“I will confront you by Wednesday of this week”

There will be more posts than usual this week, so keep checking back throughout the day.

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.’”

{ 160 comments… read them below }

  1. Gerry Keay*

    This is the post I send to people when I want to get them hooked on AAM. This and the “you must call my 24/7 D/s partner ‘Sir'” letter.

    1. ArchivistPony*

      Mine is either the I quit in Fish post or the donate for my brother’s organ transplant or be fired posts :D

      1. m m*

        Thank you for reminding me of the I quit in fish post. My tears automatically flow every time I recall it.

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

          The epic quits thread was epic. I liked the one where the guy quitting staged a parade with a riding mower.

        2. Ann O'Nemity*

          Or the time the OP got frustrated with a ridiculous work project and they just burned all the paperwork.

      2. Gumbotron*

        I’m a big fan of the stolen spicy food and the bird phobe! The birdphobe one is interesting because while it’s a wild situation, it’s also one that requires some nuance.

        1. IndustriousLabRat*

          The Saga of the Stolen Spicy Food may be one of the greatest tales ever to grace the Internets, and I’ve re-read it so many times. What a ride!

            1. Fishsticks*

              Gosh, that was an amazing saga. Just the sheer bizarre nonsense and then the satisfying, perfect conclusion.

              I just think so much about how nice it would have been to get to sit in the room when the Big Boss spoke to HR Lady and Thief.

        2. Jackalope*

          There’s a similar post from AITA on Reddit this week. I’ll post it in a link below but the OP had put hot sauce on his leftovers to take to work and his brother’s ONS ate them without his permission and then got furious at how spicy they were. Seriously; who DOES that?

          1. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

            Just to put the frosting on the cake (or the hot sauce on the Thai food), one of the Redditors referenced the AAM post!

      1. cncx*

        Yes! I came here to say cheap ass rolls! I even ask people when they are bringing stuff for potlucks (it’s a thing in my friend group) if they’re bringing good, fancy rolls or cheap ass rolls.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        I think Gerry Keay is referring to the my coworker wants us to call her boyfriend her “master” letter from Sept 27, 2016 (unless there’s another one!). I’ll link to the letter and update in a follow-up comment.

    2. J*

      I got fired because someone stole my spicy lunch and the +1 to the enamored magician at the holiday party are my top letters

        1. Lance*

          With the dieticians, I’m guessing you mean? That’s always a weird one to go back to, since someone commented a while after the letter went up with a huge chip on their shoulder.

      1. Gerry Keay*

        Ohh yes I forgot about the forlorn piano playing magician!!! Man, holiday parties really are where all the sublimated work neuroses come out to play.

      2. Looper*

        Was the “spicy lunch” one the letter that had a follow up that turned out the lunch-thief was having an affair with the head of HR? That was truly one of the greatest updates of all time.

      3. IndustriousLabRat*

        Somewhere there exists a truly brilliant superhero-themed fanfic of the magician/musician. I wouldn’t even know how to find it again but if someone knows what I’m on about, please share!

            1. Kacihall*

              I fully admit that I have the author and the title but not the link because it’s downloaded on my phone :)

      4. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind the Curtain*

        The holiday magician date makes me cry it’s so funny, and well-written.

      1. Allornone*

        Now, every time I see Hawaiian rolls, I know someone, somewhere, out there is glad they aren’t “cheap ass roles.” Personally, I find Hawaiian roles to be very cost-effective ass roles.

        1. SHEILA, the co-host*

          I was at a holiday party yesterday and there were at least six types of rolls (including the Hawaiian ones). The person who brought the Hawaiian ones was not throwing a tantrum, but I still couldn’t resist a laugh when I saw the spread.

    3. ABCYaBYE*

      The one that got me hooked was the boss (owner of company) dumping cups of urine into the shared sink. I was sitting at my desk going back and forth between snorting with laughter and tears from said laughter.

    4. Llama Identity Thief*

      Weirdly for me, it’s the boss that wouldn’t let her star employee go to her college graduation. The specific mixture of “WTF” and “yeah Allison lay the smack down” is what really sold me – absolutely absurd scenarios, but mixed with sensible advice that isn’t afraid to say “have you considered that you’re wrong?”

      1. I AM a Lawyer*

        This makes me think of the boss who wouldn’t give a birthday gift to the employee whose birthday was on February 29, except on leap years. I’m still baffled by that one.

    5. NotEvilHRLady*

      Gerry Keay do you have the link to the above-referenced letter? I must have missed it while reading older posts.

      1. Gerry Keay*

        A few people have linked it above! Title: my coworker wants us to call her boyfriend her “master”

    6. CallmeSundance*

      Me too- either this or the letter that went viral about the teacher who ghosted his girlfriend who then ended up being the principal at his school!

      1. 1LFTW*

        That was the one that got me hooked – the teacher who’d ghosted his girlfriend. Only he didn’t just ghost her: he moved out of their shared apartment and left the country while she was visiting family, because she wanted more commitment than he was ready for, and he didn’t have the guts to just break up like a normal person. Or even leave a note, like a somewhat less-normal person.


    7. Heidi*

      While we’re listing the classics, I must give a shout out to Leap Day baby’s day off. It makes you question the very nature of sanity.

    8. Not Your Sweetheart*

      Mine is the “sensual wrist” cover letter. Honestly, if that letter doesn’t make you laugh til you cry, it’s comment section will.

  2. Mr. Shark*

    This email is just so awesome. Epic is the exact word for it. Endlessly entertaining to those of us who weren’t there and didn’t get hammered (or have spouses inebriated or guilty of racial slurs).

  3. Abogado Avocado*

    Am I the only person reading this golden post, which I love, who wishes she could have been at that epic Christmas party?

    1. Goldenrod*

      “Am I the only person reading this golden post, which I love, who wishes she could have been at that epic Christmas party?”


    2. CL*

      I’ve been at office holiday parties like this and gotten emails like this the next day. It’s much better to be an outside observer.

    3. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      I would like to have seen it! Definitely not my scene, but every company / holiday party I’ve been to has been completely buttoned-up so it would be fascinating to witness crazy workplaces in the wild. (Sometimes, while reading the letters and comments, I wonder if I work in an alternate universe.)

    4. The AO*

      Me too! I am sitting here reading this and eating a snack, wishing I could have been at the party watching the drama unfold, while eating a snack!

  4. Empress Matilda*

    This whole thing is glorious.

    And I’m still trying to imagine the exact chain of events that led to this:

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

    Oh, to have been a fly on the wall at this event!

    1. Mallory Janis Ian*

      This is the part that first cracks me up. Then it’s, “I will confront you by Wednesday this week”

      1. Vio*

        I wish we’d received an update over what happened on the Wednesday, if anyone did get fired or how apologetic and/or scared people seemed in the next few days

        1. Yoyoyo*

          There was an update in the comments of the original post! If I recall correctly, nobody got fired and people did apologize in person or via email to the entire group.

    1. Kes*

      Same, I thought for a moment this was an update to it and I was so excited, then I realized it was just a rerun. But it certainly is worth repeating as a post

    2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      There was, in the comments somewhere on one of the reposts, but I couldn’t find it now for the life of me.

  5. Beth*

    For Christmas, I would like the AAM collection of fanfic on Ao3 to expand and pick up some of the other Great Epic Holiday Party Fails.

  6. Hermione Danger*

    “Let’s not let this one incidence stop us from being [#1 company in field]. ”

    Every time I read this letter, I forget about this absolutely classic line. And every time I read this line, I swoon delightedly all over again.

    1. I am Emily's failing memory*

      That line makes me chuckle too because I can’t decide whether it was particular paraphrased because the actual verbatim was:
      1 – some kind of profanity (this seems the least likely)
      2 – some complete nonsense that wouldn’t be readily understood by anyone outside the company, like “lions” in reference to some team building exercise where lion was used to symbolize leadership
      3 – some kind of obscure consulting industry award that the manager thinks everyone else aspires to win just as much as him, or
      3b – an industry award that was removed because this wild firm actually won it that year and LW thought it was too identifying a detail

      1. Hermione Danger*

        I think it’s 3B. Or a company name that everyone reading would probably recognize. Which is why it slays me every year. It’s such a corporate leader trying to rally the troops thing to say, and absolute ridiculousness given everything that came before.

        1. Irish Teacher*

          I was assuming it was something identifying, like “the number one pharmaceutical company in Detroit.”

          But I like the idea of it being something like 2.

    2. ChemistryChick*

      For some reason, that line always makes me think of the episode of Futurama where the 80’s Guy takes over Planet Express.

      “Blank?! Blank?! You’re not looking at the big picture!!”

  7. Taking the long way round*

    I’ve read this several times now over the years and it gets better every time.
    Each time, I notice more peculiarities of choice of vocabulary. Truly astonishing!
    I wish we had an update on this.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      There was an update! I’ll link in a follow-up comment, and in the meantime you can search for update: “I will confront you by Wednesday of this week”. The update was posted December 14, 2021.

    2. ChemistryChick*

      If you go back to the original thread calling for stories, the OP updates in the comments with the username Crashboom.

    3. Taking the long way round*

      Wow. That update was wild. Such bad behaviour from a lot of people at the party and no one was fired for it!

  8. The Prettiest Curse*

    I’m an event planner. This email is the reason that, if my boss ever asks me to plan a party on a boat, I will run into the courtyard screaming and then instantly resign. My personal events hills to die on are 1) boats and 2) bouncy castles. Both are way more trouble than they’re worth.

    1. allathian*

      My company holiday party this year was on a 6-hour cruise, with an all-inclusive buffet including wine/beer. I didn’t attend. From what I’ve heard, everyone had a good time and nobody got drunk out of their skull, but it’s still not my idea of fun. I don’t want to be confined for hours with no way out. At least the LW could leave early…

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        Holy crap, 6 hours on a boat? Even as an event attendee, that would make me run away screaming.

  9. Bird Lady*

    I’m so confused. How did the restaurant ever keep their liquor license? In my state, over serving is a great way to lose your legal ability to serve alcohol. (Not that I’m deflecting blame from the bad actors, but I used to manage a license for an event venue and I know how strict the state regulating agency is!)

    1. Kali*

      Only in some states. In my state, businesses have kept their liquor licenses despite years and years of DWIs, fights, and – in a few memorable instances – literally murder. All of which could be linked to the copious amounts of alcohol flowing.

    2. Stacy*

      There are no rules on the high seas. I can only assume this boat party was held in international waters.

      1. Bridget*

        Not sure it was actually held on the water—more likely a marina since the letter writer was able to leave early.

        1. 1LFTW*

          Yes, they confirmed that in the update linked further up the thread. It was a harbor cruise that went out for an hour and then docked, allowing some lucky few to leave early, while the partying continued for the rest.

  10. Lcsa99*

    I went back and read the comments from the original post and now I am hearing this in the voice of Mr. Peterson from the old Bob Newhart Show, and I love it even more.

    1. Snow Globe*

      Well, now I’m imagining Mr. Peterson telling Dr. Hartley the story about attacking someone who groped his wife, so thank you for that!

      1. Carol the happy elf*

        That’s funny, I heard it in the voice of Buddy’s Elf Dad (Bob Newhart!) Considering the season, and when I was a teenager, my Dad had a vinyl record of a Bob Newhart comedy routine. (Telephone call routine?)

    2. The Princess of Pure Reason*

      I always read it in the voice of the knight from the French castle scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Except instead of taunting a second time, they’re being confronted by Wednesday.

  11. LMM*

    OK this one is such a classic in my mind that every time I get cut off in traffic or whatever other small quotidian offense disrupts my day, I scream in my heart, “I WILL CONFRONT YOU BY WEDNESDAY OF THIS WEEK!”

    It helps so much. I highly recommend it.

  12. VaguelySpecific*

    My inner prankster is thinking it would be hilarious to send just the first and last paragraph out as a company-wide email the Monday after the office Christmas party…where nothing scandalous actually happened. The office rumor mill would absolutely implode!!!

    (for legal reasons, this is a joke. I do not endorse actually weaponizing the office rumor mill, despite the number of times people have chosen to weaponize it against me.)

  13. Brain the Brian*

    I am reminded of a time in college marching band, when a full quarter of the band showed up still drunk — not just hungover, but still drunk — to a high-profile morning performance after a hefty party the night before. Our director let us know in no uncertain terms that anyone who did not personally apologize to him and toe the line for the rest of the year would fail the associated class. “I don’t want to know what you did last night, just that you understand you should never do it again.”

    Over a decade later, I’m still ashamed of my conduct… including, but certainly not limited to, the resulting vomiting spell mid-performance. We students adjusted our schedule of unofficial parties thereafter.

  14. Bootstrap Paradox*

    It’s not holiday time until Alison posts this letter and Hans Gruber falls from Nakatomi Tower

    1. Taking the long way round*

      Have you seen that Die-Hard-imitation movie trailer, Violent Night? It looks awesomely terrible and I can’t wait to see it.

      1. Bunny Girl*

        In a related thread, one year while looking for a Christmas present for my dad, who is a self confessed Die Hard fan, I found an R-rated Die Hard Christmas Puppet show. I immediately bought him tickets, convinced my mom to take him, and apparently it was a hit. So if anyone comes across that, it comes with recommendations.

      2. Gracely*

        There’s a Die Hard Christmas board book for kids that I gift to someone’s kid every Christmas without fail since I discovered it. It has been a universal hit.

  15. Coverage Associate*

    My husband is not attending my office holiday party for actually boring reasons. I wish I could facetiously cite this letter to explain why when people ask, but I don’t have good enough comedic timing to pull that off.

  16. Mehitabel*

    Woe betide the unfortunate among them who have no memory of the events that transpired at the party and who therefore do not, in fact, ‘know who they are’.

    1. Marna Nightingale*

      I think in general if you drank enough at an event that you don’t remember what you did that night, you should probably assume you’re on the “I need to apologise” list.

    2. learnedthehardway*

      Now THAT is the update I want to hear about – what about the people who have “no memory of any such incident”? What happened when they were confronted (on or before Wednesday)?

      Enquiring mind wants to know!!!

  17. Not Jenn*

    The juxaposition of this post (which makes me laugh every time) and the post below with the person who thinks re-telling stories = rude is so funny to me.

  18. Merci Dee*

    Every time I read this letter, the thing that cracks me up is this:

    “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.”

    It’s like, “Hmmmm . . . . I’ve thought about this situation a whole bunch and decided that you guys were completely in the wrong.” No, dear. That’s not the way it works. You think about the situation to determine how you can own your own behavior. You don’t think about it and decide that someone else needs to make amends. That’s for them to decide on their own.

    I love this line every single time I read this.

    1. Tea Rose*

      “No, dear. That’s not the way it works. You think about the situation to determine how you can own your own behavior. You don’t think about it and decide that someone else needs to make amends. That’s for them to decide on their own.”

      What an odd takeaway. A CEO in particular gets to set a code of conduct, and if you violate it, then they really do get to decide that you apologize or you walk. In this case, the OP shared more detail in the comments. There is a level of egregious in some of the behaviors that you don’t need a code of conduct to realize warrants apologies.


      1. allathian*

        Agreed. But the bit where employees are expected to apologize for the behavior of their spouses gets me every time. If I take my husband to a work do and he behaves badly, not that he ever would but hypothetically, there’s absolutely nothing I could do to control his behavior. I’d certainly be embarrassed by it, but I wouldn’t accept any responsibility for it.

        1. socks*

          I think it’s fair to expect an apology for bringing the person who behaved badly, especially when the bad behavior in question is “gets drunk and calls a black man the n-word.”

      2. Merci Dee*

        Nobody said that the CEO can’t set a code of conduct and enforce it however he wishes. I don’t think I did a good job of explaining what I found so amusing about this . . . .

        The last sentence above this paragraph talks about how the CEO attacked someone who “groped” his wife. He admits that he did this, but his statement about attacking the person from the other group feels to me like he’s trying to hand-wave and explain it away by saying that he attacked someone who was groping his wife in “retaliation”, though it’s not exactly clear what the person from the other group was retaliating against — maybe the booze being cut off? Who knows. Anyway, the CEO states that he did this thing, and then the next paragraph jumps into how the other employees need to apologize. The CEO didn’t apologize anywhere in his letter for attacking someone outside the company, but he’s going to go around and confront the other people that he feels owes him/others an apology. That’s the thing about the letter that always cracks me up. He’s not innocent of the shenanigans that went on during the party, but everyone else has to apologize for it.

  19. Delta Delta*

    the phrase “I will confront you by Wednesday of this week” crosses my mind from time to time and always makes me giggle.

  20. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

    Only once have I ever needed to tell a manager the Monday after the holiday party that he needed to get help for his alcohol problem, but it was a memorable occasion.

  21. LifeBeforeCorona*

    LOL, It’s always the spouses to blame. “Honey if I could remember what I did, I would apologize.”

  22. Irish Teacher*

    What I find most amusing is that he is berating people for ordering shots and getting multiple drinks while casually mentioning that he attacked somebody. Yeah, some of the behaviour he mentions is really not OK, like the racial slurs, but…he seems to have been one of the worst offenders himself, yet is threatening others with their jobs, when some of them seem to have done far more minor things than he did.

    And he seems to want them to apologise to him.

    1. Tea Rose*

      And he apologized for his behavior and admitted it was not befitting of the firm’s president. So he practices what he preaches.

    2. PsychNurse*

      I didn’t even register that! I’m dying. You’re right. He says that shots are never acceptable in a business setting and then slips in that he punched someone.

  23. Willow Sunstar*

    The place where I work had a holiday party today, in person, with a free lunch. This despite a forecast for a major winter storm in the evening. Sadly, there was no open bar. We have a “no alcohol on the premises” rule.

  24. L'étrangère*

    I was trapped in one of those cruises when I was young and naive. Never again have I gone on a cruise with a work party, or anywhere where I could not slip off discreetly when things started to degenerate..

    1. allathian*

      I wasn’t young and naive… I’ve attended our cruise holiday party once, and that was once too many. I really don’t want to see my coworkers drunk enough that they can’t walk straight, even if there was a storm with a 50 mph wind and the ship was swaying and rolling with it. At least one coworker claimed he vomited because he was seasick and not because he was drunk, but he was definitely drunk so he may have been both.

      They had another cruise holiday party this year, and I was happy to skip it. Thankfully we don’t get any pushback if we skip the holiday party, even if we do it every year.

  25. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

    That must have been one TRULY EPIC boat party. It will forever live in infamy at your company.

  26. eeeek*

    Had I read this a few years ago, I would have said, “Oh, golly, no! That just seems…extreme!”
    Until I was responsible for the annual dinner event at a swanky location, for members of a Committee That Does a LOT of Work, where partners were invited to join in our thanks for their service. A few days after a particular event, I was called on carpet to face a bill that was…remarkable. Generally, there was a budget, where the excess budgeted by policy was generously covered by donors…but this was…extra. It was the only time in 20 years of doing this that the bar tab exceeded the food tab of sit-down dinner for 40 people. When drilled down, the excess cost was attributable to one guest. That individual’s rate of consumption greatly exceeded the generously estimated per-person allocation (quantity), and also – because he bullied (we later learned) the ‘tender to pour the Good Stuff- it exceeded the budgeted cost (quality). ooof.
    We reached out to the partner of the guest, who essentially shrugged and said, “whaddaya gonna do? he was my date; he has a hollow leg (and was probably pouring his drinks into a flask). Ya gonna come after ME for his tab? I’m a lowly hourly rate appointee on this committee – I’m going to blow you off, because you don’t pay me enough…and I’m happy to make a stink about it.”
    So, two bullies in the mix.
    We changed things after that. (One trial learning works.) Strict limits on what’s poured, and how much. But we actually haven’t had that event since the plague, and may never have it again, at all.
    I’m a little sad, actually – it was a fun thing, and one of the small rewards for my own work, coordinating the committee…ah, well. Maybe next year (with boundaries).

  27. AceyAceyAcey*

    I wonder how many people got fired because they were blackout drunk and don’t remember what they did that this boss thinks they need to apologize for.

  28. Belle of the Midwest*

    If you ever publish a book of “Epic Office Holiday Party Stories” you definitely need to include this one. It is absolutely timeless and I laugh over it as loudly as I did the first time it was submitte!

  29. New Senior Mgr*

    Classic, right up there with cheap ass rolls and the magician/teacher with his date for the Christmas party. Hilarious!

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