“I will confront you by Wednesday of this week”

Several years ago, a reader shared with us this epic email that was sent by their company’s boss after a holiday party gone terribly awry, and as we enter the holiday season we remember its glory.

“This happened about ten years ago, but the email I received from our boss was so epic I preserved it.

Context: The second year I worked at this company, our holiday party was held on a dinner cruise boat. Our boss footed the bill for dinner and an open bar, and a few other companies also hosted their own parties on the boat at the same time. Since I was underage at the time, I did not drink, and actually left early with my date. Everything was fine when I left. The Monday after, I rolled into the office– the first person there– and was greeted with this email from our boss [identifying details removed]:

‘Good morning to all. I hope all of you had time to recuperate and reflect about the unusual chain of events and circumstances at this year’s Christmas party. Some of you went home early and did not take in the full range of events.

Unfortunately, some of our staff got out of hand, including the spouses. Things were said, and things were done, that quite frankly were very inappropriate. Also, we had people from the adjoining group that decided to take advantage of our open bar and co-mingle with our group.

In regards to the inappropriate behavior, I am not going to go into all of the details, but let it be said that the root cause was probably due to the open bar. Some of our staff decided that the open bar meant that the drinking could be unlimited, not only in how much, but how they drank. As a result, some our staff and spouses decided that shots were OK. Shots were ordered for some who do not even drink. Shots are not OK at a company Christmas party. Other staff and spouses got multiple drinks at once for themselves and for people not even in our group. Others decided it was OK to get openly drunk and beligerent, to the point of making racial slurs. I, myself, am guilty of attacking someone from the other group after he decided to retaliate by groping my wife.

Having thought about the circumstances and the fact that we have to work together as a firm and team, some of you need to apologize for your behavior and/or for the behavior of your spouse. We specifically implemented a no fraternization policy and some of you could get fired on that alone, while other staff exercised no restraint over their spouse for their drunken condition. It is not OK for a spouse to misbehave, just because he or she is not an employee. Many careers have been destroyed, and people get fired, due to the conduct of their spouse. You are expected to exercise constraint over your spouse, or take them home. And if that cannot be done, then you should not bring your spouse.

In regards to the Firm’s policy on drinking, there will be no more open bars. Unfortunately, some of you and your spouses exercise extremely poor judgment. Because of this poor judgment, it puts the Firm at risk. Given the poor road conditions that night, some of you could have ended up dead. It is also unfortunate that a few have to ruin it for the whole group.

I would like to start the apologies by stating I am sorry for not handling the situation that I was confronted with in a different manner. I feel embarrassed, and it was not conduct befitting of the firm’s president. I also felt betrayed by some of you for patronizing the one individual from the adjoining group, who’s behavior was lewd and offensive, not to mention the outright theft by running up our bar tab.

I invite others to make some form of apology, either by email or in person for what they did or said, or what their spouse did or said. You can do this voluntarily, and you know who you are, or I will confront you by Wednesday of this week. I do not intend to ignore what happened. If I have to confront you, you could lose your job. I will be available Monday and Tuesday late afternoon, or you can email me and/or others. Let’s not let this one incidence stop us from being [#1 company in field]. We have a lot going for ourselves and let’s keep it going.’”

{ 216 comments… read them below }

  1. Cassidy*

    I keep imagining “The Office” boat party episode, with shots, Michael disco dancing, beer from a bong – but on steroids.

    Make it stop!

      1. Annon Booze Cruise*

        I an NOT the OP, but our last Holiday Party about a decade ago was on a dinner cruise with open bar…we haven’t had a holiday party since. It wasn’t as dramatic as the letter, but the manager of the dinner service did come over and shut us all off from the bar. It was so much fun *sarcasm* I am pretty sure it ended up in two divorces!

        1. Totally Minnie*

          I think in general, boat parties are a terrible idea. But then, I’m someone who likes to employ the Introvert Exit Strategy of realizing I’ve had enough party now, excusing myself to go use the restroom, and just going home.

    1. Insert Clever Name Here*

      Could also totally have been a Bluth Company party. Truly one of the great letters on this site!

    2. Magenta Sky*

      Script writers get their very best ideas from real life, usually from their own experiences.

    1. Snarkus Aurelius*

      “You know who you are.”

      In all the 40+ years I’ve been alive, including and especially elementary school where I heard this a lot, not a single guilty person has ever recognized themselves and taken the requested action.

      The not guilty know who the guilty are and rightfully ignore the direction. The guilty never think they’re guilty so they also ignore the direction as well.

      Everyone who hears this walks away thinking everyone else will comply and the problem is taken care of, but in reality nothing changes.

      1. LQ*

        Honestly, that’s why I love the I will confront you by Wednesday line. If you don’t know it’s you, you’re going to get confronted and fired.

        1. Amaranth*

          I’m picturing a line outside his office of employees who just want to say “okay, was there anything that bugged you because I had one glass of wine then played Uno in the corner.”

  2. whistle*

    It’s as beautiful as it ever was. Thank you, Alison and OP.

    I love how it seems kinda normal (adults drank too much – not the first time in history) right until “I, myself, am guilty of attacking someone…”

    1. Ali G*

      “…who then retaliated by groping my wife.” I mean, in what drunken world is this a thing!
      One of the best to kick off the best time of year!

      1. Snow*

        Even better — “AFTER he decided to retaliate by groping my wife.” Meaning that the boss did something offensive first; the other guy retaliated by groping his wife; then the boss attacked him. There is a lot to unpack here.

        1. The New Wanderer*

          And that “retaliate” line was just after the boss mentioned that racial slurs were used, so…

          1. Not A Girl Boss*

            An eye for an eye being upgraded to “a wife-grope for a racial slur” actually feels like it belongs in 2020.

            1. Aquawoman*

              Groping someone’s wife for something that person did =sexually assaulting an innocent bystander.

        2. Dasein9*

          Family legend has it my brother once bitterly complained to Mom from the back seat of the car after the side trip for ice cream was canceled, “He hit me back first!”

            1. Mallory Janis Ian*

              Haha that’s what my brothers always said – and I’m like, Darn straight, I did. I had a personal policy of hitting back harder than I was hit. Lol

              1. Tabby*

                My mom would always say, “That should teach you not to hit her, then, shouldn’t it?” Because guaranteed, I was going to HURT my brother for starting with me.

        3. CmdrShepard4ever*

          The boss might not have done something offensive initially. The way I read it was the boss was upset the other group (who this person was a part of) was coming over mingling with the employees from bosses company and trying to use the open bar. I think the boss may have told them to knock it off and go back to their side/deck/bar, and then the other person retaliated by groping his wife, that is when the boss really went off on them and verbally and/or physically attacked them.

          @The New Wanderer While the sentences are next to each other I don’t think they necessarily are meant to convey they happened in that order.

          “Others decided it was OK to get openly drunk and beligerent, to the point of making racial slurs. I, myself, am guilty of attacking someone from the other group after he decided to retaliate by groping my wife.”

          I think the boss is saying other people got so drunk they used racial slurs. But the boss is also admitting that they did not behave in the best way possible, when they were upset about another unrelated group/company coming over to take advantage of the open bar.

          Not saying the boss didn’t use racial slurs. But I can also see a drunk person being upset about being cutoff/told to leave the area and retaliate to that.

          1. Laura*

            That was my understanding. Boss didn’t behave well but after people getting out of control drunk, using racial slurs and groping wife, he lost it. Which doesn’t seem unreasonable

        4. Amaranth*

          I read it as there were racial slurs then there was groping, which made me wonder who was using slurs….maybe the boss?

  3. Tragic Sandwich*

    This reads like the shenanigans at one of the companies I worked for in the past. We never got a message from our president, but we were banned from multiple locations around town, and one year the president was so angry that he refused to hold a company holiday party the following year.

    1. The Original K.*

      There was no company party at a previous employer of mine because it got so out of control in past years. They called it off before I worked there, so I never saw any shenanigans firsthand. I am told it was just a complete drunken free-for-all every year. Rumor has it that people were seen stumbling out of bushes with people who were not their spouses, puking in the corners, etc.. I believe it; even without big parties, the company had a very boozy culture (and I know of one couple there who left their spouses for each other; they are married now).

      1. Lynn*

        Yep, no holiday parties at my current employer for the same reason. “It just used to get way too out of hand.”

    2. Sarah*

      My first professional job was in the headquarters office of a commercial fishing company. Our holiday parties included office staff and all the key crew from the boats (captains, pursers, engineers, etc.) and many of the members of our office leadership were themselves former fishermen. To top it off, the company had been Norwegian-owned for years, so lots of Norwegian/Norwegian-Americans worked in the company still. I mention that all because each of those groups have a generally well-deserved reputation for partying hard and drinking a lot. The parties were always epic, and we also got banned from every venue we touched. Oops.

    1. Crashboom*

      Hello, I am the original commenter!

      There is not too much in the way of an update – I left the company many years ago, so some details are a bit fuzzy. Most people chose to apologize via e-mail to all employees (it was a small company, less than 15 employees). Nobody was fired.

      Details I recall not in the original comment:

      1) The racial slur was spoken by one employee’s spouse, and directed to the boss’s son-in-law, who also worked for the firm;
      2) The person who groped the boss’s wife was actually a gay man (not that that excuses anything), and apparently he and the wife were grinding on the dance floor;
      3) A quick look on the company website shows that aside from the boss, only one person who attended the party still seems to be employed there.

      1. Artemesia*

        Wow — I would have thought the box would fire the worker whose wife used the racial slur towards his son in law —

      2. Diahann Carroll*

        With this context…yeah, I can see why the boss acted the way he did. Totally unprofessional, but I get it.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          Right? All these years of me having known this story, I was imagining a rowdy crowd of at least a hundred!

        2. pope suburban*

          In my experience at a similarly-sized company where there was nearly a fistfight at one Christmas party (The year before I started there, for a given value of “alas”), drama gets concentrated when you can’t get away from the people around you. 15 is right in that sweet spot of enough people to have multiple cliques and alliances, but not big enough that you can avoid someone who’s really getting on your nerves. The designers at my old job actually had a soap opera-inspired flowchart of the shifting alliances in the shop and field employees, for example. We had some really spectacular quittings, and a few moderately-terrifying dismissals, neither of which was helped by the gossip.

      3. Miss Mouse*

        Oh my gosh. First of all, thank you for the additional details! And second, the details make the shenanigans even worse and even funnier to me.

      4. Jane Smith*

        Oh wow this is brilliant! Thanks for the update. I was imagining it was a large number of people, say 100. But less than 15! That makes it even funnier !

  4. Archaeopteryx*

    “Some of our staff decided that the open bar meant that the drinking could be unlimited, not only in how much, but how they drank.”
    – I missed this the first time I read the story; before I got to the part about shots I was thinking, did people splash vodka on their eyeballs or something?

    Anyways, this is just as epic on reread and this is exactly the situation that drink tickets were made for.

  5. AndersonDarling*

    “Shots are not OK at a company Christmas party.”
    I couldn’t imagine going up to the bar at a company event and ordering shots. Well, maybe if I worked at a bar.
    I’m betting that as soon as someone ordered a tray of shots, all the “adults” grabbed their coats.

    1. Jen*

      I worked for a company where alcohol was EVERYWHERE. It was a govt contractor. Beer at work. Happy hours all the time. The holiday parties were worse – like, we drank the bar we were at out of tequila…more than once… from doing so many shots. It is definitely very prevalent in the area I am in. However, most people at that company have since stopped drinking and I don’t believe there is any more liquor at their parties so obviously something got out of hand (even for them).

      1. Nice Try, FBI*

        When I worked in finance, it was like that. I don’t think there was an office in our suite that didn’t have a full bar. I kept wine in mine and, believe me, it came in handy. Those were some of the worst people I’ve ever worked with in my life!

        1. Arya Snark*

          When I worked in finance, it was the same. Our Thanksgiving party (of all things) was usually accompanied by cases of beaujolais provided by the CMO followed by several of us having to hide out in the board room until we were sober enough to get a taxi (paid for by the company) home. Outings were even more outlandish, with many shots consumed by all (“adults” included). It was fun at the time but I look back on it now with dismay and a bit of horror.

      2. refereemn*

        One company I worked at (smaller firm of about 65 or so, but the largest in it’s field) had the booze everywhere. There was keggers in the warehouse, always booze in the break room refrigerator, and every company event involved liquor…

    2. CarCarJabar*

      In my office, it’s always the partners insisting staff do shots with them. I don’t even like shots but I’m guilty of taking one just to get the partners to shut up.

    3. Ama*

      I’ve been around AaM long enough to have read this a few times, but this is the first time that stuck out to me — usually most places that let you choose your alcohol set up will happily put limits on your “open bar,” so they could have very easily told the bartender ahead of time “mixed drinks, wine, and beer, but no shots.” But I suspect the party planner was probably not someone who plans events as part of their day job or assumed people would be smart enough to not ask for shots.

      If there’s one thing I’ve learned from years of running work events with alcohol it is that it is far easier to just not give any ordering options that might cause trouble than assume people will be smart enough to police themselves.

      1. blink14*

        I had the same thought – wine and beer open bars are very common, or you can limit the free selection to a certain selection or level of hard alcohol. There are a couple of open bar events I attend at work in a normal year – mostly holiday related – and while I never drink at a work function anyway, it’s always wine, beer, and sometimes champagne.

        Years ago at a relative’s wedding, there was an open bar at the rehearsal dinner, and the venue made a major error in not serving any food until like 2 hours into the event. This resulted in one of the most drunken parties I had ever been to, with some people absolutely taking advantage, but others drinking a normal amount for them on a totally empty stomach. The party started around 6, and there was no food, not even bar snacks, until close to 8 pm. Hours after most people had eaten lunch and had come expecting at least appetizers during the cocktail hour.

        On the flip, at another relative’s wedding, the open bar consisted of a pre-selected menu of wine and beer options. You could also buy mixed drinks, but people only bought one or two, if at all, and stuck to the free options.

      2. Ally McBeal*

        Yeah, you’re probably right that the party planner wasn’t a professional event planner. Rookie mistake.

        I remember going to a wedding where the couple had banned shots… until the last hour of the party, when they surprise-ordered them for everyone who had stuck around until the end. And since they’d bought all the alcohol directly (rather than purchasing it through the venue), several of us ended up going home with half-full or nearly-full bottles as wedding favors. That was a fun wedding.

        1. Evan Þ.*

          A couple I know who got married last year (and only drink occasionally) were still going through the leftover bottles from their wedding six months later. I hear both spouses’ brothers were too.

      3. Bostonian*

        Right. Or if there are no restrictions, what’s to stop someone from ordering a $200 glass of scotch?

      4. Sunflower*

        I’ll also guess that while it was open bar for attendees, the company may have been paying on consumption (it’s almost always cheaper to pay on consumption as many don’t drink and will offset the heavy drinkers) so that bill could be why the boss was upset as well. Purchasing open bar packages can often restrict shots because it’s so much easier to drink them faster so I’m willing to bet that was a factor.

        Seems clear the boss learned his lesson!

    4. Firecat*

      Eh. It’s ok at some parties. Shots don’t instantlyeam drunk. There were lots of glow in the dark rainbow shots for our office pride party. People were fine. There were no fights, groping, etc.

      1. Lanaaaaaaaa*

        I’m gonna go out on a limb that glow-in-the-dark party type shots that contain mixers and are like 20% alcohol at most aren’t what happened in this case.

    5. iglwif*

      This part was so baffling to me! On the one hand, maybe I’m just not good at drinking culture, but I don’t really understand why an ounce of vodka in a shot glass, for instance, would be so much worse than an ounce of vodka mixed with soda or orange juice (I mean, other than tasting much worse lol)–that everyone should automatically know it was not OK to order? And on the other hand, if the boss considered certain types of drinks inappropriate for the occasion, why not tell the bar staff what it was and wasn’t OK to serve?

      Most work events with alcohol I’ve been to have involved drink tickets rather than an open bar, but even so, there was always a list (written or unwritten) of what you could and couldn’t pay for with those tickets. I even once planned a party where we had a very limited budget so the restaurant said they’d pour 4 oz of wine per glass instead of 6 oz! Catering and bar staff are SUPER used to doing this kind of thing.

      1. Anon53*

        Shots you take all at once, while a mixed drink you can nurse for a while, which does make a difference in how hard the alcohol hits you. Plus, once shots come out, it’s not like you stop drinking your drink, you just add shots on top of everything. So instead of 1 drink/hr, it 1 drink+1(or 2or)/ hr Basically, shots are shorthand for “we are going hard tonight baby! bring out the lampshades!”

      2. T. Boone Pickens*

        Shots are by nature, a much faster way for for people to get drunk. In your vodka and soda/orange juice scenario, typically someone will consume that drink over a 15-60 minute timeframe (sometimes longer) giving the person a longer timeframe to absorb the alcohol plus the ice in the drink will dilute things a little bit. With shots, you’re getting the whole 1-2oz of alcohol in one fell swoop.

      3. boo bot*

        Long answer: The reason that shots are different is that people don’t usually sip them like they would a mixed drink, they drink the whole thing at once. A group of people ordering shots will get drunk much faster than if they could only order stuff they had to drink more slowly.

        Additionally, something I’ve seen a lot is that people kind of don’t “count” shots? Like they would usually have three glasses of wine, and someone buys them two shots, and instead of cutting back to one glass of wine for the same total of three drinks, they just end up having five drinks. So people don’t just drink faster, they drink more.

        That aside, it’s not really fair for the company to have assumed that everybody would just magically know that they shouldn’t order shots. As other people have mentioned, they could just have told the bartenders not to serve shots.

      4. Random Librarian*

        For me, a mixed drink at least has the pretense of “I am drinking this delicious beverage because I enjoy the taste” whereas shots tend to be more of a “get drunk as quickly/efficiently as possible” type of thing. Obviously there are exceptions to the rule (I have personally had many shots that taste better than your bog standard mixed drink), but the optics of shots are not appropriate for most work contexts.

      5. PeanutButter*

        I am also a bit baffled – I don’t drink anymore because of medication interactions, but I enjoy drinking neat scotch. How is my larger volume of liquor more acceptable than a shot? (Even when I was able to drink I hated being drunk and was generally a lightweight so I’d nurse that whiskey for awhile, but I did the same with shots…)

        1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          Whiskey is kind of unusual in that it’s a hard liquor that one can sip and appreciate when drunk straight. (I do this too, particularly in a situation where I’m not familiar with the venue so I have no idea how strong the mixed drinks are – I can tell how much whiskey I am drinking if I drink it neat much more easily than I can tell how much alcohol is in a pint glass of sugary “mixed drink” and can limit my consumption accordingly. I generally also order a plain soda water to go with it.)

          Many typical “shots” are intended to be swallowed quickly rather than sipped on like wine or whiskey, and the lower fluid volume compared to a mixed drink makes getting a bunch of alcohol in your system quickly an achievable goal. Volume-wise, I can probably drink about 16-32 oz within an hour, so if my goal it to get as drunk as possible 4oz shots of hard liquor are clearly the way to go. (My goals generally don’t include this, so I make different choices, but…)

          1. PeanutButter*

            > I generally also order a plain soda water to go with it.

            Ha ha, same here. It was a running joke that “PB is double-fisting her drinks again” in my friend group because I always had a cup of water in my other hand, and only very, very rarely even got buzzed.

    6. eshrai*

      I work for the government, where normal office rules seem to not apply, and yes, they order shots at the party. Of course, its not open bar, we pay for all our own food and drinks, but the IT guys in particular like to bring on the shots. I usually don’t drink, or if I do, I have one mixed drink and call it a night. This is my first office job, and I have to say, this blog has made me realize how bizarre government can be.

      1. anne of mean gables*

        I am honestly baffled. I too work for the government, and our holiday party is lunchtime takeout from two local places (because our office cannot agree on one type of food) that we pay for ourselves, and a very, very, tame White Elephant. I have never seen one of my coworkers drunk.

        1. Emi*

          Yeah this would never, ever fly at my government office. I’m very at everyone’s drinking stories.

      2. Black Horse Dancing*

        Wow. We’ve had a holiday party for our government office but we have to pay for everything. So while drinking may happen, it’s nothing dreadful. Normal is a holiday potluck during work hours and no booze at all.

        1. Berkeleyfarm*

          Yeah, when I worked for a local government that was our holiday party. Our potluck was pretty epic but there was zero alcohol.

          We had to support our own coffeemakers/bottled water/microwaves/fridges so our parties were definitely DIY. People who drank coffee/water were asked to pitch in for costs and there were a couple of annual bake sales (including the Filipina ladies who made lumpia for your freezer) to cover the equipment and the ice cream social.

    7. Not A Girl Boss*

      At my first job out of college shots were absolutely the norm at corporate events because they were the best way to show that you were a ‘tough guy’ who could out drink everyone else. Aka, a more experienced alcoholic.

      Of course this was also the kind of company where the interns regularly danced on tables in front of management so…. maybe not the best place to take cultural norms from. But the parties were fun and the company had a “no questions asked” policy about paying for taxis anytime to anywhere AND to have AAA tow your car home.

    8. The Original K.*

      I’ve seen shots done at company parties, including by my then-boss. (Just one.) An ex is an ad exec and would mention doing a shot or two at work events. I wouldn’t – I’m a two-drink-maximum person when it comes to work events, but I’ve seen it.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        I’ve done shots at a work event before, but it was at an event where we had drink tickets (two per person), so no one got really plastered.

    9. Delta Delta*

      I worked at a law firm where shots were okay. The boss was often the instigator of shots. Once we were all at a training and afterward he ordered these horrible things. They were…. somehow milky and pepperminty all at once (and this was in July so not even seasonally-appropriate). I took a smell and dumped it in a potted plant. Blech.

      On the other hand, I was seated at “the fun table” at my adult cousin’s wedding and was the instigator. But somehow that seemed okay since I wasn’t, you know, at work (also I just got crown royal; no weirdo summer peppermint stuff)

    10. Artemesia*

      But the dang thing was on a boat — how did anyone ‘go home early’ — one of the things I hated about boat parties was, once we sailed we were in for it for the evening unless we wanted to swim back.

      1. Indigo a la mode*

        What a fascinating and vague way to put that. It makes me wonder what the adjacency is: Are you in the hot cocoa industry (beverages)? The nail polish remover industry (alcohol)? The strip club industry? College admissions? Meth lab?

        1. Marillenbaum*

          You joke, but I worked in college admissions for several years, and those folks go HARD. My boss, the assistant dean, was a former Kappa Alpha and would legit do shots with us and his spouse (the Dean of Students). I went to a work conference that involved so much alcohol that I saw a colleague from a different school getting a hand job in the back of the bus that was returning us to the conference venue. It was a time.

    11. Ad Girl*

      I work in advertising. So many shots. I’m not normally a big drinker outside of work events, where it’s basically mandatory. So my trick is to do the shot… and then immediately call an Uber and Irish exit outta there. I’ve never been called out on it, so I assume nobody remembers too much of what happens after the shots.

      1. Media Monkey*

        i am always amazing at how little drinking there seems to be in other industries. i think in the UK there is probably more drinking than in the US, and in advertising there is more drinking than in other industries! so in UK advertising….

  6. I Coulda Been a Lawyer*

    This took me down a lunch break rabbit hole imagining how various bosses throughout my career would have written this letter. I’m pretty sure that one or two of them would’ve just thrown the offenders overboard :D

    1. Jen*

      Yeah I don’t know any boss who would have taken the blame for it or even mentioned that they did anything wrong, so in a weird sense kudos to them.

      1. hbc*

        Eh, I give him a tiny bit of credit, but each of his statements taking responsibility promptly segues into “but look at what someone else did!” It seems like he’s saying “Okay, I fell short of my own high moral standards, but y’all are classless buffoons.”

        I mean, at least put a paragraph break between “I would like to start the apologies” and “I also felt betrayed….”

        1. Chinook*

          It is interesting to see him walk that fine line between taking responsibility for his own actions and needing to hold others responsible for theirs.

          To me, the clearest sign of that is that he openly admits to his errors and responsibility in it all and calls on others to do the same with, presumably, only the repercussion of the stigma of being an idiot at the party. The 2 days is to give people time to admit it (including talking to their spouse before doing so) before coming down hard on those who won’t take responsibility for their own choices.

          I am actually impressed because he admits a problem, gives a solution and allows others to do the same.

    1. Malarkey01*

      Right? I almost can easily see employees getting a little overserved and acting like idiots, but never ever in all my company partners have I seen spouses be a problem. It had to be something if the spouses were “fraternizing” and out of control.

    2. Crashboom*

      Original commenter here – I believe the spouse callout was mainly for the one spouse who hurled a racial slur at the boss’s son-in-law (who was black). And I think another also got excessively drunk.

      1. Hydrangea McDuff*

        Knowing this was a small party makes it all the more interesting he didn’t just name names. Everyone must have known who the offenders were—spouses and employees!!

  7. I Love Llamas*

    Many, many years ago I was responsible for a very large Christmas party that included clients. It was my first time and I learned so much. My boss was on maternity leave, but had set all the logistics up prior to her leave. We had an employee in a rented Santa suit. He was picked up for DUI on the way home…. in the Santa suit. We had a vendor bail him out. We had delivery personnel, underage people all drinking at the open bar. It was quite the party. The next year was fun, but with a lot more controls…. The drunken Santa ….. our corporate HQ never found out…..

    1. Massive Dynamic*

      We need a word that combines horrifying and amazing because that’s what this is right here.

    2. WS*

      Oh yes, I remember an office party with underage drinking – and the drinking age in my country is 18! What nobody expected was the considerable cohort of non-drinkers (including myself) – we casually put our tickets down near the bar in case someone else wanted to use them, since the company had paid for them. Big Boss’s 16-year-old son found them, and then half the teenagers who had been grudgingly dragged to the party by their parents (we had notoriously good Santa gifts for all kids) were getting plastered under the stage.

      The next year, the party was a dinner event, wine was served at the table to adults only, and presents were restricted to children 12 and under.

    3. Coffee Bean*

      I am imagining the drunken Santa from your Christmas party as drunk Dan Akroyd dressed as Santa in “Trading Places”.

  8. madge*

    This never stops being funny. I had sent this to my team when you originally ran it, and “I will confront you by Wednesday of this week” is now in our vernacular.

    1. Code Monkey the SQL*

      I would have moved every single thing on my schedule just to be in the office on that fated Wednesday. With popcorn and beverage at my desk, just in case.

    2. Caliente*

      It’s so…”duelish”. I shall confront you by Wednesday this week at sundown on the precipice overlooking loon lake! To end the fisticuffs! It’s kind of elegant after the apparently raunchy shenanigans ROFL

  9. Baw*

    I can hear Bing crooning…

    “I’m dreaming….of a Wednesday confrontation….
    Just like the email had foretold…”

  10. Hannananan*

    I want to know what happened after the letter. Did the person who sent it in find out what shenanigans unfolded? Was it just a few people or a lot? Racial slurs and violence? Wow.

    1. LunaLena*

      I think that’s the beauty of this letter. There’s just enough detail to make it interesting, and just enough lack of detail that you can fill it in with your imagination and it becomes something epic. Sort of like the Noodle Incident in Calvin and Hobbes.

  11. BigHairNoHeart*

    The best thing about this letter is that it goes in so many different directions, but the fact that it ends on this note is spectacular: “Let’s not let this one incidence stop us from being [#1 company in field]. We have a lot going for ourselves and let’s keep it going.”

      1. Quill*

        Perhaps, but I’ve met a few people in college whose hangovers were so debilitating that they were effectively still drunk…

  12. Snow globe*

    I’m left wondering how many people hit reply-all to confess and apologize. Surely no work got done that day.

  13. Diahann Carroll*

    I’m literally in tears from laughing so hard, lol. The title alone took me OUT. My favorite parts:

    I, myself, am guilty of attacking someone from the other group after he decided to retaliate by groping my wife.

    OMG, WTF?! LMAO! I mean, it’s a good thing that he defended his wife, but good lord.

    And then:

    I invite others to make some form of apology, either by email or in person for what they did or said, or what their spouse did or said. You can do this voluntarily, and you know who you are, or I will confront you by Wednesday of this week. I do not intend to ignore what happened.

    TEARS! LMFAO! The bolded part is too much. I’m so mad I missed this party.

    1. Caliente*

      And who retaliates by groping a whole other person?! The insanity! And shenanigans, best word ever lol

      1. Caliente*

        What am I saying, who retaliates by grope at all?? It just isn’t the first thing that comes to mind LMAO It’s very Monty Python or something.

  14. Sleepytime Tea*

    My very first full time job was in a call center, where we had extremely boring Christmas “parties” which basically involved the whole team taking lunch at the same time and being given a free but terrible holiday meal. I was told about how in the past there used to be an actual party, held at a nice hotel in town, with alcohol and all that. Particularly because it was my first real job, I was seriously disappointed that I never got to experience the REAL parties that used to be held, and wanted to know why we couldn’t have them anymore.

    In short, they stopped having them because people got VERY drunk, and far too many hookups were taking place (there was a company policy that you had to notify HR about any relationship, and managers couldn’t date non-management, etc.). I was pretty annoyed that people had to ruin it before I even got there. At a bare minimum, I would have liked to see the train wreck at least once on my own.

    1. Shhhh*

      Yeah, my former employer had the same thing happen – years before I started working there, there was apparently a particularly bad year for senior staff members getting very, very drunk and for inappropriate hookups. By the time I got there, they had rolled it back to mid-afternoon Christmas parties that had decent food. They did still have wine and beer at the parties they had while I was there, but the whole “it’s the middle of the work day and you’re expected to go back to work after this” thing and the absence of hard liquor kept the train from going off the rails. ‘

      Meanwhile and unrelatedly (I swear), I have a hard no drinking at work rule for myself because I’m such a lightweight. I once got slightly tipsier than I wanted to be after having a beer at a vendor’s booth at a conference. Just once I’d like to witness a train wreck of these proportions from the sidelines, though.

  15. k*

    This was in the comments on the original post, but it really adds to the email if you know that based on the OP’s description of the company president, he apparently resembles Frank Reynolds.

    1. Lizzo*

      I had to Google “Frank Reynolds”…

      and now I have dissolved into a fit of giggles. Thank you for that.

  16. Liz*

    This reminds me so much (minus the email after) of a dinner at a former job. I was an admin in a corporate legal dept. We were the HQ, but for some reason the legal HQ was in an office in a neighboring state. Not too far though. My company was going through a merger, and a number of people, myself included, were losing our jobs. We got a very generous severance package, though, and it was decided that the two departments woudl meet in a nearby city for one last dinner.

    My boss, who was the assistent to the VP of the dept, and who we reported to, decided that since it was kind of a PITA to get there, we’d get a car to take us, and bring us back.

    we went, had a nice dinner, and left. Afterwards though, rumor has it that many of the attorneys and VPs, went out and got rip roaring drunk, and shenanigans ensued.

    1. Maxie's Mommy*

      I worked in a west coast legal dept. We got many visiting VP’s and their families who wanted a break from Illinois winters. One VP joined us at our holiday party. When the hosted party ended, some folks decided it needed to continue…..in Tijuana. You don’t go over the border buzzed—that just never ends well–so I went home to feed the cat. When I got to work the next morning I was alone. Had to use my key to let myself in. Apparently the entire Mexico contingent got arrested, the VP’s wife and family were trying to book flights back to the midwest without him. I answered the phone and whoops!!—it was the head office, wanting to know WTF. The senior VP wanted to know why I wasn’t with the rest of them, I said “1, shots BEFORE Tijuana is just never good, and 2, I know who I am. I’m not a prude but I don’t go looking for trouble.” The VP said he was delighted to know one San Diego employee wasn’t an idiot. Some people were laid off for a week without pay, some, like the Chicago visitor, were fired.

  17. AGD*

    Oh good heavens, I laughed so hard I had a hard time catching my breath then my vision went a little strange and I had to take a few deep breaths.

    Who’d have done a better at reading it: Graham Chapman or John Cleese?

  18. samecoin*

    At my old job we used to have the Christmas party at the fancy bowling/alley arcade down town. it was really fun: Open Bar, Unlimited finger foods, bowling, video games it was a blast. Everyone had enough restraint not to go over board but definitely pushed it to the limit. One year my friend “Elsa” saw her boss talking/being flirty with a woman she didn’t recognize. She knew he was married and he had always displayed such high character her that in her buzzed state she went over to him pulled him away from the woman and quietly started lecturing him, how could he do this, “Renee” is such an amazing person how, could you hurt her etc. Boss then clears his throat formerly brings the woman over who he introduces as his wife to Elsa. They had never met before and with the dim lighting and the adult beverages, she didn’t recognize her.

    1. Phony Genius*

      This reminds me of a letter we had a few years ago where someone was accused of having an affair with their own spouse. In that case it was the other way around, with the wife being accused. It is it’s own level of awkward.

      1. Artemesia*

        Reminds me of when Sen Sherrod Brown’s wife Connie Schultz was taken to task as a journalist for being seen socializing with the Senator and how inappropriate it was for her as a journalist to be so close to a news source. She didn’t do what I would have done and just said ‘oh you don’t know the half of it, I am sleeping with him.’

        1. Ryan Howard's White Suit*

          My husband is an Episcopal priest and he’s at a church where he’s expected to wear his collar if he’s working. I love it when he wears it when we do something together in public, but that absolute BEST was when I was pregnant. Both our kids were born in the summer and we live in the south, so by week 34 I would stop wearing my wedding rings. We definitely got some looks when people saw the priest accompanying the hugely pregnant woman and being very solicitous to her.

      2. Environmental Compliance*

        Fun related story:

        My grandma and her BIL (my grandpa’s brother) worked at neighboring factories in their early twenties, both newlyweds. The two wives were good friends, and all four got along very well. They in essence raised their kids as one big group of pretty much siblings. So BIL and Grandma would ride together to work. They lived in the same apartment complex, so it made sense. Grandpa and SIL worked a different shift, so they’d take turns driving to their respective workplaces as well.

        Of course, at each factory, somebody with too much time on their hands decided that they were having An Affair Oh My Word How Scandalous. All four of them found it absolutely hilarious and of course Grandma refused to clarify to anyone, which led to even more hilarity when SIL started working at the same factory, and people worked out that SIL & BIL were together, but friendly with Grandma, and *oh my WORD what is HAPPENING here do they KNOW about each other???*

  19. Littorally*

    It’s the first full line that really gets me. “I hope all of you had time to recuperate and reflect about the unusual chain of events and circumstances at this year’s Christmas party.” There’s something about the unusual chain of events and circumstances that hits that beautiful sweet spot of understatement and implication. You read that and you’re ready for anything to come next, from drunken shenanigans to mass hallucinations to alien abductions.

  20. juliebulie*

    I’m still shaking my head over the part about attacking someone after he retaliated. What? Don’t you have to attack someone BEFORE they can retaliate?

    1. Artemesia*

      I read it as the guy was stealing from their open bar and he told them to head back to his own party and then the guy retaliated for that by groping his wife.

  21. Frank Doyle*

    I know this isn’t the point, but how do you leave a party early when it’s being held on a boat??

    1. Squeeble*

      Boat probably never left the dock. I can imagine how much more epic this party might have been if that were the case!

    2. Crashboom*

      The boat cruised around the river for only an hour, and then docked – so I was free to leave early!

  22. Dandy it is*

    We had a VP of HR fired after a holiday party at one of our plant locations. He apparently got drunk and during one of the shift holiday parties went on a long rant and harassed some of the women. He then had to fly home from CA to IL after having been fired during the trip.

  23. NewHerePleaseBeNice*

    This letter uses the word ‘spouse’ so many times that ‘spouse’ becomes a hilarious word.

  24. RC Rascal*

    This reminds me of an old story worth sharing:

    Back in the 1990s one of my high school friends dropped out of college and went to work as a teller for a family owned bank. At the Christmas party that year there was an open bar. Adults starting getting drunk. Friend was underage and not drinking; she got bored and went home early. It was a wise choice.

    Turned out that after the party closed the owner’s son decided to take the leftover alcohol and remaining revelers back to the bank to party into the wee hours. One woman went to the bathroom, was too drunk to figure out how to use the toilet, and climbed up on the sink in an attempt to pee into it. Being drunk, she fell off the sink, hit her head on the tile floor, and passed out in front of the door, which no one could get open because her body was in front of it (It was the kind of bathroom with only a sink and toilet). Everyone sneaked out of the bank and just left her there.

    Good times.

    1. L in DC*

      I visited a London ad agency as part of a work study (I’m American). I definitely got that vibe. Plus, their office looked like it came straight out of a rom-com. I couldn’t partake because I was pregnant at the time. Probably better off for it.

  25. Phony Genius*

    If I worked at that company and read that letter, it would scare me to the point of apologizing even if I were never at the party. I would just assume any employee who doesn’t apologize will be sent packing, considering that the president was probably too drunk to remember who was even there.

    1. Phony Genius*

      Updating my own comment based on the original writer’s comment above. If there were only 15 people working at the company, then I’m more confident that the president does remember who was there, and who did what. My comment assumed it was a company of 100+ employees.

  26. Becky S*

    This happened 15 years ago at the holiday party of the sedate non-profit I worked for. There wasn’t an open bar, but there was enough alcohol to cause problems. 2 women, one reported to the other, each brought their husbands. Husband of woman #1 who was the manager, made an obvious & clumsy pass at woman #2, the subordinate. Woman #2’s husband didn’t appreciate that at all and invited the manager’s husband outside to settle things. As far as I know, police weren’t called, and there were no injuries, but these women still had to work together. I think they agreed that what happened between their husbands didn’t have to affect their working relationship but wow!.

  27. Crashboom*

    Hello! I am the original commenter who shared this story. It cracks me up seeing it make its way around again every year during the holidays, especially reading the comments.

    People ask for updates or context to the story – here is what I can add:

    1) The racial slur was spoken by one employee’s (white) spouse and directed at the boss’s (black) son-in-law, who was also an employee;
    2) What happened with the “adjoining party” was that one of the employees happened to run into a friend of his, and bought that person drinks on our party’s open bar tab. From what I heard, that friend was a gay man who was grinding with the boss’s wife on the dance floor, and apparently decided to grope her, sparking my boss to physically attack him;
    3) Most of the offenders apologized via e-mail, though I think one (the employee whose wife was vocally racist) slinked into my boss’s office to apologize in private. Nobody was fired.

    I have not worked for that company in over a decade, but a quick look on their website shows only one person who attended the party still works there. I’m still Facebook friends with a handful of them, who all moved on to greener pastures.

    This company could really be ridiculous. The first year I worked there, my then-boss decided to calculate Christmas bonuses via a handheld game of Deal Or No Deal. Meaning that the bonuses were entirely random, with newbies getting more than senior employees. Really just braindead decisionmaking.

    1. Antilles*

      The first year I worked there, my then-boss decided to calculate Christmas bonuses via a handheld game of Deal Or No Deal.
      Wait, what?
      Like an he downloaded an app/video game version of the TV show and gave you your bonus based on how you did? Or did he literally hold out his fists and you picked “left or right hand” and then saw what the number was on the check you picked?

      1. Emi*

        There was a handheld version of the game you could buy, like a Gameboy that was hardwired (and branded) to only play one game. I got one for Christmas when I was like 12 and had never heard of the show. It was very confusing.

      2. Crashboom*

        Like Emi said, it was a handheld device, similar to a GameBoy, to play Deal or No Deal on. He busted it out at the holiday party in his living room and everyone played in front of each other. It was confusing and… very misguided. I think I ended up with a $20 “bonus”.

      3. Quill*

        On the one hand, I find this hilarious, but I’m nowhere near it.

        On the other hand, I am trying to figure out the year this all went down based on my knowledge of cheap handheld versions of tv game shows.

    2. QuinleyThorne*


      “I will confront you by Wednesday of this week” has become something of a bit between my husband and I, and it has brought us a lot of laughs, so thank you for sharing this awesome story!

  28. JLH*

    I worked at a restoration company that held their party in office in a nice upstairs showroom and the open bar was just one of the guys that worked in emergency services mixing whatever you wanted. I had a perfectly good time but this wasn’t a time where I felt like raging, so left after about an hour and a half with my partner, only to come back to work on Monday to hear of how one of crew had gotten absolutely blitzed and went crawling through the ductwork, only to fall through the ceiling of our catchall HR/Accounting head’s office. It makes me laugh every time I think about it, and I wasn’t even there.

    1. Partly Cloudy*

      “A naked blond walks into a bar carrying a poodle in one arm and a 2-foot salami in the other. She lays both on the table. The bartender says ‘I suppose you won’t be needing a drink.’ The naked lady says… ‘oh shit!'”

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      I never saw it before today (don’t know how I missed this), but this is definitely my favorite.

  29. Zee*

    One year I went to my husband’s work Christmas party and ended up carrying a very drunk coworker of his (who I had never met before that night) to the bathroom, holding her hair back while she puked on the bathroom floor of a fancy country club, mopping her puke up with the fancy hand towels, and then carrying her to her date’s car. The head of HR was in the bathroom at one point, and just said, “Oh, looks like someone had a little too much fun!”!!!! I felt so bad for this poor girl… she was fresh out of college and new to the company. Plus she must have had a wicked hangover. I blame the open bar and serious lack of vegetarian options.

  30. RJ*

    Greatest holiday party follow up letter ever!! Not going to lie – my old company had a dinner cruise about a year after I read this. They were all prodigious drinkers. I declined. Almost the same sequence of events happened there.

  31. arcya*

    Ok real question though: how exactly does one leave early from a dinner cruise boat, because I got stuck on one of those at a wedding reception once and short of calling the coast guard we had no way off

  32. chellieroo*

    My dad used to work for a company that had annual holiday bacchanals that had resulted in them being not welcome in several locations. The final, and possibly finest, involved several partygoers who may (or may not, who knows, this was probably 40 years ago) have stayed in the hotel and who ordered “to go” bottles of liquor from the open bar, causing the mythic boss “Joel” to become apoplectic upon receiving the bill. There were not further parties, although it is not clear whether that was as a result of the open bar or because he sold the company. Maybe he sold the company because of the open bar.

  33. Georgina Fredrika*

    ha, yep. Open Holiday Bar ended at my first company when my friend got so drunk that the boss and several others had to drive her home and deposit her at her front door. I am sorry I missed it…

  34. RB*

    This is really making me miss my time at major soft-drink company. Those parties were good. Since then I’ve worked at a non-profit which couldn’t afford lavish parties, and a government agency which tries to limit the alcohol at the parties to little or none.

  35. Pyjamas*

    Apologies if already posted but I looked up the additional details about the cruise from hell

    I quote:

    « I was dying reading this email. The secretary finally showed up, and since it was the two of us I of course cornered her and demanded the details. Apparently after I left, everyone got rowdier, one of my coworkers knew someone from another group on the boat and was giving him drinks, that other guy groped our boss’s wife on the dance floor leading boss to try to physically fight him, a co-worker’s spouse called the boss’s son-in-law (a black man) the N-word, and basically it was a total shit show. Thankfully since I had left before the disaster started I did not have to apologize. Apologies were made (privately and via company-wide email) and nobody ended up fired. No more open bars at parties from then on, though.»

    —end quote—

  36. La Triviata*

    Wow … that’s something. I’ve worked for a bunch of places – one banned all liquor at holiday parties, some had pretty free-wheeling parties. One place, the first year I was there had a 20-minute Christmas party consisting of some wine, cheese and crackers from a supermarket. They got livelier and came to involve lunches at nice places.

    Once, a bunch of us went out to wish a co-worker farewell. First, we had drinks and nibbles at a tiki bar, then moved on to an area where there were a lot of bars. We sat down to have our drinks, one woman pulled out a lollypop shaped like a penis; she commented how sweet it was. She also had one of the hanging ferns fall on her head. Another woman went off to the restroom and – since it was a converted townhouse with multiple levels – instead of coming back to the group on the lower level at the front ended up at the back on an in-between level, couldn’t figure out how to get back to us, exited to the alley, and called her husband to pick her up. Once she’d found her way back to a marked street, that is.

  37. MissDisplaced*

    Whooo Eeee! That must’ve been one epic party!
    I’ve been to a few humdingers myself, but nothing that degenerated to this level. Usually, it’s just a few troublesome people, not practically the whole company, including the boss.

  38. Uranus Wars*

    It doesn’t matter how often I read this, I cry tears of laughter every. single. time. They start at “Shots are not OK at a company party” and get worse from there.

  39. Foxgloves*

    This reminds me of the epic all staff meeting that was once called after a work summer party, where we were shepherded into a hall (it was a university) and BERATED for our Bad Behaviour, which included some people stealing wine from the caterers as they tried to pack up at the end. It. Was. Epic.

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