I Can’t Quite Put My Finger On It

Some coworkers recently told me they were interested in the opera. I typically have season tickets to the opera with mom. So I talked to mom, and she doesn’t want to go to the first show.  I approached my coworkers about whether one or both of them would like to join me. We could all buy season tickets together. They want to go to the first show, but not necessarily the second. I’ll buy season tickets, sell them mom’s seat to the first show (for what I paid for it), and if we need one, we’ll buy an extra.

I suspect that single seats might be a little extra, to cement the benefit of being a season ticket-holder. (I’ve now checked— they’re $10 more than my seats. But if I buy them all at the same time, they’re all the same price. So dilemma effectively resolved, but this is a flag that tells me that the political posturing I think I’ve recently seen from coworker 2, below, is not really in my imagination, and even non-work events are in play.)

One of my coworkers said to the other “that works great— if one of us gets a discount for using the season ticket, we’ll split it, if the other one has to pay more.” To me, this seems 100 percent reasonable. I’m not making money off them in this transaction— I’m passing along savings. For them to split that savings is only fair. Their business more than mine, but seems like a fair way to handle it.

The other coworker said that she’d do it on the condition that we all pay the same amount. She really emphasized it. Which means, if my intuition is right, that I’ll actually pay more for my seat than I would if I sold it to a stranger.

I suspect that the amount of discount between season ticket and single seat is small, and so it’s not probably worth worrying about. I work closely with these coworkers every day, and inviting them to share the opera with me was meant to be team-building. It’s not worth alienating them over $5 or $10. I’ll probably follow through with this either way. But it bothers me so much that she’d insist that we all pay the same amount. The reason I get a discount is that my season ticket subscription is a financial commitment I make up-front, and have repeatedly made. I earn that discount by a longer-term commitment of funds than either of them is willing to make, and sharing it with them shouldn’t come with a financial penalty for me any larger than the fact that I’ll assume the risk in buying the tickets and they’ll have to pay me back.

Help me figure out what about this bothers me so much, and whether I should try one more time to fight it.

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3 thoughts on “I Can’t Quite Put My Finger On It

  1. Ooh— maybe it’s the fact that it’s a power play on my coworker’s part? That it’s an unreasonable request that she feels entitled to make and she thinks I’ll go along with because there’s an imbalance of power? Given that she and I are ostensible equals (same title, etc.), this kind of exercise of power suggests that she’s slightly more equal, and can demand more favorable terms than those to which she’s entitled? I feel like there’s something there.

  2. I think she’s trying to manipulate you. Don’t put up with that nonsense. Here’s how I would approach it “Hey, Coworker 2, I’m a little confused by your request. My mom’s season ticket seat is $X, if I buy another ticket to the first show it costs $Y, so if you and Co-worker 1 want to go, it will cost $(X+Y)/2. It sounds like you want me to pay more for my season ticket to subsidize your cost, but that can’t be what you mean, can it? Are you saying that you actually want season tickets so that your cost per show is $X? Season tickets are cheaper on a per-ticket basis, but to get that discount you need to buy the whole season. Is that what you’re asking for?” I’d phrase it like genuine confusion to force her to defend her position, then you can say “Wait, you want me to pay extra for my ticket? This is sounding like too much hassle. How about I just sell Co-worker 1 my mom’s ticket and you can get your own. We can meet up at intermission and after the show.”

    • Thanks— it felt like a thing to call her on, but I also have to think long-term and short term— if my ticket costs $40 and hers costs $50, split three ways, I’m paying $43.33, but I have to see her every single day and work with her on projects…
      Fortunately, if I buy a third ticket when I buy season tix, it looks like the third ticket costs the same. However, if she has to sit a row or two behind me and Coworker 1, the reasonable one, I don’t think it will bother me…

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