Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Talking Toilet Paper Fiasco

Like most retirement communities there is no tipping allowed to servers, cooks, maintenance people, the people who clean our apartments, the bus driver, or the entertainment coordinator.  In fact, the rule applies to all hourly personnel  who work at our abode.

There is, however, one time of the year set aside for residents to show their appreciation to our staff for the services they perform for us.  For a period of approximately 30 days, tenants and other interested parties (friends, relatives, etc.) are allowed to give money to a fund that will be divided among the non-management staff after it is collected.  The money is collected and dispersed by a resident committee made up of approximately four people.  This year J and Y from Table 54 volunteered as well as D and M.  J was the nominal head of the committee.

Last year the team collected around $1,700.00.  This year, we devised a campaign that would hopefully bring in considerably more cash for our excellent workers.  Y kicked off the drive with a rousing talk about how we should show our appreciation for everything the staff does for us.  J followed up by designing clip-art cartoon posters that reminded residents of the hard-work ethic that each member of our staff possess.  These posters went up tastefully on the walls of the dining room, the elevator, and the hallways of our building with a view to not over-doing it.  A treasure-chest box was placed on the piano where residents could place their contributions during meals.   D collected the money and kept the books.  M took on the responsibility the fixer.  It was her duty to handle all problems that residents might have concerning the way contributions were handled.

The way the fund worked was simple.  People either put money in the chest or a check in the amount of their contribution made out to "Cash."  At the end of the campaign (Sunday, 23 December), the check would be cashed at our local bank and the funds would be divided up by the committee based on seniority and job title.  This was thoroughly explained in our speech to the residents the day the campaign kicked off.

One of the most difficult circumstances to enter into is to ask people to donate money to a charity; even if that charity is to thank people for their hard work and personal assistance over the past year. We ran into a bit of trouble as the campaign kicked off.

One of the residents approached J and told him she would not give a contribution unless the monies would be given only to individuals on the staff who personally served her.  This put us in an impossible position because, over a year, every one of our staff had worked for her even though she couldn't remember who or when.  We could not accept her contribution under her conditions.  The unfortunate circumstance that followed was that this woman started going to other tables in the dining room in an effort to get residents to make the same demands as she did or they would also withhold their contribution.  This could have developed into a major problem.

M went to work immediately with the people this individual spoke to and explained how it would be impossible to give to a select few while ignoring others who worked extremely hard to serve our resident.  The problem died a quick death and the contributions began to roll in.

J developed some new strategies for our campaign.  In order to reach friends and relatives who often dined with our residents, he developed tent cards and placemats that contained ads that explained what we were trying to accomplish in our campaign.  This proved to be highly successful.

No new problems cropped up until the final two weeks of the campaign.  In an effort to inject a bit of humor onto the placemat cartoons, J introduced a "talking roll of toilet paper" that offered the following message:

The majority of our residents understood the humor and laughed but one or two felt the cartoon was inappropriate and went to management.  Fearing telephone calls to home office about the matter, management stopped all placemat advertising and ended our campaign five days short.

No harm, No foul.  Money kept flowing in right up to the original end date so the problem didn't effect the outcome.  In 25 days we managed to accumulate over $3,400 in contributions to our staff - over DOUBLE the amount we paid out last year.  We were ecstatic!

In the end, both the staff and the residents were amazed at the amount we were able to collect.  We thanked the residents for their contributions and gave out the envelops of cash to the staff at a lunch and supper ceremony.  Two weeks later, the staff said thank you to the residents with the following place mat:

   It was a great day for everyone concerned!

- Y

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