b Papa Dog's Blog: People Wrangling, Then and Now

Papa Dog's Blog

A Thing Wherein I Infrequently Write Some Stuff

Friday, February 25, 2005

People Wrangling, Then and Now

The Friday before the Oscars is always the busiest day of the year for me. Most of the ballots for my Oscar pool come in on Thursday and Friday, and I have to transcribe the selections and email them back out for the entrants to double-check. Unfortunately, most of the ballots don’t just “come in,” especially the ones from my biggest demographic group, office folk. I have to be a one-man hunting expedition, beating the underbrush, firing the shot, and bagging the prey all by myself. I start off slow, with a series of email reminders – one on the Monday saying “this is the last week,” one on the Thursday saying “only today and tomorrow” and then one on Friday saying “this is it!” Then on Friday afternoon I actually get up and move about the office – like, away from my desk. I go to parts of the floor whose existence remains for me largely mythical the rest of the year. I approximate an ingratiating smile. I talk to everyone. Newer hires look on with startlement, learning for the first time that I’m capable of speaking. This year required me to go to further extremities for lesser returns. I was talking today with another guy who also wrangles votes for an Oscar pool every year. “Have you noticed a distinct lack of enthusiasm this year?” I asked. He had. We’ve both had to really work to get even regulars to enter. What’s the deal? Didn’t anybody go to the movies this year?

I was thinking tonight about why it is I make these extra chores for myself…organising Oscar pools and birthday surprises and blogging every damn day. There’s apparently something I like about organising a complicated event and making it run like clockwork. I was trying to think back to childhood, to remember when I first started people wrangling. I know when I was ten or so, I started something called “The Detective’s Club.” The concept was a little shaky, because it had nothing to do with detection. I suppose I called it that just because I liked to read detective stories. I don’t really remember. I don’t think we ever had a proper mission statement. So far as I can recall, the only requirement for membership was to give me a dollar to help me pay for photocopying the membership cards and the newsletter, which I did over at the library on scary thermal paper for a nickel a pop. I think all you got for your membership was a membership card and a subscription to the newsletter. I don’t remember what was in the newsletter. Profiles of the people who had membership cards, I think. "Here, give me a dollar and I’ll give you a newsletter that tells you a little bit about yourself." Come to think of it, that’s marketing genius – people love reading about themselves. It’s just kind of impractical for penetrating a market larger than five other sixth graders who also have limitations to their social horizons.

So now the entry fee has gone up tenfold and you don’t get a newsletter, but you get to place a wager on the outcome of a silly TV show, and if you click on the link in my email signature, you could maybe end up reading a little bit about yourself.


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