“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.’”

{ 195 comments… read them below }

    1. quill*

      It’s the air of mystery, combined with some of the rambly grammar that makes me think the boss was still a little hungover when he wrote it.

      Also just the phrase “I will confront you by Wednesday of next week.”

      1. Princesss Sparklepony*

        It just makes me want to know more! I know some of it from the first time I read it. I guess there was another group that glommed on to the open bar. But I so want to know what people’s spouses were doing! And did anyone come by to apologize or did the boss confront them on Wednesday? I want video!

    2. EA in CA*

      I’m in a new office and sent this around to the rest of the team. We all shared in a good laugh

      1. Rainer Maria von Trapp*

        “No one gave me a shot, and I just smiled but thought to myself, ‘Well! If you’re going to skip over me, why am I even ON this party boat?!”

    1. Turtles All The Way Down*

      It just gets better and better:

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

          1. Elenna*

            Wait, all that happened with only 15 employees?? All this time I’ve been imagining 100+ people!

            1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

              So the “some of you left early” probably meant OP and boyfriend only. I can’t tell from the tone whether the boss approved or disapproved of that decision.

            2. Denver Gutierrez*

              Me too! I was picturing this huge drunken brawl with people punching and trying to throw each other overboard.

          1. buddleia*

            This comment though from the OP: “Oh, and the first Christmas party I experienced there? Christmas bonuses were distributed via a handheld game of Deal or No Deal. No joke. It was a nightmare.”

      1. AE*

        She would have been deeply, mortally insulted that people were drinking from the open bar instead of the mid-priced coffee liqueur that she brought, and then thrown herself from the boat in protest.

      2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        “I brought top-shelf liquor, and a coworker went to the open bar and got a round of cheap-ass shots for everybody! That made me feel disrespected.”

      3. TheSheriff*

        “Cheap-Ass Rolls Lady” aka C.A.R.L. should become a legendary reference on this site.

        Ex: “Look at this complaining letter, sounds like CARL” or “CARL wouldn’t last in this company” etc

  1. Gingersnap*

    I am picturing an HBO miniseries based off of this email around this one night and the following week at work incl. WEDNESDAY – oh the potential!

  2. Essentially Cheesy*

    Sometimes it’s worth hanging around, even if you’re nursing a soda and being a wallflower. Wish I could have been a fly on the wall and maybe the OP did too.

    1. Richard Hershberger*

      It can be, but more often it is just watching a bunch of annoying drunk people doing nothing particularly interesting. It is the difference between a movie that is so bad it is good, and a movie that is simply bad.

      1. datamuse*

        I usually drink at parties, but sometimes I don’t because I just don’t feel like it or am concerned about triggering a migraine. And yeah, being the sober person when everyone around you is snockered (which is different from everyone around you drinking in moderation, in my experience) loses its entertainment value pretty quickly.

        1. Koalafied*

          When I’ve gone to parties and not drank, I’m often bowled over to realize how much the atmosphere smells like booze. You don’t notice it at all if you’re also imbibing the source of the scent, but boy is it palpable when you’re just drinking water.

          1. Kat in Boots*

            Me too. My introverted nature means that I have not been at too many parties where everyone was wildly inebriated and I was sober. The few times I HAVE experienced it were unpleasant. Drunk people do not understand boundaries and non-verbal cues and the smell is indeed overpowering.

        2. Tom*

          Accurate. Grad school parties rather than work parties for me, but even when the people involved are good friends of yours the entertainment value goes down very quickly, to the point where I have actually started cleaning up beer bottles and cups because I was just. That. Bored.

      2. Sleepless*

        Two of my least favorite things are: staying up late, and being around drunk people. (No offense to people who love to party, it’s just that human behavior barely makes sense to me when the normal rules apply. When they don’t, I get even more confused.) Therefore, I always leave parties by 10 PM.

        1. Artemesia*

          I haven’t been around that many sloppy drunks in my life but the few are memorable and always embarrassing and awkward. And mostly totally boring. I remembering working with another woman colleague to try to protect the job of a drunken male colleague who was trying to break into our room on a retreat ( I know, I know — but it was the 60s long before ‘me too’ when this was a woman’s job). We managed to get him back to his room without the manager having to confront the situation.

          I just tried to watch a movie with Alan Rickman and Emma Thompson called the Song of Lunch about a meeting between two former lovers; Rickman gets slowly drunk and I finally turned the thing off much as I love these actors when he had had about a bottle and a half of wine. It just isn’t amusing to watch drunks and people embarrassing themselves while drunk.

    2. anonymous73*

      I know some people enjoy the drama, but to me there is nothing more annoying than being the sober one in a room full of drunk people who don’t know when to say when.

    3. CalypsoSummer*

      I used to wait tables. I don’t think drunks are funny. I used to have to smile pleasantly at them and laugh at their jokes, in order to make a living. I don’t have to do that any more.

      1. Kat in Boots*

        I feel for you. Drunks are usually not funny and very cringeworthy. I imagine most of the drunk humour you had to deal with was awkward at best and offensive at worst.

  3. Phony Genius*

    One thing that is not clear: “I, myself, am guilty of attacking someone from the other group after he decided to retaliate by groping my wife.” What was the other guy retaliating for? The writer makes it sound like the other guy “retaliated first.”

    1. womanaroundtown*

      Kind of sounds like maybe he used a racial slur? Or at least, the comment about retaliation directly follows that line. Not good.

      1. Phony Genius*

        Checking the comments from the OP of this back when if was first published here, it seems that the racial slurs came after the groping.*

        * – Upon completing that I sentence, I sit here contemplating whether the timeline even matters.

        1. quill*

          I don’t think at this point that a “timeline” is something any of these folks had a handle on with the drinking.

    2. Snow Globe*

      The sentence before that references racial slurs. I’m assuming someone made a slur, a person from the other group retaliated to the slur (by groping President’s wife!) , then the president attacked him!

    3. MoreFriesPlz*

      He misuses several words in the letter so I assume he “retaliated first.” It sounds like he broke out the thesaurus for this one trying to sound serious.

        1. MoreFriesPlz*

          I’m imagining children fighting and that is PERFECT. Cannot tell you how many times my brother hit me because he knew I was going to hit him after lol.

    4. Koalafied*

      Among 100 other things to unpack, I find the “control your spouse” refrain to be very weird. Like instead of, “Your spouse or any guest you bring with you is expected to behave with decorum. If your guest cannot behave properly, leave them at home or you will both be asked to leave.” Like the spouses are like pet dogs that need to be leashed and commanded in order not to behave like asses, instead of humans who can just be told like adults that it’s not OK to be behave like an ass.

      1. angstrom*

        My parents told me that at one of his jobs early in his career, the spouse’s “performance” at social functions was part of his reviews and was a factor in promotion. The good old days!

        1. Anonym*

          My grandparents described this, too. Apparently one of the rounds of deciding which men at the firm got to be made partner was a party with the wives – it was decided that my grandmother was a strong, smart woman who could support her husband to be an effective partner and he got the job! The combination of sexism, pragmatism and utter subjectivity is wild to contemplate from here and now.

          1. A Wall*

            Many years ago I had a boyfriend who wanted to go into finance. He gradually started coaching me on things that he felt were important for me in being an impressive wife for him in the future, on the grounds that it was important for all the reasons you describe here. I don’t recall what all he tried to train me on (there were a lot of things and I took 0 of them seriously) but I do remember something about me needing to be highly educated on the arts and current events so I could be a good conversationalist at company functions. I also remember him having a little meltdown when he found out I was planning to get a tattoo that would be visible in evening attire. The relationship did not last long.

      2. Ali*

        Someone else in the comments mentioned the email sounded like the boss was still a little hungover when he wrote it. I feel like that would definitely account for this.

      3. tangerineRose*

        The LW commented in the original comments. Apparently one spouse used a racial slur about the boss’s son-in-law. Pet dogs tend to be MUCH better behaved than that.

    5. Artemesia*

      I assume this was the lewd dude from the other group who was drinking at the manager’s company’s open bar and who retaliated for being thrown out of this party by groping the manager’s wife.

      1. Hippo-nony-potomus*

        This was also my read. Total strangers were drinking on his dime; he asked them to stop; one of them, having drunk quite a lot on his dime, groped his wife.

        1. Amaranth*

          I’m surprised there wasn’t any kind of limit given to the bartender. Like ‘no shots’ and ‘cut people off when they are drunk.’ Don’t bartenders at events still have some liability that would make them avoid serving staggering drunks?

    6. Crashboom*

      Can’t really prove it but I am, in fact, the OP of the letter.

      “One thing that is not clear: “I, myself, am guilty of attacking someone from the other group after he decided to retaliate by groping my wife.” What was the other guy retaliating for? The writer makes it sound like the other guy “retaliated first.””

      I wasn’t a witness to this, but I think maybe the guy who groped the wife had been dancing (grinding) with her, my boss confronted him and then the guy groped? Maybe? It has been a really long time since I heard the full story. My boss then punched the guy. Or attempted to.

      1. Anonym*

        Bless you for returning to provide additional details! (And for sharing this epic in the first place.)

    7. R*

      Is it possible that the boss pissed off the guy from the other group by simply saying, “Hey, those are intended for my group only” or otherwise tried to stop the guy from being too festive?

  4. Gingersnap*

    I am picturing an HBO miniseries based off of this- the night of the part and then the week after, including WEDNESDAY. Oh the possibilities!

    1. yala*

      I want it told Rashamon style, where you eventually piece the whole thing together from different PoVs and all.

      Like some of the better episodes of Coupling.

    2. Artemesia*

      No it would start with WEDNESDAY and then go backwards in time to the party that lead to WEDNESDAY.

    3. Rob aka Mediancat*

      The investigator would be the one person (for the sake of the story, let’s make it one) who had to leave early; they come in bright and chipper on Monday morning to lots of people still out of it, one guy nursing a swollen jaw, no one really talking to each other . . . and then comes the email, and they get assigned to figure out the full story.

      Wackiness ensues.

    1. pancakes*

      I don’t know those stories from this site (before my time, I think) but I do know them from the site Letters of Note. You can see them there, categorized as The Tiger Oil Memos.

  5. Calliope*

    This is so pitch perfect. It’s like the episode of 30 Rock where Kenneth’s party gets out of hand and the next day he addresses the hung over staff with things like “Ms. Lemon, before last night I had never seen Grizz OR Dot Com cry.”

    1. MissGirl*

      I was coming here to say that. Something about the morning-after-regrets sounds so similar. “Mr. Hornburger, I would thank you to come pick up your wife at some point.”

  6. Scottish Teapot*

    Ahhhh Christmas time when this absolute classic gets another airing. One of the best emails I’ve ever read. To be a fly on the wall at this event!

  7. Forrest Gumption*

    Someone remind me, in case I missed it: how exactly did the LW leave early (and how does one take their spouse home if they are misbehaving) if the party was on a dinner cruise boat?? Do they swim to shore? Or was there an “escape dinghy” for those needing to make a speedy escape?

    1. Lauren Comrade*

      Good point! I’m in a coastal area and I’ve seen some that stay docked for some portion of the party. Guessing the boat party was a one-off and the prez had a the prez had non-seafaring parties in mind.

    2. Caramel & Cheddar*

      I’ve known people to take a water taxi back to shore when trying to escape a cruise like this.

        1. Kat in Boots*

          which is a great way to add risk for drowning, when people get this drunk. So much about this party is off the charts.

    3. MisterForkbeard*

      My guess is that the boat was docked the whole time. I’ve been at company events where this was the case.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I went to one during the day where we were supposed to be cruising the lake on a steamboat, but the wind was too high so they stayed put. At least everyone behaved. It was a crap day for me for personal reasons; I did not want to go but it was mandatory.

        Note to employers: do not make these things mandatory.

        1. MoreFriesPlz*

          Nothing on a boat should ever be mandatory if your job title isn’t along the lines of “sea captain” or “wooden mermaid.”

    4. Littorally*

      Per the OP’s comments from before, the cruise only lasted an hour and then the boat was docked the rest of the time.

  8. Haven’t picked a user name yet*

    I feel like the only thing that could make this email more amazing is if he had signed off: “stay gold”.

      1. Random Biter*

        The author of the cheap ass rolls letter has now gone down in history with the agony of defeat guy (Google is your friend). I live for the day someone actually markets Cheap Ass Rolls.

  9. Lauren Comrade*

    Dying for more deets about what inappropriate acts actually went down and how it went with the apologies. OP, please send an update if you see this!

  10. animaniactoo*

    2 things make this story even funnier for me today.

    1) Last night, we had our company holiday party (with lots of precautions taken in advance). There was an open bar. Shots were had. It was not the first time shots were had at the holiday party. A couple of years ago the EVP of Sales was lining them up and inviting people to join in.

    2) Today I discovered that my company now has an employee named Michael Scott and well.. I’m dying. And this letter just helps my whole sense of Shenanigans Happening today.

    1. Jennifer Strange*

      Today I discovered that my company now has an employee named Michael Scott and well.. I’m dying.

      Poor guy! He’s a marked man before he even starts!

    2. Alexis Rosay*

      Lol, what is the most baffling to me is why a company would offer an open bar if they don’t want employees to…you know, drink lots of alcohol? Because otherwise there’s something called ‘drink tickets’.

  11. MisterForkbeard*

    The best part about this is when he admits that he decked someone at the party, but everyone else needs to apologize to HIM. Love it.

    1. Phony Genius*

      He did make a general apology in the letter, but that part doesn’t specifically say it’s for hitting somebody. Just for “not handling the situation that I was confronted with in a different manner.”

      1. MisterForkbeard*

        I hope as many of his employees apologized in the same manner. Just dropped into his office and said “I did not handle the situation with conduct befitting a and bye!”

    2. MoreFriesPlz*

      Idk, he punched someone who assaulted his wife, who isn’t an employee, and then said he didn’t act appropriately and apologized. I’m not sure what else he’s really supposed to do.

      1. yala*

        I’m a little confused about that, tho, because he said the person retaliated by groping his wife, but doesn’t specify what the person is retaliating *for*

        Were other wives groped? Was he the recipient of said slurs? Did the boss grope his wife first? (Or did the wife grope him first? Or one of the boss’s guests? There’s definitely some ladies who think they can get handsy as they like when they’re drunk)

        1. Artemesia*

          Almost certainly the boss told him he could not partake of the open bar since he was not an employee of this company.

          1. MoreFriesPlz*

            That was my read, or he didn’t actually retaliate and it was a misuse of the word. I’d the boss’s wife groped a rando and the rando retaliated by groping her back thats… well that’s just kinda your wife fooling around w a random man on a boat.

            I know violence is theoretically wrong etc but I can never actually bring myself to feel bad about men who grope or otherwise sexually assault/ harass women and then get punched in the face. I just can’t. I’d love if men feared (the consiquences of) groping random women as much as women feared being groped by men.

    3. anonymous73*

      It doesn’t specifically say he hit anyone, but he did retaliate for someone groping his wife – completely understandable IMO.

      1. MoreFriesPlz*

        That’s a good point he says attacked but that could be verbal too? The writing style is a funny mix of faux fancy and hung over so it’s hard to read.

  12. Richard Hershberger*

    True confession: Many years ago, when I was in my mid-twenties, I was at a Society for Creative Anachronism camping event. Even then I was not normally a heavy drinker, but I sometimes made an exception at these events. I had not worked out that this meant I wasn’t aware of my limits. At this particular event, a good friend advised me the morning after that apologies were in order: not to her, but to, well, everyone else. I didn’t remember what I had done, so I spent the rest of the morning making the rounds of various encampments apologizing for whatever it was I did or said. I think it helped that I was genuinely mortified. I didn’t have to fake sincerity. Fortunately, in this particular cultural context this mending of fences was accepted. It was a learning experience. Included among the things I learned is that my limit is two, or at most three for extended occasions.

        1. Richard Hershberger*

          She was rather vague at the time. I should call her and ask if she remembers, lo these decades later.

        2. Richard Hershberger*

          And really, the point of the apology is not so much the specifics done while inebriated as for getting so inebriated as to lose my faculties. I make this point about angry drunks. Once you know you are an angry drunk you have a responsibility not to get drunk, at least not around other people. The act of drinking implies the actions done while drunk, so control yourself while you are still sober. I am fortunate in that I am a happy drunk: the sort who will make protestations of love to random passersby. I’m pretty sure my drunken transgressions were of the sloppy sentimentality sort: embarrassing all around, but mostly harmless. Thinking back, I also had a fondness for spitting hard liquor into campfires to enjoy the fireworks. In retrospect, that probably wasn’t such a good idea. Waste of booze, too.

          1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

            At college our Dean sternly explained that alcohol is a *compounding* factor, not a mitigating factor. An offence committed under the influence is two offences: doing the thing, and being drunk enough to do the thing.

            (UK, so all students old enough to drink legally)

          2. SweetFancyPancakes*

            Absolutely. I had a friend in college who would apologize for her boyfriend saying “He’s a really nice guy, just a mean drunk.” And I would think, then he shouldn’t be getting drunk.

    1. holiday survivor*

      Oh lordy…SCA weekenders…there’s always some dude with a lute who thinks he’s a ladies man. And fire.

    2. CBB*

      I was not normally a heavy drinker, but I sometimes made an exception at these events. I had not worked out that this meant I wasn’t aware of my limits.

      I suspect this is the story behind most office-parties-gone-bad stories.

      If you don’t get drunk regularly, it’s hard to know what your limit is, and easy to forget the importance of knowing your limit.

      It’s also easy to vastly overestimate the optimal amount to drink. For me the correct amount to drink for maximum enjoyment is only 2-3 drinks, which takes some restraint because it leaves me feeling like I’m not taking full advantage of an open bar.

  13. Nobody know the trouble I’ve caused*

    I knew this one would crop up again in the holiday season! One of my favorites

  14. bamcheeks*

    What IS a “no fraternization policy” at a party where people’s spouses are invited? No fraternising with your own spouse? No fraternising with other people’s? No fraternising with people from other parties? Is the point of a party– to fraternise??

    1. Caramel & Cheddar*

      I always interpret this as they have a policy of not allowing fraternizing between coworkers and that there were definitely some fraternizations on the cruise.

    2. Elenna*

      I read that to mean that (hopefully) unattached coworkers hooked up in defiance of the no-fraternization policy.

      1. Bamcheeks*

        I … didn’t know that actually. It’s not a phrase that I have ever seen used for real, just in historical contexts where it meant things like my mum not being able to walk home from school with her male cousins!

        1. Candi*

          The meaning of ‘fraternization’’ for the past few decades means partnerships of either the romantic or bedroom activity variety.

          Sensible companies/NPOs/government departments don’t like it since relationship drama can intrude on the workplace, and the many unfortunate implications if they’re in the same chain of command, one above the other in rank. Large companies may allow people with romantic (family, close friend) relationships to work for them, but they usually can’t be anywhere near each other or in a position of authority over each other.

          The thing with your mom and her cousins is excessive prudishness dressed up in fancy language. Since they weren’t her brothers, they might -oh my- have premarital relations or something on that walk home. People trying to ban things they don’t want to talk about, particularly with children, spend way too much time thinking about them, especially the “dirty” subjects and how they could happen. (I have a very low opinion of such people.)

  15. Taking the long way round*

    The apologies are voluntary! But if you don’t apologise you could lose your job! And you have to voluntarily apologise by Tuesday or I will come and find you to make you voluntarily apologise!
    And I myself got drunk too so I apologise, but you must voluntarily apologise more for being a worse drunk than me! But only voluntarily!

    So, so funny.

  16. Excel Jedi*

    The fact that this sounds like a perfectly normal and rational response to that kind of office party probably means it’s about time for me to leave my current company…..

  17. Megan in Seattle*

    I need to know more about this sentence!
    “I also felt betrayed by some of you for patronizing the one individual from the adjoining group, who’s behavior was lewd and offensive…”
    I mean, “patronizing” has two meanings, but I don’t think the boss would feel betrayed if they were talking down to that “one individual,” which makes me think they were stripping or something and people from the company were distributing singles?

    1. not a doctor*

      I always interpreted it as the employees either abiding or actively encouraging the interloper’s behavior and maybe getting them more drinks if/when they were caught stealing from the open bar. That’s not what patronizing actually means, obviously, but I chalk it up to a misuse.

    2. Generic Name*

      I assume the president is trying to sound “smart” and “company presidential” by using big words the doesn’t fully understand the meaning of.

    3. Artemesia*

      I assume it meant they were encouraging his behavior and ‘buying him’ drinks or inviting them into their circle and socializing with him — but almost certainly encouraging his drink mooching.

  18. Laure001*

    This email is a wonder, yes. But it’s been published so many times on this site over the years that its original author has to know about it by now, right?
    Because, statistically, there must be at least one employee of that firm who reads Ask a Manager, who saw the email published and recognized it. And, of course, then they must have shared the news with everyone at the office and the news must have gone back to the original writer…
    Who may be, right now, reading the comments. If so, “hi!”

    1. Nanani*

      IIRC it was a very small company, and it sounds like at least some of the participants have little to no memory of events.

  19. I Always Listen to The Boss*

    Was this the inspiration for “Office Christmas Party?” Or for “Office Christmas Party 2: The Confrontations?”

  20. yala*

    Reading it again now, and all I can think of is the Animator’s Retreat that Walt Disney threw for his animation team exactly *once*

  21. Anon for this one*

    This always makes me laugh and reminds me that I didn’t work for the only company that sent emails like this. After the holiday party where the drunk CEO publicly insulted me because his wife had misunderstood a comment a few weeks before, I quit the following week for a job with better pay, better benefits, and no drunken holiday party.

    1. redwinemom*

      … and there is a link in the first sentence that will bring you to the ORIGINAL. (The story was actually in a comment from the week before.)

  22. FYI*

    Well, I guess I am the weirdo, because I don’t see why this would be the funniest ever? I see someone who tried to have a nice holiday event for his staff, at considerable expense, and who is angry and embarrassed by infantile, rude behavior. He is also angry and embarrassed by his own efforts to control things that night (when his wife got assaulted in the chaos). I mean, what am I missing? Why is this funny? It seems sad to me, and really odd to hold him up to ridicule?

    1. Presea*

      I agree. I’m not trying to rain on anyone’s parade, genuinely, but I would appreciate if someone could explain what’s funny here. The only part of it I find even mildly amusing is “I will confront you by Wednesday of this week”, but that’s only due to the slightly awkward wording and it’s not really that funny in the context of the rest of the email.

    2. Sherm*

      I’d say that it’s not so much that the events were funny, but the way the boss tried to package all of the chaos, embarrassment, and mortification into a tightly wound, awkwardly official (“I will confront you by Wednesday”), and grammatically suspect email. Plus, it’s been over 10 years, so hopefully he can laugh about it now!

      (And the OP clarified that what the boss described as groping was consensual dance floor hijinks.)

    3. learnedthehardway*

      I think that the humor of the situation is primarily because it seems that the president was one of the worst-behaved of the whole bunch, and appears to have written the email while he was still drunk (or seriously hung-over). In the original poster’s comments, he also notes that the wife was apparently a full, voluntary participant in the alleged “groping”, which was basically dancing exceedingly closely.

      1. FYI*

        In my line of work, I see a lot of bad writing, including from executives, and the writers are not drunk or hung-over. It is very, very common. This man’s meaning is clear at least, and I imagine he is very upset.

        I feel sad for him, particularly because he is being held up for public ridicule for a reason that still escapes me. His staff acted like jackholes and DID put his firm at risk. I don’t see where it says that he was drunk, just very angry.

      2. Just Me*

        Also how instead of just pulling those people aside one by one, he thought he should send this weird email to everyone in the company. I would maybe a check in at a staff meeting and say, “Hey, folks, things got weird, we’re take another look at how we handle holiday parties in the future” and then meet individually with the people who got out of hand or who may have been made uncomfortable. Sending a weird email like this and dropping all of these details is just tmi.

    4. Generic Name*

      I find this post mildly amusing rather than outright hilarious. As for what is particularly funny, I’m sure that part of the amusement is imagining the “unusual chain of events” the night before that led up to the email. I personally don’t find drunken shenanigans all that funny, but tons and tons of people do.

      The odd word choices help add to the humor. I think the president misuses several words so the sentences take on a different meaning than the intent. I imagine he was going for “formal and intelligent” but it doesn’t land that way if you know what any of those words mean.

      And as others have pointed out, the president is demanding “voluntary” apologies, upon threat of dismissal. Another contradiction. Something cannot be simultaneously voluntary and mandatory.

      And there’s also the grain of hypocrisy. The president is chastising his staff for engaging in rowdy drunken behavior, while in the same breath admitting to rowdy drunken behavior. This also evokes the image of the president’s wife getting groped and then the president likely punching another adult. Classic slapstick-style humor.

    5. Bamcheeks*

      It’s the combination of blaming everyone else and total lack of responsibility for his own actions.

      If I had thumped someone in a drunken rage, I would START with an apology. I wouldn’t bring it in casually a third of the way through as if it was something that had happened to me. The humour is in the absurdity of trying to hold everyone else responsible for their terrible behaviour whilst completely shamelessly trying to deny all responsibility for your own.

  23. Falling Diphthong*

    It is also unfortunate that a few have to ruin it for the whole group.

    I feel like the history of humanity is iterations on a good thing briefly came together, and then a few had to ruin it for the whole group.

  24. Rather be hiking*

    Reposting the update from the OP from last year’s repost @ https://www.askamanager.org/2020/12/i-will-confront-you-by-wednesday-of-this-week.html#comment-3203124

    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.

  25. So they all cheap ass rolled over and one fell out*

    I once received an email saying (paraphrased – I didn’t save it) “Today is Wednesday”
    “Hello all,
    Today is Wednesday, not Saturday. You are all expected to show up at your desks bright eyed and bushy tailed by 9 AM. ” and so forth.
    Apparently half the staff had gone out drinking on Tuesday evening. Heavily. It was just a random Tuesday, too, not a holiday party or anything.

  26. Heron*

    The person who wrote the email neglected to apologize for his poor command of the English language.

  27. Mr. Cajun2core*

    I do have to say that I admire the boss for apologizing. I have known bosses that would not have apologized yet expected apologies from the people who work for them.

  28. Anonymous Engineer*

    Every once in awhile the phrase “I will confront you by Wednesday of next week” floats through my head and I just assume it’s from a movie or TV show. How could I forget it’s from this amazing email?!

  29. Jean Valjean*

    “I will confront you by Wednesday of this week” is my new email signature.

    I am laughing so hard I am crying, how have I missed this in years past!

  30. StoneColdJaneAusten*

    You know…if the company pays for the bar, whether or not shots are available is the company’s decision. They don’t have to put it on the employees

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*


      At BigLaw, holiday parties were lavish, and open bar was standard. But after one, we had a Monday morning email saying that future open bars would have restrictions, because some people had been ordering rounds of absinthe shots and similar. After that it was limited to beer, wine and house spirits with mixers (eg vodka and orange, gin and tonic). Those who wanted to were still able to get hammered on the firm’s account, just not on top shelf spirits. If you wanted those, you paid.

  31. Lady Blerd*

    In the before times, emails like this or verbal apologies to the group, was a regular occurrence after office parties at my organization.

  32. Event Person*

    Looking at this from an “event person” perspective, I don’t understand how “the other party” could have taken advantage of their open bar at the venue. Wouldn’t the members of the firm all have wristbands which would have identified them as members of the firm?

    Also, I have been to events where they had an open bar but straight shots were not allowed to be ordered. There are also instances of “limited open bar” where people are only given a certain number of drink tickets for the open bar. Yes, people give others their drink tickets but that will still reduce the number of overly drunk people.

    1. BeckyinDuluth*

      I’ve been to several open bar events that are just that – a bar available to anyone that walks up. Usually it’s in a room somewhere, so the assumption is that you won’t get to it unless you are part of the party, but really anyone could walk in. No wrist-bands required.

  33. librarymouse*

    Nothing gets me in the Christmas Spirit quite like the words “I will confront you by Wednesday of this week.”

  34. Melanie H.*

    After reading this, I REALLY wish that I was there to witness this or see video or something. I need to know details!

  35. Laura Patrice*

    Okay, but what I really want to know is how the OP left early. Did the cruise never leave the dock? I’ve been on a couple of boat cruises and usually you are stuck on there for the duration.

  36. Jonquil*

    A classic. I would love to read a follow up, like did anyone get fired? Does OP have more details about what happened? How did they get out of a boat party when normally you’re stuck for the duration? Or was this a classic “shenanigans moved to a second location” issue?

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      From reading some linked comments from the OP on other posts:
      – the boat was only sailing for an hour (so I’m betting that OP and date left shortly after the boat returned to the dock)
      – everyone did eventually apologize, so no firings (but many years later only boss and one person from this debacle are still there)
      -apparently the party continued at the dock for a while, with all the resulting hijinks

  37. Just Me*

    My fiancée works for a marketing agency where drinking is practically a job requirement. He got the job right out of grad school and the company owner offered to take him on a company trip to Las Vegas maybe a week before his official first day (he had interned before, but it was going to be his first time truly working as a not intern). He ended up having to miss the company trip and just showed up on Monday for his first day as normal.

    As he walks in, everyone is ushered into this conference room and the owner says, “I just want everyone to know that Jane gave notice. Doing what Jane did in Las Vegas doesn’t *necessarily* mean that you will be fired, but we expect you all to exercise good judgement and we will also be conducting an investigation into some of the other events from this weekend.”

    Turns out that Jane got blackout drunk, groped every single male employee, urinated in a corner of the hotel room she was sharing with a coworker, and slept through a client meeting. She then wrote and sent her resignation email while on the airplane with her coworkers as they were flying home. Woof.

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