Why i don’t work on committees

Part A: Committees with Women

A friend of mine, KT,  is a member of an engaged group of women living with* breast cancer.  The group does education, outreach, holistic health, nutrition and lifestyle support.  They have one big fundraiser every year, and it is a themed fashion show.  This year, the theme is “Broadway: The Show Must Go On!”

As KT was working with the planning committee, and they ran into trouble thinking of how they could fill a large space with Broadway-related props and decorations.  She remembered my connection to local community theater, and asked if i could assist the decorating committee.

Since it was KT, a woman who humbles me on a daily basis through her strength, compassion and ability to live well, i had to say “Yes”.  i’d take a bullet for her, so working with theater people again shouldn’t pose too large of a problem, right?

Managed to make a few theatrical connections, and get leads on some items that might be useful, and i contacted the three women on the decoration committee.  We arranged to meet up at the facility where the fashion show would be held, so i could get a better idea of the size and layout of the venue.

They were lovely women, and we wasted minimal time getting down to business.  Yes, the size of the venue was going to be a challenge, but they already had an idea of what they wanted, and we were able to quickly agree on the next steps.

From there?  A slight disagreement among committee members regarding the color of the programs.  You see, the color logo would be clashing with the colors of the chosen table decorations, and since the program would be on the table, it was ALSO doing double duty as a table decoration. 

Oh, and there was more discussion regarding the “party favors” – the take home item from the luncheon.  One of the members was lobbying hard for a monogrammed martini glass, which could be used to serve dessert, and the other two were worried about the cost, and were arguing hard for the logo on a refrigerator magnet.  They tried to draw me into the discussion, but i knew better…

Bottom line:  Committees with women get bogged down in the most minute details.  In the end, these things never really matter, but many hours are wasted in endless back-and-forth discussions that are one freakin’ annoying ‘road to nowhere’.

Part B:  Committees with Men

Going away party at work for the beloved, and departing, Division Chief.  His five subordinate Branch Chiefs stepped up to work logistics, agreeing to foot the bill for the Division going away gift, and each one would pay for some aspect of the party.  A rational way to do things, much better than the ol’ “Let’s pass the envelope around the office to collect for a gift for the boss” routine.

i agreed to work with my boss to handle our Branch going away gift (a gag gift and a nice bottle of single malt scotch).  She had included me on the party planning e-mail thread as a result.  The “committee” then consisted of 6 men and 2 women, all enginerds.

JT (my branch chief, the chick):  I got the quote on the Division gift – should be able to do it for what we estimated.  How are logistics coming?

Branch Chief A:  I’m planning to get two cases of regular beer (bottles).  Some Budweiser / Bud Light.  Also, going to pick up some additional six packs of “specialty” brews.

Branch Chief B:  What sort of “specialty”?  Something more special than Sam Adams, please!

Branch Chief C:  Are you getting soda, too?  Not everyone is going to want beer.

Branch Chief B:  Should I bring some chips or something?

JT:  Hey, B!  You and C signed up to bring food.  You haven’t even thought about it yet?

Branch Chief C:  Got it covered.  Ten bags of Cheetos.  No napkins.

Branch Chief B:  Oh, yeah.  Forgot about that.  Weren’t we supposed to do something about a cake, too?

Branch Chief A:  Blue Moon, Leinenkugel Oktoberfest, Guinness and some sort of IPA – haven’t decided which one yet.

Branch Chief C:  Do you want me to bring some of my homebrew?  It’s not the best I’ve made, but it’s passable.

JT:  B and C, you were supposed to cover food, including a cake.  I’ll bring some wings, a veggie tray and maybe a cheese plate.

Bottom line:  Committees with men get bogged down worrying about the beer.  Nothing else will get done unless there are women on the committee.

* “Living with…” as opposed to “Dying from…”.  They all have advanced cancer, and for most it’s a question of “When” not “If” they will die from it…

34 thoughts on “Why i don’t work on committees

    • if it’s a committee of people who work independently toward disliking people? i could sign up for that… now, let’s talk about what kind of beer we’ll bring to the meetings…

  1. but if you have a committee of both men and women, the men are always trying to hit on the women, while asking them to go make coffee…while the women are ‘tsk, tsk’-ing the boorish behavior of men, while fuming over being ignored for their input.

    yeah, i’m saying it’s “no win”… best go back to the days when one person was in charge and everyone else toed the line.

  2. Hilarious and true! I prefer to be a minion when I’m on a committee. I’m really quiet until someone says they need something really easy, like napkins. Then I shoot up my hand, and voila! I’m useful!

  3. BLUE MOON!!! That’s my brew.

    For a second I read the opening too fast and I thought you meant that these women living with breast cancer were all engaged, as in engaged to be married. I thought that was a different sounding group than I’d ever heard before.

    • i likes the Moon, too. the Engaged Cancer Group would be getting pretty specific. i’m not a member, but have enjoyed watching KT and her “sisters” as they navigate tough circumstances. they even have sex toy parties and drum circles…

    • that’s called “The Theater Board”. i’ve quit the local theatre board 3 times. don’t think it’s because the board queen president is a gay man. he’s just a controlling bitch.

      in general, for parties? the Aids Resource Coucil drag ball is the BEST halloween party of the year. suspect there might be a few gay men on that committee… it rocks.

  4. I kind of burned out on Blue Moon. Now I have to lay off for a while.

    This is why Project Managing is such a lucrative career. It’s an impossible task that will keep you at work late and rob you of your sleep. Can you imagine doing it for a living?

    • i go through beer phases, too. Liked Moon, but recently started drinking Red Stripe.

      Project Managing? That’s how i spent a substantial portion of my career. it was painful, after awhile… exciting at first, though. made me feel all powerful to just “get shit done”. that didn’t last…

  5. “A committee is a life form with six or more legs and no brain.” (Robert A. Heinlein)

    “A committee is a group of people who keep minutes but lose hours.” (anonymous)

    Nothing you have written here disproves either definition.

  6. Oh damn, I’ve fallen into the first group. Dealing with (obsessing about) all the little details for my daughters up-coming wedding. Thanks for the reminder that nobody will give a shit about the programs or the placecards – it’s all about the dancing and the alcohol!

    • what i failed to mention is that i do appreciate that someone has gone to the trouble to make a party / wedding “attractive”. with weddings, it’s good to just give the bride and groom the party they want, and try to keep stress to a minimum (although that may not be possible).

      emphasis on food, drink, music, and merriment? if i had it to do over again, that’s pretty much all i’d worry about!

  7. I know far too well what you mean about committees. One of the best descriptions I ever heard of a committee was it was a group that took minutes and wasted hours.

    On a related note (this is related trust me it comes back around in the end) I have developed a New Years Day tradition here in this small town. The owner of the local radio station (member of several broadcaster halls of fame) has a half hour show every weekday morning. He talks with various guests about what is happening in the community. When I came onto the local chamber of commerce board 15 years ago he was President. Starting 10 or so years ago I call into the show on January 1st if it is a weekday.

    I tell the story about a traveling sales man. The salesman sees something quite odd he just has to investigate. He parks his car and walks up into an orchard. He sees a farmer holding a pig up to an apple tree.

    He asks the farmer: “What you doing?”

    The farmer seems puzzled by the question but replies very matter of factly: “I am feeding my pig apples. My pig likes apples.”

    Salesman: “Wouldn’t it save a lot of time if you were to pick the apples and take them to the pig?”

    Farmer: “I suppose. But, what’s time to a pig?”

    Next time you are in one of those mind numbing meetings, I dare you to not think of that line. “What’s time to a pig?”


    • “What’s time to a pig?” A few more moments NOT being bacon, i suppose! point taken, though… when i’m lost in a meeting, all i do is sit and do the math. how much i’m getting paid per minute to sit there and listen. i do it first before tax, then after tax…. always good to keep your math skills sharp!

    • excellent advice! i donate money to bake sales, rather than bake (badly) or buy (fattttttttt!). having the party to plan the party? makes it just a little better, for sure!

  8. The worst committees are church boards. (One of the reasons I’ve followed Flip Wilson’s lead, left organized religion and joined “The Church of What’s Happenin’ Now.”)

    The board members would go over the same stuff, over and over again, and never reach consensus on anything.

    And then there was the mega-bitch member of the committee charged with designing the new kitchen for the church addition. She held the whole proceedings hostage because she had a catering business and wanted everything her way so she could use the kitchen herself. Oy….

    • oy! church committees would melt my brain! i did a momentary stint on the PTO when my eldest started elementary school. quit immediately. same thing… and those parents had WAY more time (and interest) in the endeavors than i ever would…

  9. Just been lurking..
    Love your description of the ladies..
    Really tried to avoid committees when I worked but it was inevitable that I was always chosen to be on them..I have a big mouth but usually pretty good ideas..I was always sent to represent the little people.
    One way to keep in touch with the big Kahunas, if I ever needed anything all I had to do was ask.

    • Good to see you again! Agree that there are times when doing committee service has benefits… i did lots of that early in my career. i only volunteer for something now if i truly wish to have an affect on the outcome… and that’s getting rarer and rarer!

    • They are somewhat snobbish. The only beef with Sam would be that it’s a tasty, reasonably priced beer, available and accessible to the proletariat. Which makes it undesirable in their microbrew-swilling corner of the universe…

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