Chapter 8: Last Minute Lunar

Chapter 8: Last Minute Lunar

February 11th, 2018 – February 17, 2018

Only a couple interesting things happened this week.

Valentine memes. While nothing exciting happened on Valentines, for me anyways, its still a fun day to observe. Just by going on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, you start to see some of the best memes of single losers everywhere. Below are some of my favorite this year:

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Apart from spending Valentines with my phone, at around 7pm on Wednesday, I got a date. One of my team members messaged me saying they wanted to throw an event that same Friday, and would like me to organize.


While I do love my job, I did not want to spend Valentines Day with last minute anxiety. But oh well. The event would be to celebrate Lunar New Year at the office. Easy enough. But the budget was based on headcount. That means that I’m given a number, in this case $20 per head, and however many people RSVP “yes” will increase how much money is in my budget. That isn’t a bad process or rule to go by SOMETIMES, because you get to spend more to have more if more people want to attend. But for a last minute event that doesn’t even have an invite yet, this budget system was a mood killer.

Before I can make any purchases using budget, a proposal has to be created for the department manager’s approval. Since this was two days before and I didn’t have heads, I could at least write the proposal with possible guest count, and a possible menu.

My Ideal Menu

Ramen Bowls – Both Mushroom & Ginger Chicken
Sushi – Nigiri, Maki, Sashimi
Dessert – Yuzu Sugar Cookies, Wasabi Rice Crispy Treats
Drinks – Oolong Milk Teas, Sake, Beer

Obviously, this would be quite pricey. No way would I get approval with this without the actual headcount to back it up. I needed 25 people to RSVP in order to move forward. I wanted the person who came up with the event to write up the invite. He was the one who wanted to throw this, and he knows more about Lunar New Year than I do. He can write it out more easily with better details. The more details, the more people will want to go.

Next day, Thursday morning. No invite sent yet. AHHH. At least if the invite was sent the night before, some people would have accepted by then, or by early morning. I reached out to him and asked, he thought I was going to send it out. This is why communication is important! Okay, one problem at a time. Send that invite out, with the best copy paste I can find online about Lunar New Year, and pray for 25 Yes’.

I send out the invite, and sure enough I get a few RSVP’s right away. While I let those RSVPs flow in, I needed to begin ordering alcohol. The caterer I want only has the milk teas, but the beer and sake will have to come from another company. In San Francisco, one of the best companies to get alcohol from is Mike’s Liquors. Almost every event planner has used them before. They deliver about everywhere in the city for free, but you need to meet a minimum. Usually meeting this minimum isn’t an issue when you order a keg, but I wasn’t so sure that I would have enough money in budget, or if even enough people were gonna go to order $100 worth of drinks. And I don’t even have the headcount I want to be planning ahead this far. I thought the best option at this point would be to go in person in the morning of the event to pick up the alcohol and bring it in myself. It’s cheaper and will give me more budget for my IDEAL MENU~~

The event was for Friday evening at 3:30pm and will go to 5pm. It’s always hard to throw events on Friday for the office. People have plans Friday evenings after work. So getting people interested is always a pain, but my job is to make things happen. And I have to make things happen with whatever money I’m given. Even a small event needs to well organized, planned, and polished. Probably some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten from my mentor is:

If you don’t take the small task seriously, you think people will trust you with the big work?

So I’m taking this event very serious, regardless of how many people attend. The head of the department will be there, and if he has a blast, it makes me look great.

At about 20 people saying Yes, and 5 Maybes, I decided that was more than enough grounds to place my catering order. The 5 Maybes I counted for a Yes, just because a Maybe usually means they will stop by and will stay if they like what they see.

My menu was prebuilt for an expected headcount of 25, so it was ready to be submitted. It was 3:25pm, so I would meet the 24 hour deadline that most caterers require for big orders.


ERROR: We are no longer accepting orders at this time.

And no, I’m not over reacting. My menu that I imagined for my event is not being accepted. But you can’t just call it quits there. Sure i couldn’t submit using their online form, but you can still call and see if they can submit the order from their end. A helpful tip anyone looking to plan in the future. If the online forms won’t let you submit, just call them. AND BE POLITE. Even if you are having planning anxiety, you need to always be calm and polite when calling a company. In reality, while you are the one purchasing a service from them, you are still asking for a favor by asking them to ignore their 24 hour notice process.

Sadly, it didn’t happen this time. I called the caterer, they gave me the phone line to the main manager for catering to see if they can schedule it for me. Every time I called, I got sent straight to voicemail. It happens, I can’t be upset. Need to stay focused and figure out what I’m going to do for food.

I look at other Asian caterers and just call them directly instead of bothering to even make a menu if they aren’t even going to accept it. As expected, a bunch of Nos. It was almost 5pm and I was losing hope. The last resort is always heading to Costco or Safeway and buying a bunch of party platters. It isn’t as nice but it is better than having a room with nothing but office snacks. And you can always dress up premade party food with some nice serving trays. But of course, avoid that if you can.

This basically started to feel like Tinder. I was swiping right on all these caterers, and they were not interested. Finally, I got one of the restaurants to match with me. YES~ Sure they didn’t have my ramen bowls or sweets, but it having to make changes is part of life.

New Menu From Bamboo Restaurant
Chow Mein
Fried Rice
Sesame Chicken
Pot Stickers
Spring Rolls
Sushi – Nigiri, Maki, Sashimi, & Veggie rolls

I worshiped the man who took my last minute order. That was the hardest variable for the event. And I still had a good portion of budget left for the alcohol, which I was going to pick up in the morning. Sadly, no options for people who don’t drink, but we have tons of other drinks in the office so it was a sacrifice I was willing to make.
Everything else such as decorations I purchased off Prime Now and they would have it to me that evening.

The day of, I wake up early and take an Uber over to Mike’s Liquors. It was when I got there that I realized something terrible:

I know nothing about sake.

I did what any other reasonable person would do. I started to pick my sake based on which had the nicer bottle designs. A pink one, a square black one, and some big long black one.

The pink one was Sayuri Junmai Nigori
Square was Genshu Sake – Joy
Long one was Murai Tanrei
For beer, I got a pack of Leffe & Stella.
To round out my drinking options, I picked up a bottle of Kilchoman 2008 Vintage scotch from a whiskey shop near the office.

After all the drama, it was just waiting for the caterer to arrive to my nicely set up room. Finally got some time to just sit and catch up on my e-mails.

The event went as planned. People arrived at 3:45pm, and stayed for a good amount of time. The sake I found myself enjoying the most was the Sayuri Junmai Nigori. I couldn’t tell if I liked the bottle it came from more, or if I actually liked the taste. It had a very smooth finish which I loved. The taste was very plain-like, like a bowl of white rice with nothing added. But the creamy texture and the smooth feel made it my favorite of the night. I probably had most of the bottle to myself.

At 5pm, people started to clear out, and my manager helped me clean up the after. We discussed next weeks deadlines before going our separate ways.

I ended the night at Toad Hall, one of the gay bars in the city. I went alone to wind down. I had no intention of hooking up or dancing or anything like that. I just wanted to mellow out with a cocktail to finish the night.
Cocktail of choice: Kettle Water. It is Kettle brand vodka mixed with water. It sounds gross and boring, but its actually quite refreshing. Something simple and plain after a few days of chaos.

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