the open- invite to return to a job she abruptly left, kinda screams affair or intimate relationship.

    In my mind, I can only see an SO or wife saying to the CEO of a company, “your staff works so hard for you and sacrifices for you, you should celebrate them, and I’m willing to put on this party to help start the year off on an energized note.”

    In my experience, the only ones who’ve ever felt it was OK to do something like this were the women having an affair with the boss. They didn’t feel the need to observe the professional boundaries that the rest of us were bond to.

    But I could be wrong and she’s just a whole lotta crazy. *shrug*

    1. Jamie*

      That was my initial thought, too…but if that was the case she could just ask him to pay for it as a personal favor and then invite whomever she wants. No need to involve the company in an official way at all.

      So who’s got the over/under on Affair vs. Launching Event Planning Business?

        1. Gretchen Weiners (OP)*

          Dropped. It’s really not in her head. The CEO truly valued her and would take her back in a second.

    2. Gretchen Weiners (OP)*

      Really interesting, but this is not possible. It would certainly make for an interesting TV show, haha.

  17. Anonymous*

    My first thought was Edwards and Hunter, personally. End-run to pay mistress, have a good time, use company instead of personal money, and not let on to the CEO’s spouse. I have an active imagination though, so it’s probably good old-fashioned cronyism instead with no added scandal beyond what’s already spelled out in plain English.

    I’m kind of wondering on AAM here, though, since she took the whole thing as an opportunity to advise the party-thrower instead of the OP. Yes, if this actually goes through as described, it will be monumentally bad management from the CEO and questionable judgement from the party-thrower. However, there’s really absolutely nothing to prevent it from happening exactly as described, and the OP has no real say. It is, as you say, not illegal. OP should really be in CYA mode. Come up with a conflicting plan and accidentally lose the T-shirt, OP. Then never talk with this crazy party-thrower again. Then, if the CEO actually acts on any of this, check out AAM’s wonderful tips on how to write a cover letter.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      That’s true. I had the impression that she was just asking for an outsider’s opinion of the whole thing, rather than advice for herself. (The only advice I’d have for her would be to run far away from the maniacal friend.)

      1. Gretchen Weiners (OP)*

        I was definitely looking for an opinion on the whole issue, although I’d love it if you could zoom in on this:

        If a person went to the CEO and said they felt “left out” would they be childish (as people said in your earlier post about 7-10 coworkers getting together and talking about their fun in front of people they didn’t hang out with) or no?

        And at what point does it become “childish” to feel hurt/left out about coworkers and others building relationships together without you?


        1. Jamie*

          How much did they have to hear about it at work? You said she has many people involved in this, how big a chunk of work time is devoted to discussing and planning it?

          And if the CEO did contribute, what could that $200 have done for the workforce – at work – for a little morale booster? It’s some pizza, or a couple of lunches ordered in. A better coffee machine? For people currently working there. At work.

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Assuming the CEO is contributing money toward the party, you mean?

          Honestly, if someone was excluded from a company-sponsored party, a sensible person would start looking for a new job. That’s how big a deal it is. It’s not childish.

          The difference here is that it’s company/CEO-sponsored, unlike the previous post you’re referring to, where it was individual coworkers on their own time with no company involvement.

          1. Gretchen Weiners (OP)*

            NO, assuming that the nixes the idea of the T-shirts AND asking the CEO for money.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Honestly, it’s too late, even if she doesn’t do those things. The fact that she wanted to (and persisted, even after you pointed out why she shouldn’t) has revealed what kind of person she is, and how she’s thinking of this event. The jig is up.

              1. Jamie*

                Thank you – THIS.

                If a bunch of us are out on the town for a girls night out and I think it would be super fun to get matching t-shirts and hold up a couple of convenience stores – because that’s how I like to bond – and my friends nix the idea because it’s CRAZY and I give in, because fine…I’m wrong…whatever…

                Just because calmer heads prevailed – it still tells you a whole lot about me that I even came up with the idea in the first place. None of it good.

                1. Andrea*

                  Jamie, I can’t quite put my finger on it, but you sound like a blast. I’m not into matching t-shirts, though, and I’ve never held up a convenience store, but something about the way you just put that out there kind of makes me think it would be fun, morals and laws be damned, so yeah, I’ll give it a try. I mean, why not? You seem pretty nice, so I’m going to assume that you’re right. Besides, all of my friends will be there, and I don’t want to miss out.

                  Oh, sorry, must have been channeling the OP for a second.

                  OP, I don’t care if all your work friends are there or not. I don’t care if this woman paid for your vacation. It’s not a good idea to maintain contact with her, and you should not attend this party. She clearly has a screw loose. Maybe she needs help; maybe she just never left high school. But this is not normal or healthy behavior; it sure isn’t professional. And your refusal or inability to recognize that is concerning.

                2. Rana*

                  What Andrea said.

                  This is not normal nor acceptable behavior, let alone “nice” or “wonderful” behavior.

                3. Laura L*

                  Well, of course your friends think it’s crazy. Everyone knows you don’t wear matching t-shirts to rob convenience stores. You wear matching pants with words on the butt. Sheesh. :-)

          2. Anony Mouse*

            Just to put a fine point on it: the money AND the t-shirts with the company logo are a problem. If there were no money involved, but the OP’s friend bought t-shirts for everyone with the company logo on them, that would still be really problematic.

            1. Kelly O*

              This just occurred to me, but you know the last thing I want from companies I don’t work for anymore is a t-shirt from a party with a logo on it.

              That would go double if I left because the balance was so bad, and the employees so under-appreciated that I felt like throwing a party to raise morale. (Which I think is where I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around this whole thing.)

              So you throw a party and invite all but four people, to improve morale and start the year off right, for a company that no longer employs you, but if morale is so bad, why would ANYONE want to wear a t-shirt when they didn’t have to? And I know, you’ll say it’s not about the t-shirt, but riddle me this –

              If it’s truly about engaging employees and improving morale, and starting the year off right, what on earth do you think those four people who were left out are going to think? And what about the dozen others who wonder “WTF is Jane throwing a party? She doesn’t work here anymore, does she?” And then toss in the other half dozen who are purely coming to see what happens, and so they can say yes, they witnessed That Party.

              Because all of those things really improve morale. (And am I the only one who now really wants to know what educational facility this is, so I can stay away from it, or make sure my kid does not go there if this is how their faculty and staff functions? Because I’m certain that parents and students would LOVE that.)

              1. KLH*

                And then it’s also a potluck! If you’re stressed out and working at a place with poor work-life balance and an equally poor grasp of boundaries, a potluck doesn’t make anything better or help get you energized for a new project.

                Is this a charter school, by the way? You keep describing it as a company and a CEO but you’re in the business of teaching and working with kids.

        3. fposte*

          You don’t sponsor events that leave people out deliberately (to teach them a lesson, apparently) and then advertise that event in the workplace. That’s planting a bomb in your organization. There’d be nothing childish about this being the final straw for people; there *is* something childish about insisting on doing it.

        4. Anonymous*

          You and your “friend” haven’t outgrown childish yet. You’re trolling a lovely blog with a made-up scenario for your own personal strange little ego stroke. You got your 150ish posts, and probably 150 more before AAM gets bored of playing with you and locks the thread. Nothing you’ve said adds up. I hope you feel like you’ve stirred the hornet’s nest enough and buzz away, so we can get back to posters with real concerns.

          1. Mishsmom*

            fwiw… i’m not sure someone could make this up… it’s that outlandish, ridiculous and pathetic

        5. danr*

          If all but a few people are invited to a party from a firm/school where everyone else is invited, and they all wear t-shirts about it, and the CEO paid for it, and it’s being promoted as a ‘morale builder’, start of the year party…. If I were left out, I’d be plenty pissed. It’s one thing to not attend of your own choice, it’s another to be excluded from a quasi official event.
          If the CEO is smart, he will not pay for it, and refuse permission to use the firm logo anywhere near the party or stuff associated with it. Otherwise, I see disaster for the school’s morale.

      2. Kathryn T.*

        I am beginning to think the OP isn’t actually a “friend” of the person in question, IYKWIM.

  18. Kate*

    It is NOT the job of the former employee to raise morale at her old company, especially since some will be excluded.
    She did the right thing by leaving if she felt the company has a poor work-life balance, but it is not her job now to correct that, nor should she undermine morale by offering to reward some but not all employees.
    Odd, that she feels that the company needs more balance but she feels OK with denying some current employees that opportunity.

    1. Gretchen Weiners (OP)*

      This is a great point here, which is partly why I tried to talk to her a few times about opening it up, especially when she started talking about T-shirts to hype up the party.

        1. Gretchen Weiners (OP)*

          *Le sigh. I wish I could say that! Usually the conversation would go “Yes, I hear you, and when Abbey and I first started planning this I wanted to have it completely open for staff, but then Abbey brought up a point that certain people don’t get along and others might not feel that they can cut loose and really enjoy themselves in front of administration, so we decided to keep it invite only. And then I went back and said no, let’s open it, and Abbey and Jane (who is going to coordinate all the food) really stressed that certain staff don’t get along, so we should keep it to the ones we’ve hung out with before and had a good time with.” SHIT. This really is starting to sound like Mean Girls….

          1. fposte*

            Why, yes, yes it does. If it’s a company morale event, the goal can’t be to protect people from colleagues they don’t like, because they’re all the company and they all have morale.

            Is she usually so at the whim of Abbey and Jane, or is it likelier that they’re getting credited for plans that they merely didn’t argue with?

          2. Emily*

            Dear gods, if people don’t get along that is THEIR problem and they need to figure out how to interact like adults at a polite social event.

            A couple years back I had a major, 3-month long feud with one of my closest friends. We had all the same friends and hung out in the same group all the time. When we stopped speaking, I told my closest friend we had in common who was typically the host of our gatherings, what was going on between us. I told her, “I just want you to know what’s going on, but I don’t want this to impact you. You can keep inviting us both to parties, and if I feel like I don’t want to be around him, then it’s my problem to figure out how I’m going to deal with that, whether it’s to avoid him at the party or stay home. I know that my fight with him is not your fight with him and I don’t want you to be in the middle of it. I just wanted you to know what was up in case you noticed distance between us.” Throughout three months of giving each other the silent treatment in group company, only one of our other friends even noticed we were fighting because we didn’t call attention to it. Eventually we worked things out, repaired our friendship, and our entire friendship group was still in tact because we hadn’t dragged them into our dispute.

  19. Another Emily*

    I know this person is a good friend of yours OP, but she really has temporarily taken leave of her senses. Now that you’ve said your piece, which I think was good of you, I think you should bow out of the party. Anyone who goes might seem unprofessional, because the whole situation is bizarre.

    This doesn’t mean you have to stop being friends with her. I love my friends but it doesn’t mean I participate in every one of their hair-brained schemes. :)

  20. Morgan*

    This is one of those situations where you can’t see how weird it is until you are removed from it. The OP keeps defending most of her friend’s actions because she is a nice person and friend. While that may be true, this party is like Mean Girls for the corporate world.

    “And none for Gretchen Weiners, bye.”

  21. Data Monkey*

    OP, do you work at a charter school? That is really the only thing that makes sense (at least to me!) given your other comments.

    I can sorta see why your friend would want to have a party for the teachers but not for administration. But I really can’t imagine anything good coming of not inviting all the teachers though.

    1. EM*

      I wonder this too. The terminology has been confusing me. Schools don’t usually have CEO’s, I guess unless they are for-profit training centers.

      1. Data Monkey*

        Actually some charter schools have CEOs. The ones that do usually have multiple schools and a central office. They are called a particular name to recognize this structure and distinguish them from single campus charter schools, but I can’t remember what it is called at the moment.

        More likely though the OP just replaced principal with CEO.

    2. Andrea*

      Yes, please answer this. I am dying to know if these people are actually responsible for educating young people.

    3. Rob*

      Anytime ‘CEO’ and ‘school’ are in the same sentence, I cringe. This is clearly a school setting, so I’m guessing it’s a charter school or a post-secondary technical school. I’m not a fan of for-profit education, but that is a topic for a different time ;)

  22. Ask a Manager* Post author

    I am very confused by your stance, OP. On one hand, you seem to get that this is an awful thing for her to try to do. On the hand, you’re planning to go and you don’t really seem to condemn it or her intentions, and you keep describing her as a great person. Do you not seeing how mean-spirited and unhealthy her behavior is?

    1. Gretchen Weiners (OP)*

      Tell me what is mean spirited and unhealthy about throwing a party for your friends (who happen to be old coworkers).

      The reason you might be confused is because I’m conflicted. I don’t see there being a problem with throwing a party for friends, and if she nixes the T-shirts and doesn’t approach the CEO, I think it would take away all questionable elements.

      Or do you NOT think that?

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        It’s the exclusionary part that’s at issue — the t-shirts (which is INSANE), the excluding certain people, the claiming it’s to avoid drama when it would clearly cause drama, the say they should do soul-searching. It’s incredibly nasty.

        There’s also just overall delusion here — in thinking it’s reasonable for her to decide a company she doesn’t work for needs to hold a morale-boosting event and she should plan it and ask for it to be funded later. And in being so emotionally invested in a company she no longer works for.

        She doesn’t sound like a nice person. She sounds like a piece of work who you should stay away from.

      2. fposte*

        If she’d just planned on throwing a party for some old friends from the workplace she left a year ago, that would still be a little odd–it’s not a party for all her friends, it’s a party about that workplace–but it wouldn’t be a problem.

        But she’s revealed her other goal now, and that’s to punish some people at your workplace. I don’t know if she’s going to back off from that even if the CEO wisely refuses to fund, attend, or allow t-shirts from this party. The problem for work is solved if she does manage to let that go, but she’s still marked herself as an individual of questionable judgment and punitive tendencies in a way that I’d be wary of in a friend.

        1. jmkenrick*

          Yeah. She’s either unwilling or unable to sympatheize with people whose (legitimate) feelings are not convenient to her, so she’s just writing them off.

          How someone treats the people they don’t like says a lot about them. It sounds like your friend is being disrespectful to the role that these people have because she’s not a huge fan of them. Frankly, that reflects really poorly on her. I would proceed with caution on this friendship.

          That’s an indication of someone who’s going to be less than kind to you if you’re ever the one who’s standing in her way.

          Out of curiosity, how long have you known her? I feel like this behavior is indicative of a mindset that would spill over into other parts of her life.

          1. Gretchen Weiners (OP)*

            I have known her for about 8 months.

            She’s either unwilling or unable to sympatheize with people whose (legitimate) feelings are not convenient to her, so she’s just writing them off.

            I am waiting to see what she will say in regards to my latest contact with her. . . . I hope that she proves this wrong.

            1. Anonymous*

              This is making me a bit suspicous…in some posts you refer to her as a well-liked person and good friend, and making seem like you think she’s a great person, if a bit misguided.

              In this post, your tone makes me think you regard her as a cold, cruel person.

              I’m getting mixed messages here.

            2. khilde*

              I am still making my way through the posts and am late to the party, but I noticed upthread that you said she was in her 30s-40s and you are 26. I am 31 so not much older than you and feel like I can say this since I’ve so recently been there: You’re young and still getting your feet wet into the politics and drama of some workplaces. Don’t damage your reputation and shoot your professional credibility in the foot by hanging around with this woman and allying with her.

              Something very similar happened to my husband when we were in our mid 20s. He was going through a very small program at a tech college and quickly became friends with one of the women in his class. She acted kind of dumb and said some stupid things, but my husband is a nice guy and sees the best in people. It wasn’t until one of the other, more mature classmates pulled him aside and told him that he’s doing himself a disservice by associating with this one woman so much. Turns out she was right and this first classmate turned out to be a major crackpot. The one that was nice enough to tell him to be aware turned out to be a great friend to our family and was a true professional. I think where there’s such an age dispartiy in these situations it’s easier for the younger employee to not see what an older employee has had time to finesse and perfect in terms of questionable behavior. Just keep your head on a swivel and keep your distance from her.

      3. Katie*

        If it were just a party for her friends that happened to include a lot of people she used to work with, that would be one thing. I can even almost understand throwing a party for a company you helped found, but no longer worked for, if you invited the entire company. What I don’t understand is purposely not inviting about half the company, then giving the people who are invited “official” t-shirts, out of some misguided belief that this will either 1) boost morale or 2) avoid drama, because anyone with half a brain can tell you without question that such an arrangement will virtually ensure neither of those goals are achieved. In fact, just the opposite.

        This whole thing is just bizarre. Either your friend is really, really clueless, or this is a calculated attempt to exact some sort of weird revenge on people she used to work with and didn’t care much for. Regardless, you need to make it clear to her that this is completely unacceptable and you CAN NOT participate, knowing the trouble it will cause.

      4. Anonymous*

        I have a (wonderful) friend who is very sociable. Unfortunately, she has also been known to issue inappropriate invitations, leading to some awkward situations (e.g. one time she took me to a party at her office….it was for staff only). Since she doesn’t always get that other party hosts don’t always agree with her that “the more the merrier,” I’ve had to learn to accept her invitations carefully. Sometimes you just need to accept that your friends have some weird idiosyncrasies and not let those idiosyncrasies reflect badly on you.

  23. Kate*

    I’ve been in the situation where I and a few others were left to do the actual work, while the new manager and a carefully chosen group had the afternoon off (pizza and bowling) as a ‘team building’ exercise. It is a serious, serious mistake. I don’t care if she’s the Pope, what she is atttempting is WRONG and a wiser person would stay clear.

  24. Henning Makholm*

    Um.. if I understand things correctly, the gross budget for this wonderful morale-boosting extravaganza of a party is $700 for 40+ guests? That sounds like something that will well and truly make the invitees feel especially valued. Why, I would feel like royalty if my employer presented me with the princely gift of a $5 t-shirt with its logo on. Wouldn’t you?

    And it’s a potluck too — nice. But she seems to have forgotten to make attendance mandatory. Could you perhaps gently remind me that there are certain protocols one has to follow?

    (It could have been worse, though. When I saw the headline in the RSS reader, I thought the ex-employee wanted political contributions).

    1. Blinx*

      I think that’s the real kicker, that it’s potluck. “I’m throwing you this wonderful party. Can I put you down for potato salald?”

      1. Andrea*

        It’s not enough that this party is a bad idea and that it was designed to create drama. It’s not enough that the shirt idea is beyond inappropriate and immature. It’s not even that the CEO is going to be asked to contribute financially to a party thrown by an ex-employee. No, what really crosses the line is the tacky factor–a POTLUCK? Um, no. Host the party or don’t. Potlucks are for family get-togethers, backyard weddings circa 1970*, church dinners, and wakes. If the host doesn’t provide food, what exactly is she spending money on?

        (*I’m flexible on the date here, so nobody post and tell me about your great potluck wedding dinner from 1982, okay?)

        1. Jamie*

          Miss Manners always says that you should entertain in the manner you can afford. Whether that’s a gala bash or a simple tea party. But don’t make your guests self-fund their own hospitality.

        2. KLH*

          I completely agree. Potlucks are terrible, and rude, and tacky. Especially for large groups!

          And a work potluck? Worst of the worst.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I disagree; I’ve had two workplaces where potlucks were the norm, and we all loved them. But the kicker was, everyone in the company was invited to participate, including the workplace with two buildings, and everyone in the company was on board with them. Neither is true in this particular situation.

        3. MartiniGirl*

          Agreed. Potlucks can be fun for casual get-togethers. However, the theme of the party is “potluck,” not “let’s celebrate YOU! And by the way, please fund it.”

  25. Gretchen Weiners (OP)*

    But seriously, I cannot figure this out…..there’s like SO many other people going….why has nobody else said “ummm no don’t do that! open it up to all staff.” I’M NOT THAT SPECIAL!!!

    1. fposte*

      It sounds like you have and she hasn’t listened–could be other people have said the same thing with the same result.

      1. Gretchen Weiners (OP)*

        That may be so…..I guess I will never know because I’m not on the “planning committee.” *smirk

    2. Ellen M.*

      Maybe the other people don’t know all the crazy details, and think this is a just a party she is trowing and they got invited(?)

      Or could it be that this story is starting to smell… fishy…

    3. Anonymous*

      I think it’s because your company is dysfunctional and full of people that lack good judgement. I’m sorry to say it but that’s my impression reading your posts. A former employee having this INSANE idea of a party and apparently this employee was very well liked? A current employee (you, the OP) not seeing how her exclusion of certain coworkers and asking for company fund is incredibly mean-spirited? Other coworkers actually helping out with this party and on board with/promoting the idea of excluding others?

      I’m sorry, “dysfunctional” is the nicest word I can think of to describe this bunch.

  26. Sandrine*

    I have friends I really, really love.

    Like you love your friend, OP.

    However, if they pulled something like this, I would adamantly REFUSE to go unless everyone was invited. This is way too much.

    Yes, there might be others you like there, but if this goes on, your own reputation might get damaged anyway because the others that “are not liked” will see it clearly… and given the economy, no matter what that is not the kind of bridge I’d like to burn.

    I am, however, willing to talk strongly to a friend doing something like what you described.

    1. Jamie*

      “Yes, there might be others you like there, but if this goes on, your own reputation might get damaged anyway”

      Exactly – and she doesn’t have to deal with any fall out from bad workplace relations because she doesn’t work there.

      That would be like Sandrine coming to my work and causing all kinds of trouble (parties and t-shirts) and then whisking back to her office leaving me to deal with the fall out. That would be quite rude!

            1. Jamie*

              If you ever get to Chicago I would love to show you around – as long as you promise to not to mock my abysmal attempts at French. Seriously, if you’re ever in the area contact me through Linkedin.

              And to stay on topic, am I the only one who hopes former co-worker isn’t teaching young kids? Maybe I’m an idealist, but I like to think of teachers as being more fair and decent than average folks. I just hope her ‘soul searching to figure out why no one likes you’ think is saved for adults and not bled onto kids, where it can do serious damage.

              1. Andrea*

                Unfortunately, I have seen this kind of crap with K-12 teachers. I hope it isn’t common and that my experience is atypical. But I have known a few who seemed to thrive on this kind of drama (luckily, I never had any teachers like that, but I know some personally who say unkind things about students’ appearance and who seem to live for gossip).

  27. Anonymous*

    So the OP insisting that her friend is very “giving” for wanting to put on this potluck with someone else’s money has gotten some song lyrics stuck in my head.

    I keep hearing Camelot’s Seven Deadly Virtues.
    “If charity means giving, I give it to you”

  28. Confused*

    My first thought was of The Office. Kelly had a party (invited everyone!) and handed out mugs to everyone who attended with their faces on it. Jim and Dwight didn’t get mugs bc they didn’t go. They still felt bad.
    I don’t think it matters who she invites. IF it’s a PRIVATE party. Having people over to relax bc they have stressful jobs? Go for it. Don’t invite ppl you don’t like? Sure. I even think it’s fine to print shirts with the date of the party or whatever.
    The lapse in judgement comes from connecting the party to the company, any company. Company money? Company name/logo? Company employees. All of them (which, btw, does not include the OP’s friend/party planner).

  29. Gretchen Weiners (OP)*

    I think people can very easily judge from where they stand. Only a few people seemed to be humble enough to emphasize that this person is a friend whom I care about, and that friendship isn’t something that is thrown under a bus willy nilly…..just because someone does something you dislike.

    I think people (yourself included) somtimes assume that a person’s mindset will change in .2555 seconds because you’ve delivered your opinion on the matter.

    A person has to chew on something like this.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      But there are some things that many people don’t need to chew on, like participating in a cruel event thrown by a person who you write is “either unwilling or unable to sympatheize with people whose (legitimate) feelings are not convenient to her.” I would actually hope that wouldn’t require a ton of thought.

      1. fposte*

        Not sure if this will nest, but I actually take the OP’s point about the turnaround not being immediate split-second. It’s simpler for us because it’s in a vacuum–we don’t have to resolve any cognitive dissonance about what kind of person we thought she was, and do so with the positive stuff fresh, and obvious, and sustained. I also think that in her position I’d probably be doing that privately rather than on a messageboard anyway.

    2. Rana*

      I understand. I think I had trouble being sympathetic to you because I was honestly confused by your relationship to this person. You describe her in warm, glowing terms as a kind, wonderful person, who is giving and loving…

      And then you describe her actions, which are those of a person who is selfish (or at least self-centered), vindictive, drama-seeking, and unconcerned with the feelings of people she doesn’t consider friends.

      So there’s a big gap between how you perceive her, and how she behaves, and it puzzles me that you hadn’t noticed this before. (Especially since you say you’ve only known her for 8 months; I could understand this more easily if she were a friend from childhood, for example.)

      So either this is a one-time thing, in which case you do need to sit down with her and figure out why *she* thought this was a good idea, or it’s simply that she’s always been this way, only it’s now big enough for you to see the problems.

      Personally, I’d have trouble being friends with a person like the one you’ve been describing, so there must be something about her that either we’re not seeing, or you’re not seeing.

    3. Anonymous*

      Then tell her that although you love her as a friend, you would rather not participate because of the exclusion and pettiness that she’s planning. If she was a true friend, she would understand.

      Stop making excuses.

    4. Anonymous*

      But you have only known her for 8 months. She may be a friend, but sociopaths can hide their crazy for a long time. Be cautious.

    5. Kelly O*

      A friend of eight months. We’re not even talking someone you have gone through all four seasons with here. No offense. I sometimes happen upon a proverbial kindred spirit, but that’s few and far between.

      I’ve also learned to be especially mindful of those with *ahem* great generosity. It has been my experience that many people consider their generosity in exchange for something else (silence, approval, whatever) so until I have a chance to observe more behavior, I keep them at arm’s length. Perhaps that’s overly cynical, but its my chosen method.

      It may be part of being a bit overly analytical, but I like having sufficient data to make a good decision – whether that is sales data or observing another person’s actions. Eight months barely gets you through a school year (and if she left during that time, you’re not seeing her every day either, which adds another layer of question to the things you observe.)

      It’s not about being “humble enough” to acknowledge it. It’s about being realistic enough to remember we’re talking about flawed human beings on all sides, who tend to see things from their own perspective. It’s about providing you another perspective (which is actually fairly consistent across comments, which is also unusual and another potential red flag).

    6. Elizabeth West*

      You don’t have to throw the “friend” under the bus. But you’re risking throwing yourself there, professionally speaking, if you endorse or participate in this psychopathic mockery of an event.

    7. Anon...*

      “Only a few people seemed to be humble enough…”

      what is wrong with you????

      how many people have to tell you, in dozens of ways , that this is wrong?

      1. Anon...*

        this totally nested in the wrong place and was in response to this:

        “Gretchen Weiners (OP) August 6, 2012 at 5:25 pm
        I think people can very easily judge from where they stand. Only a few people seemed to be humble enough to emphasize that this person is a friend whom I care about, and that friendship isn’t something that is thrown under a bus willy nilly…..just because someone does something you dislike.

        I think people (yourself included) somtimes assume that a person’s mindset will change in .2555 seconds because you’ve delivered your opinion on the matter.

        A person has to chew on something like this.

  30. Vanessa*

    This party idea is a hot mess, I don’t even know where to start!

    The party thrower is showing either exceedingly poor and socially inept judgment or is trying to deliberately undermine morale at this organization. Either way: run.

    OP, you could be doing your professional reputation damage by attending this party and collaborating with the party-thrower during the planning process. Excluded co-workers will remember this event, no doubt. Moreover, if they are management they might at some point need to serve as a reference for you. I doubt you want them to associate you with this sort of unprofessional drama.

  31. Gretchen Weiners (OP)*

    I should have placed quote marks around that. I quoted it from another user and said it was a possibility that I hoped she would prove wrong.

    And I think you’re missing my greater point of needing to chew on the fact that the event is CRUEL in its entirety. I didn’t write in because that’s what I thought. I thought it was inconsiderate that she’d advertise it….not that she’d throw a secret party for an exclusive group. Seeing outside perspective that takes time to digest.I haven’t dismissed anyone’s point. In fact I’ve acknowledged several points and stated that it’s given me something to continue thinking about.

    I’d like to assume that you aren’t intentionally trying to be rude with that last sentence. I don’t think its helpful to imply that I’m slow or stupid because I want to arrive at a conclusion about this on my own timeline and in my own heart…..not just because 100 other people say so.

    1. Jamie*

      “I thought it was inconsiderate that she’d advertise it….not that she’d throw a secret party for an exclusive group.”

      After all these posts, the quote above seems to indicate that you still don’t see what people find unconscionable about this.

      It isn’t about a secret party (although it does conjure images of everyone dressed like Secret Squirrel, so thanks). There is nothing untoward with people having private parties and only inviting those whom they want to get together with socially.

      It’s conflating that with a work party, wanting it subsidized, and the ridiculous shirts. But if you continue to think people just have a problem with not everyone being invited socially you’ll never be able to evaluate the feedback properly. Because that isn’t what people are saying.

      It’s work or it’s social.
      – If it’s social do what you like with whom you like and leave work out of it.
      – If it’s work respect everyone on the team – not just those who would make the cut to share your cabin at cheer camp.

      It can’t be both.

      1. Jamie*

        * “those whom they want to get together with socially.” should be those with whom they want to get together socially.

        Sorry for the extra post – but that one would have killed me to leave it alone.

      2. Rana*

        Jamie: “It’s work or it’s social.”

        Precisely. The OP’s friend can either throw a company party (at a company she doesn’t work for, no less) or she can throw a party for her friends. She can’t do both.

        Using the party to punish the people at her former workplace she doesn’t like is just cruelty icing on top of a whackadoo cake.

    2. Henning Makholm*

      For what it’s worth, it sounds to me like your gut feeling is that she’s behaving horribly, but you’re so committed to being a Nice Person And Loyal Friend that you just cannot bring yourself to say something like that about someone you know without immediately backpedaling and pointing out yourself that she’s probably a wonderful person in 1000 other ways. Then you come here essentially for validation of your gut feeling, and get that in spades — but then find that the subjective evaluation of 100 other people doesn’t really relieve your unease about being “judgemental” towards her the way one might have hoped.

      It would be nice if someone could have cited an authoritative source declaring beyond argument that It Is Allowed For Good People To Desert Their Friends Under The Following Objectively Defined Circumstances, right? Unfortunately all we can really offer is subjective evaluations.

      (This Armchair Diagnosis[tm] is based solely on information disclosed in the blog post and attached comment thread. It is provided for entertainment or educational purposes only and does not constitute medical, legal, or spiritual advice. Do not base serious life decisions on an Armchair Diagnosis[tm] without first validating it with an appropriate professional. No express or implied warranties given. Offer may be void unless prohibited by law. Special conditions apply in Ontario and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. DO NOT SHAKE.)

      1. Jamie*

        Second post by Henning today which had me laughing loud enough for someone to stick their head in my office to ask what was funny.

        And if you ever publish a book entitled, “It Is Allowed For Good People To Desert Their Friends Under The Following Objectively Defined Circumstances” as the mother of teenagers I will buy a copy immediately!

  32. Ask a Manager* Post author

    FYI: Something is going on with the comments suddenly, where they’re not nesting correctly / showing up under what they’re in response to. I’m trying to figure it out.

    1. Jamie*

      In the meantime we could make sure we quote the portion to which we’re responding, which would make it a little easier to follow until it’s corrected.

      1. Rana*

        Or not. The ones above this are nesting now, but it looks like the ones below aren’t. WordPress funkiness!

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Weirdly, new comments that are posted NOT in reply to an existing comment are not going to the end of the thread. My theory is that the craziness of this post has broken the tolerance of my software, and it is rebelling.

  33. Anonymous*

    At what kind of school do people have time for a big party just as the school year is beginning? I work at a school (a university, yes that is different, I know) and we are SO BUSY at the start of a new school year…

  34. Gretchen Weiners (OP)*

    I’m done for now and will give an update around September 1 for those that are interested to see what I decide and what ultimately happens. Thanks everyone for the food for thought!

    1. danr*

      “I’m done for now and will give an update around September 1”..
      And an update around Dec…

  35. Ask a Manager* Post author

    I’m not sure what happened with the comments on this post — they’re out of order and not nesting correctly. This is the only post that appears to be having this problem — my apologies for it.

  36. bemo12*

    I’ve come across similar attitudes before, obviously not to this extreme, but I would recommend getting away from this person immediately.

    She is purposely excluding people, yet making sure they know that everyone was having a FABULOUS time without them.

    Wait until you and her have a falling out, what kind of crap is she going to pull then?

  37. Data Monkey*

    I just have to know other than this sorta strange party situation– does the school function well and does everyone work together professionally? I just find it weird that this situation doesn’t speak to a larger issue that is going on here. It just seems like an awful lot of trouble to exclude 4 people.

    Even if there are no t-shirts and the CEO doesn’t give your friend money– I would still feel really terrible if everyone in my workplace was invited to this party, but not me and three other people. I imagine that they are going to find out because I am sure people are going to talk about it at work -or- show pictures -or- what not. I don’t think I could ever dislike someone enough to do that to them.

  38. Anonymous*

    Something tells me that Gretchen Weiners (OP) is, in fact, the woman in question in this e-mail, but is pretending to be a friend of hers and just wants validation to be a petty jerk.

    I mean, I could be wrong, but my gut is almost never wrong when I smell BS.

  39. Another Anonymous*

    I agree with the posters who expressed concern that this behavior is occurring in a school. OP, suppose the students notice the drama and tell their parents? I can see parents going to the media, school board, and using other resources to ensure that their children are not exposed to such childish behavior by adults. I know that I would be quite concerned if my children were being taught by people who are creating such a negative situation that is likely to have long-term, negative affects. It’s also teaching the students terrible lessons about inter-personal relationships. I see this party as a form of bullying. Bullying has become such a problem in schools – why be a part of something that seems to encourage it? (That means – why go to the party…even if you’re not on the planning committee)? Your attendance does make a statement.

    There’s something else to consider. Even if you think that having this party is not a horrible idea, can you at least consider the reaction of some of the posters here? This situation really does not impact our daily work environments, and we have some very strong opinions about it. Don’t you think that the reaction of your co-workers (those who were not invited to the party and those who were) would be at least as strong (if not stronger)? Including the managers? And, as someone mentioned, your friend is no longer working there. She will not have to deal with the tension that will likely engulf your work environment after the party. You will, however. A true friend would not put you in a position where you have to deal with that type of environment. She may be laughing to herself about her ability to encourage you and your co-workers to create drama you have to deal with (but she won’t…since she’s no longer working there). She’ll have here entertainment, however, when you and your co-workers continue to tell her about the negative environment that the party will cause. (And that the casual Friday t-shirts will cause if you get them). When she’s tired of hearing about the drama, she can just stop talking to you about it – until she’s ready to hear more gossip later. I do hope you can talk her out of doing this – or at the very least, that the CEO does not fund it or support it in any way.

  40. KT*

    On a side note, what is costing her $700? She’s having the party at her house and it’s a potluck!

  41. Rosie*

    The OP’s friend put in $500 and hopes the CEO puts in $200? That sounds like chunk change for a CEO. I bet anything it goes through. If a CEO loves an employee that much, and obviously the OP’s friend is footing most of the bill, it will go through and the CEO will put in the rest. I can’t wait for an update.

  42. Vicki*

    “Your former coworker has lost her mind.”

    This is one of the reasons why I love Love LOVE reading AAM. :-)

    Allison is always honest and forthright. And fun to read. And to the point.

  43. Chocolate Teapot*

    Just read all the comments on this post.


    I can understand throwing a party to which you invite some former colleagues as part of a wider guest list, but the getting the CEO to contribute for naff T-shirts bit is very odd, especially if it’s a company for which you no longer work. Come to think of it, I still have a couple of polo shirts from my old company languishing at the back of a drawer…

    1. Elizabeth West*

      I had six button-down shirts from my old company, which I will never need again (they have an old logo on them also). I THREW THEM AWAY.

      Yes, I was mad about my position being cut!

  44. Jennifer*

    Made one of the first comments, but just had to come back after reading the whole thread…

    Quoting the OP:
    “If a person went to the CEO and said they felt “left out” would they be childish (as people said in your earlier post about 7-10 coworkers getting together and talking about their fun in front of people they didn’t hang out with) or no?
    And at what point does it become “childish” to feel hurt/left out about coworkers and others building relationships together without you?”

    So really, this WHOLE thing was an excuse for AAM to make you/your friend feel better about this by telling you that any negative reaction is just childish behavior on the part of the left out employees? Ugh, speaking of childish…

  45. Kit M.*

    This thread was a really interesting read. Nobody disagrees that the details of the party are a terrible idea, and it basically turned into everyone trying to get the OP to admit that her friend, who they’ve never met, is an awful person, and then questioning the OP’s sincerity and maturity when she won’t say as much. Not disagreeing — but it does seem rather surreal.

  46. Kate*

    The more I read the comments, the more I wish I could sit back with a bottle of Johnnie Black, a bucket of ice and watch the Titanic sink.
    I am basically evil.

  47. David Gaspin*

    Worst. Idea. Ever. For so, so many reasons. Most of them have been pointed out here (and I’ll admit that I haven’t read every comment – this is quite a popular post!). But there’s one thing that just keeps repeating over and over in my mind: She doesn’t work there.

    So it’s not a company party.

    Another thing to think about is that if the CEO is paying and there will be company t-shirts, it’s a company event. Never mind the excluded folks – that’s already been covered. A very real concern is that there will be company liability at this party. What if someone gets too drunk? What if someone gets groped? What if someone (God forbid) gets in a car accident on the way there or the way home? What if all the excluded people are members of various classes protected by law and decide that they’re being discriminated against?

    That’s all on the company. The money and the t-shirts make it their party, and I’m pretty sure that any court would agree if it came down to it.

    1. David Gaspin*

      I realized that I just totally contradicted myself. The point of my first thought is that it SHOULDN’T be a company party since she isn’t an employee. If it’s company paid and there’s company swag, it most certainly is one.

  48. Mishsmom*

    i have to agree with one of the Anonymouses previously. i get the feeling that the OP is the party thrower and got the same reactions from her friends and still thinks she’s in the right. OP, if one person says you have a tail, ignore them. if 100 people say it, you might want to turn around a take a look. you say you read and understood the posts, but you turn around and say “…and that friendship isn’t something that is thrown under a bus willy nilly…..just because someone does something you dislike.” – sure, friendship is not something you throw away – but what kind of friend is this?

    so if i’m friends with someone who kicks puppies but is very nice to me that makes it ok? uh, no.

    1. Jamie*

      “if one person says you have a tail, ignore them. if 100 people say it, you might want to turn around a take a look. ”

      What an awesome, awesome phrase. I love that!

  49. some1*

    Sorry, I think this is a classic troll letter. Schools don’t have CEOs, or Casual Fridays for teachers, and I’ve never heard a school be called a company. Also, I’d find it hard to believe you wouldn’t be able to narrow down your work-BFF’s age more than “between 30 and 40”, and I’m wondering how you’ve known her 8 months if she left the company/school “last year”.

    Besides the above details that don’t add up, the fact that the OP continued to post & argue her point to death, but didn’t clear up why she switched from calling this a company with a CEO to a school. She also is promising updates, and created an extremely far-fetched scenario as the letter, these are all classic signs of an internet troll.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It’s possible, but she’s also a commenter who has left reasonable comments on other posts throughout the last few months. (That’s based on the IP address that’s submitted with every comment here.)

      I think it’s more likely that she’s being genuine here.

      1. some1*

        It could be, but I’ve belonged to internet forums where trolls didn’t always have their troll turned on when posting, as well, and posted things that seemed real or posted normal responses to other people’s OPs.

        Also, with other internet trolls I have come across, the fake post is always something that is going to rile people up. All of us have been excluded from a party or event before at some point in our lives (as many of the responders have mentioned), so this letter strikes our sense of injustice and unfairness.

        1. Jamie*

          I can absolutely see why some believe there is a whiff of troll in the air…it has all the earmarks.

          However, I have had similarly disjointed conversations in real life, with actual corporeal people sitting across a table from me. Let’s just say I know people that in all sincerity would sound similar if they wrote in.

          Besides – worst case scenario is that the whole thing was fiction. It brought out universal agreement, which is nice, and left a legacy in the archives for anyone who thinks being a mean girl is good idea professionally.

          Just me or is anyone else curious as to what ridiculously kitschy phrase she was going to have printed to hype the party?

    2. Rana*

      It could be a private charter school. Some of them do indeed pride themselves on being “like a business” (to the point, sometimes, of requiring their *students* to dress as if for the office).

      1. Rana*

        Or, as I think of it, it could be a vocational school. I worked for one that functioned more or less like a business with faculty on the side. If you weren’t one of the teachers, it felt very much like a typical office setting, especially since the administrative staff outnumbered the teachers.

  50. Cassie*

    If it were me (being the OP) and my friend wanted to organize something like this, I would flat out say “sorry, I can’t attend. I’m not going to take part in something like this”.

    Unless, that is, I was feeling bad or insecure about myself and wanted to feel special about being invited.

    It would be somewhat different if the friend was still working at the company, was a superior or a boss, and planning something like this. I know a few coworkers who attend social events even though they don’t want to, solely because they don’t want to be labeled anti-social, but at least those events are not exclusionary.

  51. Anon*

    I know a public school teacher who has “casual Fridays” at school. When a high-ranking public official came through the school on a Friday, only a few of the teachers dressed up in Monday-Thursday clothes, and the ones who didn’t dress up said it was “their right” to dress casually on Fridays. And the casual teachers complained about the teachers who showed up in more formal outfits instead of jeans and t-shirts.

    I know other teachers whose schools don’t have casual Fridays, but they have “hat day” or “pajama day,” and sometimes the teachers are expected to participate in those themes. I am really glad I went to high school before costumes became a “morale booster.”

  52. Elizabeth West*

    Founding employee or not, SHE IS NO LONGER EMPLOYED THERE. Unless she sits on the board, she has NO say in what goes on at her former company.

    This is a horrible idea. Horrible if the CEO does it, horrible for everyone who would attend and horrible to keep this woman involved in any work activities for a former company. No. Just NO.

  53. Anonymous*

    I loved the post by Henning as well. OP I don’t know if you will read this, but I hope it helps. I and a lot of my friends have been wronged by people. A lot of times the infraction has been so bad that you don’t even tell other people the complete truth about the situation. I am not an angel and I can admit planning to be as what we are classifying as a “mean girl”, but it took my really good friends and family to talk me out of such stupid ideas. My family and friends would not allow me to behave that way because they know that deep down inside I am not that type of person. So to make a long story short. Have a come to Jesus talk with her and figure out what really is going on and tell her that this idea is ridiculous. The best revenge is for someone to see you doing good.

  54. Mander*

    Holy crap. I assume this is an invented situation or a troll, but seriously? What sane employer would pay for a party thrown by a former employee, even if that person was a company founder, and then single out all the current employees that this person doesn’t like by basically having everyone else wear t-shirts that say “we hate you and want to make sure we didn’t invite you to the party”? What gross failure of maturity would ever make anyone think that was a good idea in the workplace?

    The mind boggles.

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