“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.’”

Read an update as well. 

{ 102 comments… read them below }

  1. cardigarden*

    For a hot second I thought this was going to have an update and I got really excited. Did he confront them by Wednesday????

    1. Phony Genius*

      The OP commented in both the original post and the repost that people apologized. They did not specify if anybody was confronted on Wednesday (or any other day).

      1. Juicebox Hero*

        There were probably people apologizing who hadn’t even done anything wrong, just to protect their jobs and not be confronted by Wednesday.

        1. Quill*

          I mean, anyone who did not “take in the full range of events” probably wasn’t in the office apologizing but I’m guessing between the alcohol and the fact that boss may not have a clear recollection of all the events, most people who were there by the time it made it to a shitshow would want to smooth things over.

          1. PeterM*

            If I’d left before everything kicked off I would make a point of going around the office and telling everyone “I’m really sorry I missed everything, it sounds like you guys went all out.”

    2. Iconic Bloomingdale*

      OMG! Me too. I thought there was going to be an update to this. Did anyone sheepishly report to his office on Monday or Tuesday with their apologies? Did the president actually confront anyone by Wednesday? If so, did he fire them? Were spouses banned from future parties? Inquiring minds want to know…

      In any case, this one is a classic and it never fails to inspire laughter in me.

    3. Hlao-roo*

      There is an update! The title is update: “I will confront you by Wednesday of this week” and it was posted on December 14, 2021. Link in reply to this comment.

          1. Charlotte Lucas*

            But it does answer my question about how the boss would know who to confront by Wednesday.

        1. Orv*

          I’m glad that clarified how LW left early, because I’d been wondering. Although I did like the mental image I had of them quietly stealing away in a lifeboat while the party erupted into chaos behind them.

    1. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Highly depends. There were a few shots that I knew of at mine last weekend. I also left early but to my knowledge there were no disasters. But in general, no shots is a safe rule.

    2. Sled Dog Mama*

      Definitely were at one of my previous companies as long as they were “on your own time and own dime.” i.e. after the head honcho left the restaurant.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Yes; at the few parties I’ve been to with the company picking up the bar tab, the rule was we pay for the first two drinks, then you’re on your own, and shots be upon your own head.

    3. TeenieBopper*

      I reject the idea that shots are ever not okay with an open bar. It’s either an open bar or it’s not.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.

        On the other hand, I have never been to a work-sponsored holiday party that included alcohol.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          Everywhere I’ve worked, the chaos has been caused by people who were stone cold sober.

          1. Michelle Smith*

            And I’ve been to office holiday parties where people blacked out and one where a grown man had to be taken to the hospital in an ambulance for alcohol poisoning. Any type of excessive drinking has no place at a work event, regardless of anecdotal experiences of sober people also causing issues.

        2. TeenieBopper*

          I said what I said.

          Discretion is the better part of valor and all that. I’m 40 years old and well past my prime drinking years and in my head “open bar” is still synonomous with “oh christ, shots are getting done at some point tonight.” I dunno, if you don’t want people to do something, don’t give them the tools to do it ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

          1. Charlotte Lucas*

            I think you can have an open bar without shots (just tell the bartenders to only serve wine and beer and maybe mixed drinks). Whether people are going to do shots depends on a lot of factors.

            I completely understand that there are some industries where doing shots at a work party isn’t out of the question. But I also understand that you reap what you sow.

            That being said, I am of the philosophy that I would order a very high-end liquor. Shots are for people too young to appreciate or afford a good sipping whiskey, etc. (And this has been my attitude since I was in my 20s.)

          2. CommanderBanana*

            ^^ Agree. Even with an ‘open bar’ you can try to institute some change over the chaos by doing things like having only beer and wine, or do drink tickets to limit what you can order before you have to start paying, or something. Have the party during the day and don’t allow plus-ones. But expecting that people will not order shots at an open bar that has shots available is just naïve.

            After all, we’ve established that some people can’t control themselves when it comes to things like free pizza or bagels, so I wouldn’t expect those people to exert any self-control around free alcohol either.

            1. Banana Pyjamas*

              My husband’s work does two tickets. They can get whatever they want with those two tickets, but that’s the only free drinks they get.

      2. Where’s The Orchestra?*

        I really think this one is very selective – you have to know the whole group that is coming very, very well for shots on the company dime to be okay.

        The group at this company was not that “can handle open bar and shots” group. But a group that does one round of shots and stops could handle shots at a work party.

    4. MechE31*

      I went to a company party where the company provided an ice luge to take shots. It was carved into a company themed shape. The first person to take a shot was the company president. Said president also walked around pouring champagne in employees mouths.

      After 6 hours of open bar, the party then moved to a local gentlemen’s club. There were some not work appropriate stories about employee behavior that started there.

      At the time, company was about 2000 people and valued in the billions. It’s now much bigger.

  2. ConstantlyComic*

    I wanna know what the boss was doing that someone ended up “retaliating” by groping his wife

      1. Be Gneiss*

        trying to imagine a scenario where the way you retaliate for racial slurs is by groping the offending party’s spouse, and honestly that’s the AAM fan-fiction we deserve.

      2. Zoe Karvounopsina*

        I think it was clarified in the update that the racial slurs were directed to the boss’s son-in-law by a spouse, and were one of the reasons for the paragraph about exerting control over your spouse if you bring them to a company Christmas party.

    1. Eeyore's Missing Tale*

      I think I remember someone saying the open bar firm’s president started cutting people from the other group off. But, it’s been a hot minute since last read the comments this awesome story.

    2. Ama*

      In the update the OP clarifies that it was not actually an employee or spouse, but the friend of an employee who happened to also be on the party boat, and who apparently drank a lot on the company’s open bar.

    3. Irish Teacher*

      From the update, it sounds like other people gave a very different account of the groping than the boss did. The LW said according to other people who were there, the boss’s wife was dancing somewhat explicitly with the person the boss punched and according to them, it appeared to be consensual rather than what most of us would assume by groping (though of course, the boss does presumably know his wife so perhaps he realised she was uncomfortable even if others didn’t).

    1. Irish Teacher.*

      The bit that gets me is the “I myself am guilty of attacking…” because he is being so self-righteous and disapproving and then casually admits that he participated in the mayhem he is so scandalised by. It kind of changes the situation a bit.

      1. ConstantlyComic*

        And mentioning that the person he attacked was “retaliating” for something, which means he had already committed another offense!

      2. bamcheeks*

        I ALWAYS lose it at that point. “This party got so out of hand that I punched someone, which is definitely someone else’s fault and not mine!”

  3. SheLooksFamiliar*

    Re-reading this letter could become a holiday tradition I truly look forward to, even if we never find out if confrontation took place on Wednesday – or any day.

  4. SpaceySteph*

    There’s a really easy way not to have shots served at your holiday party. And that’s to tell the bartender not to serve shots.

  5. Sled Dog Mama*

    I just went back and re-read the original post and found this gem from NotSoNewReader in the comments:

    Dear Alison, I am a company CEO. I threw an employee’s Christmas party and there was an unusual chain of events….”

    Dear CEO, When alcohol is free-flowing there is no such thing as UNUSUAL.

    I feel like this may be one of the best descriptions of this letter ever.

  6. Juicebox Hero*

    If I was this letter writer, I’d be simultaneously so happy that I’d left early and so dissappointed that I’d missed the insanity. Being one of the few sober witnesses to staggering drunk debauchery isn’t exactly fun, but it is memorable.

    Like a former coworker’s birthday at a local bar. I drank one beer and ate a full meal. Another coworker ate nothing and drank much, including several shots and ended up plonking herself in the lap of a 20-something police officer and wouldn’t get off of him. There were two others in the party who either had just one drink or no drinks and we all just kept looking WTF looks at each other.

    The drunk coworker also kept insisting on driving me home as I didn’t have a car at the time. I lied and said my mother was coming to get me (to be fair, she would have) and waited until Drinky McDrinksalot left before bumming a ride with one of the nondrinkers.

  7. RVA Cat*

    Anyone else curious what the person from the other group did that was “lewd and offensive”? I’m thinking tequila-induced nudity.

    1. Bronze Betty*

      I was thinking along the lines of lap-dancing, but really, either would match that description.

      1. RVA Cat*

        Of course I had to rewatch the Christmas party scene from Jarhead for, um, research purposes. (Jake Gyllenhaal jingling his Hannukah balls in a Santa g-string.)

  8. Have you had enough water today?*

    I am disappointed that there has been no update on this. Did people apologise? Was anyone fired? What was the gossip?

  9. Brain the Brian*

    One wonders whether the Firm provided any cheap-ass rolls to soak up the alcohol. One doubts it.

  10. Beveled Edge*

    Still surprised that the employee with the racist spouse wasn’t fired. But maybe he would have been really hard to replace.

    1. WoodswomanWrites*

      The person who made the racist comment was not an employee. They were a friend of an employee, who just happened to be there with one of the other groups on the boat that night.

  11. Mrs. Hawiggins*

    It’s officially the holiday season.
    This letter is a small part of why Mr. Tudball and I drop in, have 1 drink (if that) eat, dance a couple dances and leave. I do not want to be confronted on Wednesday. I’ve had many coworkers whose positions didn’t make it that long because of their antics. Drunk mind sober mouth, as they say.

    That reminds me I need to put cheap ass rolls on the grocery list for dinner.

  12. Media Hack*

    What’s the harbinger of the holiday season?

    No, it’s not first Christmas display at the mall (which goes up in, what, July?), nor the first hearing of Mariah Carey (also now in July).

    No, the TRUE sign that the holidays are nigh is this post. (Just as you know it’s getting close to Halloween when someone says “It’s decorative gourd season, MF!”)

  13. Baron*

    The part that gets funnier every year is how the boss uses the word “confront” in a completely different (and weird) context earlier in the letter. Like he’s got confrontation on the brain.

    1. CommanderBanana*

      I’m imagining him materializing in someone’s office at 4:59 on Wednesday and slapping them with a glove, then demanding satisfaction. PISTOLS AT DAWN I say.

  14. Hex*

    Incredible as always. I’m glad OP clarified that they could leave early because the boat docked after an hour; I was also wondering how anyone was supposed to take their spouses home when the party is out on the water!

  15. Teapot Translator*

    I want a fictional mashup of this story and the one whose “date” started playing mournfully at the piano. You know the one.

  16. La Triviata*

    This, and the cheap-ass rolls, as well as some other phrases used has expanded my office vocabulary.

  17. No no no all the way home*

    I predict that, long after this company president has passed away, his message will live on. How delightful that his words will live on to entertain generations of Internet users.

  18. goddessoftransitory*

    “…let it be said that the root cause was probably due to an open bar” really sums up a lot of life, doesn’t it?

  19. anononon*

    You know that thing where if you say a totally benign word over and over it becomes hilariously funny? In the context of this letter that word is ‘spouse’.

  20. Expartyboatfan*

    I worked for a company in my last teens that hosted their holiday party on a boat. It went out on the river for about 2+ hours. My boyfriend (now husband) and I stayed on the top deck and the bar was below. We didn’t drink and just stayed on the top deck and enjoyed the beautiful river at night. The party below became so wild with the open bar that at one point we became a bit afraid. The yelling, carrying on, and the thought of someone falling overboard was too much – I was never so glad to get back to land! The company never offered a party like this again.

  21. Echo*

    I go to my partner’s firm’s holiday party every year and there’s an open bar and no problems. Meanwhile, my own company will never have a holiday party again thanks to antics like in this story. I always wonder what it is that makes it problematic at some companies and not at others! Maybe it’s whether or not the bartenders are pouring with a heavy hand…

    1. Angstrom*

      I suspect it’s setting the expectations and tone from the top down that it is a WORK party and not a work PARTY.

  22. knitcrazybooknut*

    I’m confused every time I read this letter: Why does the author think that the container used to drink the alcohol (shots) was the cause, instead of the amount of alcohol consumed?! Hilarious.

    1. Slow Gin Lizz*

      I think the idea is that it’s rare to find anyone drinking shots for any reason other than to get alcohol into their system as quickly as possible. And presumably these shots were being downed by a group of people all at once, which does seem more appropriate for a frat party than for a work event. Can someone get equally drunk via wine, beer, or mixed drinks as someone else who is only drinking shots? Absolutely, but it really is about the image of shots and how they are consumed quickly vs the majority of other alcoholic beverages which are often consumed because someone likes the way they taste.

  23. Cookingcutie11*

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

    I’m wheezing as I reread this line again and again. I wish someone had a video of what went on that night.

  24. Slow Gin Lizz*

    Somehow I completely forgot that it was the *boss* who was doing the confronting. In my head canon I always thought it was an employee threatening another employee. This letter now is even more hilarious than it always seemed in the past!

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