And it goes something like this…
Mrs ‘Needs-her-head-checked’ offers to organise a joint gift for a teacher who is leaving (or a friend). She’s fond of the teacher (or friend) and thinks that by joining forces, the group can get something really special.
- A Group is formed. She starts by setting up a Whatsapp group of twenty or more names. Mrs Needs-her-head-checked has to chase up phone numbers for people who are not in her contacts list in order to add them to the Whatsapp group. This takes a bit of time and texting.
- How much? After canvassing friends off-group, an amount of money per contribution is suggested. Still, Mrs Needs-her-head-checked agonises over whether she has suggested the correct amount. Too much? (will everyone complain?) Too little? (too mean?). The group chat falls silent after an amount is proposed by the admin on-group. Though the amount seems to have been tacitly accepted, receivers of the message will suck their teeth. Group acquaintances will discuss the suggested amount when they bump into each other at the school car park.
- Gift Suggestions. Next, Mrs Needs-her-head-checked asks the group for gift suggestions (it would be much easier for her to just go out and select a gift, but in the interests of democracy, she feels she must ask). The chat goes wild. Notifications are pinging across the neighbourhood. X sees an opportunity and suggests a gift that happens to for sale at her very own shop (no discount). Y has a shop but doesn’t offer anything from it because she thinks it’s far too cheeky to be using this forum for a hard sell.
- What about something ‘Personal’. Z rubbishes suggestions made so far by coming up with a fruitless suggestion such as; ‘The teacher works so hard. Wouldn’t it be nice to get something that is personalised or specially made?’ Everybody ‘on group’ agrees this is a good idea. However, this is neither a helpful nor a practical suggestion as it would involve far more time and effort for Mrs Needs-her-head-checked to organise than a straightforward gift.
- Differing opinions. Suddenly a lot more people have ideas for gifts that involve more work than just buying something in a shop. The suggestions are also far beyond the reach of the budget. What about a holiday? A day out? An engraved decanter? An inscribed statue? This list goes on. Meanwhile, Mrs Needs-her-head-checked is wondering what the hell she has gotten herself into. Slightly losing her rag now and feeling punchy, she throws out a message that reads; ‘happy to collect the cash but for those who want to organise a personalised gift, please go ahead.’ Funnily enough, the chat falls silent for a couple of days. Why? Because when it comes down to it, everyone would far rather that Mrs Needs-her-head-checked organise the gift. Nobody else can be arsed.
- Show me the money. Some of the group change the subject by saying they will pay using mobile money. Others who don’t understand mobile money offer to pay cash ‘when I next see you’. Mrs Needs-her-head-checked prefers mobile money as this is her best bet at actually receiving the cash. The last thing she wants to do is run around the school playground chasing up payments from people who aren’t necessarily her friends. “Oh didn’t I pay you? So sorry, thought I had. Sadly I don’t actually have the cash on me at the moment…”
- Payments dribble in and Mrs Needs-her-head-checked starts ticking names off a list. Some payments come in from husbands of members of the Whatsapp group, or friends of people who are supposed to be paying, others hold mobile money accounts under different names and/or phone numbers, which makes life (and reconciling the check list) confusing.
- Need to buy something now. Once a certain amount has been collected, conversation turns once again to a suitable gift. Mrs Needs-her-head-checked appeals to a friend off-group to help her choose something since the group is being less than helpful and the opinions on-group have spun out of control.
- A gift is bought. Mrs Needs-her-head-checked forgot to factor in the cost of wrapping and a card into the budget but can’t face getting back on the group to ask for additional payment (or suggestions). Getting the card signed by 20+ people is another whole world of pain.
- Out of pocket. Mrs Needs-her-head-checked ends up throwing in extra cash for wrapping, the card, plus she’s forced to sub cash for anyone who didn’t manage to pay (even though non-payers invariably happily claim credit for the gift). No body cares very much anyway because all this will be forgotten by next week (except by Mrs Needs-her-head-checked).
Moral of the story? When somebody else offers to organise a gift via Whatsapp, jump at it. #keepingitreal #jussayinitlikeitis
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