The power outage that struck most of downtown Calgary three weeks ago caused many local residents to forgo their planned Thanksgiving dinners.
This too was true for many of the residents in the condo building where we live and as a member of our condo board I felt it would be a good idea for us to host a Thanksgiving dinner for our residents to make up for missed plans.
For the past few years we have had two social functions each year –a barbecue during Stampede Week and a Christmas dinner party. We ask our residents to register ahead of time so as to enable our caterers to know how much food to prepare.
Over the past several years we’ve noticed an increasing number of people who register for these events but choose not to attend, leaving large amounts of food left over without many options other than to throw it all away.
For this belated Thanksgiving Dinner to we decided to try a new ploy. Our invitations contained a request to register by a certain date and also included a fee of $10 per person.
We are providing a catered full Thanksgiving dinner for those who wish to attend and we felt the $10 fee to be a small cost intended to ensure the attendance of those who register.
Two things have happened which have caused us some surprise.
Typically our social events attract some 120 people out of a population of around 400. For this event only 40 people registered to attend. We can attribute the small number to many factors including the fact that invitations went out only 10 days before the event leaving not much time for schedule changing and that our dinner is being held the day after Halloween.
What really surprised us was the number of people who indicated – some quite strongly – that they would not be attending as they felt the $10 fee was ‘outrageous’.
A few folks informed us that as we had not charged for previous functions we had “no right” to start charging now. We heard from a person who questioned us by stating, “It’s bad enough that you make us pay ridiculously high condo fees and now you want us to pay for a meal?”
We have a few families with young children and we decided that the fee for kids under 10 would be $5.00. My favourite comment came from a man who informed us that, “My daughter is only four years old and because she won’t eat a full plate of food, I should only have to pay $3.00.”
Having served on a condo board for some eight years now, I should be past the point of surprise and yet it seems that each week some new event causes me to wonder whether we as a species have passed the pinnacle of evolution and are now retrogressing at lightning speed.
In the same way the unpleasant experiences we encountered with some – a tiny percentage – of our residents during the recent outage were greatly overshadowed by the overwhelming kindness and offers of help and support from the majority of folks, we talked with many who offered to help with the dinner and expressed their gratitude to us for hosting this event.
We also realized no words exist to change the viewpoints of those who vocally bemoaned the terrible injustice of being asked to contribute a nominal sum and who once again find themselves victimized by a heartless and incompetent condo board.
I have long struggled with those who have a strong sense of entitlement. This great country was built by legions of people who understood that nothing was owed to them and if they wanted something they gave their all to get it.
Among our population there exists a percentage of people – a small percentage – who feel they are owed, and should therefore be given, whatever they want.
Sadly, these folks may never experience the indescribable sense of fulfilment that comes from achievement.
I look forward to having dinner with some 40 of my neighbours this evening. I’m sure we will all enjoy the meal and have a wonderful time.
My guess is that those who could not overcome the $10 hurdle would not have enjoyed the evening anyway. I’m sure they would’ve found the turkey overcooked, the vegetables cold and desserts bland.
And their whine glass will always be half-empty.
Till we read again.