This was touched on in the comments from the post a couple days ago about the Toddlers & Tiaras/Barbizon Modeling style of the Christy Awards. (Pay to enter; pay more if you win.)
In the comments there an author brought up that a small press (which I only later found out was the small press of some of the commenters) where it was suggested by someone and later agreed upon that they should enter the awards and split the fees between the authors if anybody won. I was rankled by that notion but it wasn’t just because I think that publicity is the domain of the publisher and not the author. I’ve since read that small press’ information page and they are open about giving larger royalties but NOT paying for publicity. So the authors know that going into it.
What still rankles me is just that mechanism of Office Money Pool that I’ve ALWAYS hated and will always hate.
It happens in nearly every workplace; it happened in every workplace I’ve been as an adult. There’s a baby shower or a death in the family or something else remotely gift-worthy and so the hat is passed. That’s not always so bad, as most people want to give something if they can at all.
The problem comes when, well let’s say somebody’s best friend is having a baby. It goes something like this:
“Guys, I know that Lynndie really wants the Megawonder Stroller. I went ahead and picked one up at Nieman Marcus. Since it’s $300 and there are six of us I figure that’s $50 apiece.”
That’s the problem. Whenever there’s a set price and someone thinks that it’s completely fair to divide the set price between all the bodies. Managers who make six-figures are to chip in the same as assistants who make $20k a year. It’s communist collection practices without the communist payscale! And it’s made extra fun because it’s in an environment where it is extremely unconfortable and possibly damaging to one’s career to say no. How do you say no to the department manager due to give you a personnel review in a week when it’s her idea and her best friend? How do you explain that $50 (or the infinitely more common amount of $25/$30 in my personal experience) is your grocery money for the entire week and you simply can’t pay it?
I know that I’ve written about this before and I’m sorry for the broken-record nature of bringing it up again. Maybe I’m turning into one of those old women who has two stories they tell on every occasion. But it just stuck in my head loudly when I was reading those comments. I don’t know the ins and outs of the arrangement at the small press in question. Perhaps every single person on the team was chomping at the bit to pay a fraction of the $1000 that their co-author owes in exchange for his book having won the prize. Perhaps there is no one there who is shy and retiring and feels that even though they’re broke as dirt it is easier for them to pay up than to discuss their financial situation with others. I honestly don’t know.
Regardless, I will say–kicking and screaming–till my dying day that any gift contribution should be wholly voluntary with the amount given to be decided by the giver.
And while we’re at it, none of this going to a restaurant in a group, everyone ordering what ever they want and then splitting the bill evenly. Those of us who can’t enjoy an alcoholic drink (that’s okay, I have legal opiates) and order a sandwich really love underwriting steaks and scotch.