Once upon a time (at a company definitely not the one I’m working at now) there was an administrative assistant who thought that the group she worked in was not giving enough. So one holiday season she set up a “giving box” in the lobby, and put a sign on it saying that the box was for donations of toys. The idea was that you would buy a new toy, put it in the box, and the box would be sent to some place with lots of kids who didn’t have toys.
Whatever her perception, this group was already pretty full “about up to here” with giving requests. So several days went by, and when she checked there were no toys in the box. So she sent email to the department, she had managers remind their employees about the box, and she put up flyers in the hallways and in the break rooms. Meetings in the group typically began with a written agenda on a whiteboard, and soon the toy box was discussed first in nearly every meeting.
A week went by. No toys. Soon everyone was being inundated with memos, stickies left on monitors, and random button-holings about the toy box. And there was resentment.
Indeed, at the end of two weeks, the box contained a single toy: A rubber chicken.
“She’s really upset,” said one manager, drying a tear from an eye.
A year went by, and the admin tried again, this time with a gaudier box, and even more publicity and pushyness.
I heard the next part from that manager: At the end of two weeks, the box contained the very same rubber chicken (which had apparently not been donated to a kid who didn’t have a toy, and had been liberated from the group’s storage room), and nothing else.
I do not know what happened after that.