The Flower Fund


A. J. - December 7, 2009

The Flower Fund….what a wonderful idea! Every office should have one. Can you imagine what a wonderful and caring world it would be when everyone participates in The Flower Fund. The Fund will go beyond our prayers. The Fund will go beyond our sympathies, beyond the hug of encouragement, the warm hand shake, the look of recognition for a shared experience, the offer to help, to talk, to be a friend. The Fund will relieve pain and suffering. The Fund will be physical and tangible evidence that we, as a office, care deeply for the grieving sons and daughters who have lost a parent, the parents who have experienced the sadness of a sick and hospitalized child. The Fund will draw us closer, build us into a better team, affirm our identity as individuals, it’s the right thing to do. The Fund means sacrifice, giving of ourselves, trusting our leaders with our money, trusting our leaders to target those sad situations and make the appropriate appropriations. The Fund is goodness, we can’t live without it. We must act now. Our leadership has challenged us, looked us in the eye, influenced our thinking and lead us to a common goal. The Fund is morally correct, it’s the Christian thing to do, it is the hallmark of charity, everyone wants and does support The Fund.

And so I gave. I gave generously. I gave gladly. I wasn’t the first, but I was in the front of the line. $40 Dollars. I know in my heart that my contribution went the whole nine yards. Well, with my money alone, we, the office, could cover the first tragedy. Just think, there are 40, maybe more people, in the office….If everyone gave half as much as I, well we would be set up for years.

Three weeks later the internal memo came across my desk, via the up close and personal corporate email. The Flower Fund is empty, depleted and bankrupt. The office is in direr need, the office must not fail. The Fund must be replenished. The ideal held high, stay the course, give again, give of yourself, give to our office, so we may give to those who need us, who need to know we are here for them, who have trusted us to be the people we have always aspired to be, to be the provider of last resort. Are you the “go to” guy? Then give, give until it feels good, really good, better than last time, give more, feel better, it’s a win/win for everyone.

And so I gave. I gave generously. I wasn’t the first, but I was in the front of the line. $20 Dollars. I know in my heart that I have done the right thing. My boss said so, my boss wanted it and after all he is my boss.

This time I asked, “with this $20, how much money is in The Fund“. Oh, $80 dollars you say….

Three weeks later the internal memo came across my desk, via the up close and personal corporate email. The Flower Fund is empty, depleted and bankrupt. The office is in direr need, the office must not fail. The Fund must be replenished. The ideal held high, stay the course, give again, give of yourself, give to our office, so we may give to those who need us, who need to know we are here for them, who have trusted us to be the people we have always aspired to be, to be the provider of last resort. Are you the “go to” guy? Then give, give until it feels good, really good, better than last time, give more, feel better, it’s a win/win for everyone.

This time I asked, “did everyone in the office give, how much was collected, who got what, how much did we spend on each person, the same for each, or more for death and less for illness, did some get special cards or candy, flowers to hospital and then more flowers to the funeral home, did some get living plants to be planted, who got the designer vase and why them, did we tip the priest or give to the church, who decided how to spend my money, WHERE DID ALL THE MONEY GO?

Oh sure there was the occasional Thank You card posted in the lunch room, signed by some one I didn’t know, never met. Maybe the sister of the brother who works in the office, whose father had died in some far off place, she must have signed her married name. I never knew. Death, cancer, remove an organ, have a heart attack, all in some recent past, gone unheralded and unnoticed, I never knew. I guess the office is that loving and caring place we always thought it is, I never knew. I guess the office reached out a touched someone’s life, I never knew. I guess in some far away place, someone was comforted, I never knew. I guess there are people in our office who are thankful for what they got, I never knew. I guess there are people in our office who think our office is pretty special, I never knew. I guess I should be happy just knowing what a fine place our office really is, I’m not.

I’m not, because The Flower Fund is no more. The Flower Fund was just a vision of our own greatness, flexing our ego, a lie we were told and a lie we told. It was never to be, it was an empty dream, a substitute for being. The boss said so, and so it was, for a few, for a moment and then lost in the reality of somehow the office is a bigger and better version of ourselves than we are ourselves. Lost in the idea that somehow collectively we are more than we are individually, we are not. Each of us is a perfect or flawed part of the whole. Each of us can be everything we are, all the time. Each of us can help each other be everything they can be. We will never be more than the sum of all our parts. Collectively we can not do more than what each of us will do individually. We will never be more than the resources we bring with us, never more than the initiative we take, never more than the calories we burn, never more than the ideas we have. Sure we can go forward together, united in a common purpose, all under the same flag. Sure we can work together and surely we will be as great as we are, nothing more.