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Incidentally . . .

Dan, the Chief Financial Officer, concluded his report," - - - and the total for holiday incidentals was $39,675 which we showed as a seasonal expense to the Food & Beverage Department." He took off his reading glasses and looked up from his spreadsheet.

Todd, the General Manager, scanned the boardroom, "All right. Do I have a motion to accept the financial report?"

Red - faced, John raised his hand, "Open for discussion?"

Todd nodded, "OK, John. But let's try to keep this meeting moving. Do you have a question regarding the financial report?"

John rubbed his chin, "Could I hear a breakdown of the holiday incidentals? Thirty nine some-odd thousand dollars seems like a lot of money to spend on decorations."

Dan nodded, "Well to tell the truth, it wasn't ALL decorationsper se.The holiday incidentals include the cost of the band that played during the New Years Party."
Dan adjusted his glasses and gazed at the spreadsheet on the table, "Let's see. . . the exterior lights and garlands for decorating the parking lot and lobby grounds added up to $15,422. We threw out all of the old Christmas decorations that we had for the inside of the building. Replacing those added up to $8,331. The charges for fresh flowers and poinsettias were $8,155. The cost of the band was $6500. Hats, noisemakers, party favors added up to $1267."

John nodded, "You mentioned that we threw out all the interior decorations and bought new ones. What was that all about?"

Rick, The Dining Room Manager, explained, " Well, all the garlands and the little trees and THINGS were getting just . . . shabby.We've been using the same ones for YEARS and YEARS! It was TIME for something with a little sparkle! We just went out and bought ALL NEW STUFF ! It was so fun to open all those pretty new decorations!And they looked MARVELOUS !So FESTIVE !"

John checked his notes, "Eighty-One-Hundred for fresh flowers and poinsettias?"

Rick grinned, "Oh, Yes! The florist was here many, many times! Sometimes, several times in one day! He was very accommodating!

"I'll bet . . ."

Todd looked at John, "Will that do it for you John?"

John shook his head, "I have one more question"


John looked around the room, " Does anybody else in this room . . . think it is absolutely insane to blow 40 grand on this junk?Am I the only one here who wishes he had that wad of money to spend on SOMETHING IMPORTANT ?"

A collective groan rose from around the table. Some Department Heads nervously checked their watches.

Todd frowned, " John, in the interest of moving this meeting along, I ask that we limit our questions to the subject at hand and not get off - topic. How we spent the money is not the issue on the table. The issue on the table is whether or not you will make a motion to accept Dan's Financial Report."

John looked down and mumbled, " It seems like a big waste of money to me. I have been begging to replace that pump on the "back nine" for more than a year. That would cost only fifteen thousand. You could have given me fifteen thousand for that pump and you STILL would have had twenty-five to waste any way you wanted."

Todd glared at John. "The holiday INCIDENTALS were approved . . ."

Jesse, the Golf Superintendent cleared his throat to interrupt. " . . . I am with John on this one. I've had a tractor out of service for three months because Todd wouldn't sign the purchase requisition to get a new engine block. He told me we just couldn't afford it. Now I see why. That forty thousand would be enough to buy eight or ten of those engine blocks. I sure could use that tractor."

Fred, the Food & Beverage Manager, tapped the table with his right hand, "John, it is not Maintenance money. Jesse, It's not your money. It's F&B money. It's an investment. It takes money to make money. We decorate the Hotel so people will come here and celebrate and have parties and spend money. They won't come here to have parties if the Hotel doesn't look like a party place. It's called ambiance, John. And believe me, ambiance sells food and booze. It wasn't a'waste'as you call it."

John leaned back in his chair and twirled a pencil under his nose. How many did you have for the New Year's Party?"

Fred checked his notes, "226"

John continued, "At what? Fifty bucks a seat?"

Fred nodded, "Yes, $49.95 per person."

John squinted while he made a mental calculation, "So food revenue was a little more than eleven grand. Well, that eleven thousand does a good job covering the cost of the band and the party favors. But something tells me there wasn't a lot of money left over to pay for the food and labor."

Fred shrugged, "No. Actually we took a big bath on the New Year's Party. . . . . But, we sold 700 dinners on Thanksgiving!"

John continued, "How was Christmas?"

Fred shook his head. "Real slow. I think we did 45 dinners off the menu."

John sat straight in his chair, "But all these expensive decorations didn't go up until after Thanksgiving, Right?As I recall, the Thanksgiving decorations were pretty minimal, weren't they?"

Fred looked at the ceiling for a moment, "Yeah, For color, we used whole pumpkins and squashes that we had left-over from Halloween. There was a cornucopia basket by the entry. Turkey table tents. An ice sculpture shaped like a pilgrim. Nice. Real Nice."

John leaned forward and clasped his hands together. "Let me get this straight. You say ambiance sells food. So, you had forty grand worth of ambiance for Christmas and New Years but you lost your shirt. You had almost no ambiance for Thanksgiving but somehow sold 700 dinners. Is that about right? Have I got my numbers straight? You say you 'invested' forty thousand. Well, I say you flushed forty thousand down the drain. "

Fred looked down and coughed.

John pressed the issue, "I'm all in favor of little turkey table tents and left-over squashes. And the Ice Pilgrim idea is fantastic! Just think!A few leftovers and a little frozen water created enough 'ambiance' to sell 700 dinners . . . "

Todd took control, "ENOUGH ! Motion to approve?"

John nodded, "OK Todd.I 'll make a motion to approve the financial report as it was read."

A collective sigh of relief arose from around the table. All Department Heads anxiously checked their watches while mentally estimating the time left until the end of the meeting.

In the hallway near the mailboxes, Jesse caught John as he passed. "Hey John. Have you calmed down since the Staff Meeting?"

John stopped and leaned against the wall. "Yes, Jesse. I'm fine."

Jesse smiled, "More than once in the past month, I have overheard you comment that Rick had done a beautiful job with the holiday decorations. So, I was a little surprised that you turned into Mr. Scrooge at the meeting."

John shrugged, "I guess I got a little carried away. Sometimes, I get too involved. Sometimes, I have to remember to stand back and tell myself it is not MY money. "

Jesse paged through the mail in his hand. He pulled a triplicate form from the stack and waved it in front of John. "I don't know, John. It looks like you struck a nerve. Here is the requisition I wrote three months ago for that tractor long-block. Looks like Todd signed it this morning! I can finally get that tractor going again."

John jumped across the hallway to check his mail slot. "And, here's a signed purchase order for a brand new pump to replace the one on the "back nine". Signed by Todd today. I've been begging for more than a year to replace that pump."

Jesse sorted his mail as he turned to walk back to his office, "Well, congratulations on finally getting your new pump, John!I'll see you later. Right now, I've got to get started fixing a tractor."

"Just tell me, Jesse", John winked, "Don't you think that the holiday decorations were exceptionally beautiful this year?"



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