My husband and I worked for the same company before we retired. It is not only one of the largest employers in our city; it is also a major sponsor of a number of charitable and civic organizations.
Over the years, we have been invited to attend numerous events as company representatives. Neither one of us was high up on the corporate food chain, but when the company “bought” a table at an event and needed to fill seats, they could always rely on us to say “YES!” Not only were we enthusiastic, we didn’t need much advanced notice; he owns a tux, I have a few fancy dresses of various lengths, and we didn’t need to hire a baby sitter.
As surrogate “important people,” we’ve been fortunate to attend some really fun parties; most involved good food and wine and, if we were lucky, a band and a big dance floor. I thought it surprising that the company had a difficult time finding attendees but I realized not everyone had our flexibility or the same idea of fun. We, on the other hand, were usually ready, willing and able to fill in when asked.
One of my favorite events is a major fundraiser in support of a local hospice program. The annual gala is held at a local resort hotel and consists of a silent auction/reception, sit-down dinner, and dancing. The following day, attendees are treated to a regatta on the bay aboard a number of personal yachts donated for the day. We’ve been invited to attend six or seven times and have always enjoyed ourselves immensely.
The fundraiser is in mid-August… for the first time in many years we have not been invited.
I’m not terribly surprised that these invitations will disappear now that we no longer work for the company, but I admit a sense of loss and regret. Yes, of course we could actually pay for our tickets, but most of these benefits have quite a high per-person price-tag, a cost that isn’t in our retirement budget.
Because we’d still like to enjoy the good life without actually paying for it, I am exploring the idea of starting second careers as professional event attendees. We’ve got a lot to offer and we won’t ask for anything in compensation beyond the cost of admission and, of course, the food, wine and festivities that go with it.
- Last minute need to fill seats? Our closets contain a selection of clothes for a variety of occasions. With little notice we can dress up for a formal occasion, dress down for a barbeque, or anything in between.
- Worried that some guests might be shy and feel left out? We can make pleasant conversation with anyone. We know a little about a wide range of subjects, and we will strictly avoid the topics of religion and politics.
- Want to assure the band isn’t playing to an empty dance floor? We can “break the ice” by being the first ones out. We are decent dancers but not so good that we’d discourage other couples from joining us on the floor.
- Need someone to start the bidding at an auction or to deliver the first “impromptu” tribute for a guest of honor? Just tell us what needs to be done and we can start the ball rolling.
- Party over, need people to leave? We can subtly yet firmly encourage guests to pack up and go home. We can do it seamlessly and without anyone catching on.
My husband and I can dress well enough to blend in, but not so well that we stand out. We can guarantee that our pictures won’t appear in the society columns.
No worries about us eating or drinking too much. We won’t crowd the buffet table or embarrass our hosts employers by heaping mounds of food on our plates. We also won’t run up the bar bill excessively and make fools of ourselves by over-imbibing.
We are, after all, professionals.
Although my husband and I donate regularly to a number of favorite non-profits and charities, usually the most we get in return is a sheet of pre-printed address labels or maybe a tote bag. Being professional attendees will give us the opportunity to enjoy the same events as do those who give big and who regularly eat and drink better than we do.
I think it could work. I’m going to contact our former company’s corporate giving department to let them know we are available for hire. Maybe there’s still time to get tickets to the August fundraiser.