On Organizing Events

I hate organizing events. I think if I was in a job interview where they ask you that question, “What’s your biggest weakness?” my new answer would be “Organizing a successful event.”

It’s not any one event that led me to this; it’s more the ongoing experience of attempting to organize events that’s brought it on. A long history of non-success. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Housewarming parties.
  • General gatherings of friends.
  • Birthday parties.
  • Fireworks crews.
  • Online gaming.
  • Vacations.

From this point on, you’re free to abandon ship because I know most of this will probably end up coming across as “poor me” and fairly rant-ish. It just is what it is, though, and if folks are wondering why I’m pretty much giving up on organizing or coordinating… well, anything… then feel free to continue.

I think my primary issue is that people generally have an inability to commit. Regardless of how early you give notice, and regardless of how important it is that you get some level of firm commitment on attendance (or not, as the case may be), people have a reluctance to commit and somehow “lock their schedule down” until the very last moment. Jenn and I found this with our wedding and it’s pretty much the exact reason I didn’t do a fireworks show this year. Some events actually do need a level of commitment and are not on par with “let’s get whoever feels like it together for some beers next Saturday” where it really doesn’t matter if you commit (or show up).

I’m not sure how this came about. I’ve always been the kind of person who will actually be where they say they will be. I find that to be less and less a common quality with folks, which is unfortunate. (I find punctuality is a generally waning quality in people, too, which is equally unfortunate.)

I also find there are some folks who always have perfectly legitimate reasons for not making it time after time. For example, there are some folks who always say they’ll be part of the fireworks crew on the 4th, but then come back with something entirely legitimate which removes their ability to make it. A relative is sick; there was a production problem at work; we forgot and planned our vacation then; there are some relatives in town and we can’t reschedule; and so forth. It’s cool that people have other stuff to do, and every single one of those reasons is 110% legitimate… but, truly, what are the odds, right? Literally every single time there’s something that comes up? (What, you didn’t know the fourth of July was going to be on the fourth of July again this year?) At the very least, it makes me wonder.

There are the folks who can’t do anything without a specific precise itinerary spelled out - when are we meeting, where exactly (including inside/outside the building), how long are we going to be there, what happens after that, how much will it cost, etc. That’s pretty painful when you’re just trying to get a couple of folks together for drinks. It’s not really something you plan out at that level.

Finally, there are the folks who don’t really want a plan (“We’ll figure it out on the fly!”) but then when you agree to just the simplest plan (“Meet at the restaurant tonight at 7:00p”) turn into the people who need the precise itinerary (“Are we meeting in the bar or the seated part of the restaurant? Are we just having drinks or a full meal? Did you want to see a movie after that? Which movie and what time?”). And here I thought there wasn’t going to be a detailed plan.

And, as any parent will tell you, that all becomes doubly complex when you have kids because now you have to also coordinate what the kid is doing (and possibly a babysitter) around the event, which means if someone says “Meet at 7:00p at the restaurant” and you get everything arranged around that time, it’s pretty painful to have them call up and say, “Oh, yeah, I can’t make it at 7:00p, let’s switch it to 8:00p.” Sorry, buddy, I don’t mean to chisel your schedule into a stone tablet, but it’s not really something I can just “switch up” because it’s not just us anymore.

Anyway, like I said, it all sounds like a big “poor me” rant, but that’s why I’m not coordinating stuff anymore, or, at least, I’ll avoid it wherever possible.