Tuesday, May 15, 2007

How Do You Spell D-I-S-A-S-T-E-R

I have been waiting to write about the Habitat for Humanity fund raising dinner for a while because I thought with time the horror of the night would wear off. I think I am finally ready to write about it, although I still haven’t recovered completely.

First of all, we organized this dinner to raise money for our trip to Romania in July. We need quite a bit of money and we counted on this dinner providing about 10,000 euros. We rented a private room at a Chinese Karaoke restaurant and planned on selling 120 tickets at 50 euros a seat, providing entertainment from around the world (with yours truly as the m.c.) and having a silent auction. We had to pay 30 euros a seat, so that was a 20 euro profit on each ticket. We also planned on making about 7000 on the auction and donantions.

First thing that went wrong: we only sold about 40 tickets (remember this part as it will be important later). So right off the bat, we came up 1600 short of our initial projection.

Despite the negative beginning, everyone soldiered on and put more effort into getting really cool stuff to auction (thanks to everyone who sent stuff!). We had all sorts of neat items, including a week sailing trip off the coast of Nice. We figured we could easily make about 6000 on the auction stuff because we had such great items donated.

For the entertainment we had African dancing, a French band, a saxophonist, and a guitar soloist. The saxophonist and the French band were my contacts; the saxophonist is a friend and the band members were my students. I felt really strange about asking my students to perform, but in the end, we were too desperate not ask them, because my saxophonist ended up not being able to come because of confusion over the dates.

The day of the dinner, I arrived at the restaurant about 30 minutes late. When I walked in, everyone was oddly quiet and I thought they were upset because I was so late. We really didn’t have time to chat because we had to start setting things up.

The guitarist showed up drunk (no, I am not kidding). He could barely walk straight. I thought, “Great, a nice kink in our plans.” I finagled the program around and placed him last so he would have time to sober up.

About 30 minutes later, my students showed up carrying their amps and instruments. As soon as they walked in, the wait staff started freaking out and yelling. Apparently, since we didn’t sell all the tickets for the seats, the room was no longer private and we couldn’t have live entertainment because it would disturb the other patrons!

Nobody thought to double check with the restaurant about the entertainment. I almost started crying because, in the first place, I felt strange about asking my students to perform and secondly, because they drove so far for no reason. What’s worse, everyone had found out that night before I arrived, but nobody bothered to tell me. Nobody!

I wish this was the end of the sad tale, but it gets worse. Since the room was no longer private, the karaoke machine was brought out in all its glory. I don’t know if you have ever had to listen to Chinese karaoke for any length of time, but let me tell you, it isn’t nice. Not only did it continue non-stop for 4 hours, it was also at a volume that made my ears bleed. Conversation was impossible. My speech that I stressed and worked on for days was quickly scrapped.

Next disaster: for some reason, some of the people who sold tickets failed to tell the people they sold the tickets to what the menu would include. It was seven courses, five of which consisted of some type of seafood. Three of the 10 people at my table were allergic to seafood so that means we had at least three, probably more, really unhappy people.

Final disaster of the evening: the auction only made us about 3000 euros. The nail in the coffin.

After it was all said and done, I tried to look on the bright side of things, but being delusional or optimistic or delusionally optimistic or optimistically delusional is not really my style.


cara said...

having had the privilige of hearing chinese karaoke, i do truly feel bad for you and your guests. honestly, i can think of few things that sound worse. and that, on top of everything else...oh what a night. hopefully you guys have a back up plan for raising the rest of the funds?

Geggie said...

Eek! But, on the upside, you're what...4500E closer to your goal?

Pam said...

oh, Angela, I am so sorry! You worked diligently, very passionately on this...and the outcome feels like a big punch in the gut. ouch.

Please remember that YOU did GREAT THINGS in your planning, efforts and organising for this event.

Diamond Lil said...

Oy vey, you poor thing! You still did a good thing and hopefully karma will play out in your favor.

hellomelissa said...

oh, goodness. that's simply horrible. i'm so sorry it ended up so... wrong. wish i could have been there to fill a seat.

Pardon My French said...

Holy moly, what a story. I hope one day soon you'll be able to say "Chinese Karaoke" and giggle a little to yourself. I'm sorry to hear that things didn't go as well as planned, because it sounded pretty kick-butt. That's really a shame that no one told you beforehand about the loss of the private room, though. I'm with Pam that you did great things and most if not all of the stuff was beyond your control. Don't give up.

Lotus Reads said...

Oh dear, I'm so sorry Angela, especially since you put so much time and effort into the planning. I guess there is a lesson to be learned from every disaster...that's the only way to look at it.

blueVicar said...

This is a sad story...as some are, I fear. It doesn't seem right that deeds of good purpose result in such disappointment. You worked hard and it didn't pan out; sometimes it doesn't. But it sounds like your heart was in the right place...and you did end up with something to contribute to your cause, yes? You didn't lose money on effort. That's the most important thing. The rest will eventually fade...

Meilleurs voeux!!

Sebastien Blache said...

How are you?
Looking forward to seeing you soon!
By the way, remembering this event at the Chinese, at least for once, it's not the French that literally spoil the party!
A (delusionally) optimistic statement.

cityfarmer said...

missin ya

carra said...

That was some disaster wasn't it! All I can say is: Have you collected the rest of the target money yet?

gmcountrymama said...

I am here throught Hello Melissa.
That was a wonderful thing you were trying to do. Sorry it turned out so badly.
I hope you can laugh about it now, surely at the Chinese karaoke...