Invitations of Great Price

A story from my days at the Church Office Building:

The week before each General Conference, many of the General Authorities from around the world fly into Salt Lake for meetings. During this week, the church hosts a luncheon for General Authorities’ wives.

One year, the wife in charge of organizing the luncheon (I really wish I could remember who it was) asked that the church produce invitations for the luncheon. She wanted these to be special and of high quality, so she insisted that our editing staff (me) and the graphic design department be involved in creating the invitations.

She sent me a list of the items that had to be on the invitation, and I sent back a proposed text for the cards and the envelopes. The graphic designer came up with a simple but tasteful layout for both.

But the GA wife wasn’t satisfied. She kept asking for this change or that change, and what should have been a simple job went on for a few weeks. Finally, she had what she wanted, and the envelopes and cards were produced at the church’s printing press in West Valley City. You have to understand that it’s no small feat to stop a multimillion-dollar printing press to do a run of perhaps 100 cards and envelopes.

In the end, our time was billed, and the total was over $5000, meaning that the cards had cost about $50 each. Apparently, it had never occurred to this woman that our time and the printing press time were valuable and that someone would have to pay for the invitations.

Shocked, she said there was no way the GA wives could come up with that kind of money. So, she went to her husband, who finagled a way for the church to eat the cost of the cards.

But the cards did look pretty nice in the end.


12 Responses to Invitations of Great Price

  1. ditchu says:

    you didn’t give an estimate or ever a layout of how much you charge for your time up front? Or did she ignore it?

  2. runtu says:

    We never gave anyone an estimate of anything. We were church employees, and we did church assignments, just like at any other job. When your boss gives you an assignment, do you figure out how much to bill your boss? Why would you expect us to suddenly start making up estimates just for that one instance?

    The problem was that we never should have been asked to do the work. We didn’t bill people, and we weren’t supposed to be doing favors for anyone.

  3. sideon says:

    Off topic: Hola – by the time I got your message I tried to call back but the # was on auto-service and couldn’t transfer me to your voicemail… ack.

    Drop a line. Runnin’ around with the cell phone today.

    On Topic: I was in the DC airport and went to the Smithsonian store to pick up blank note cards of great American artists. When I got home I found that the artist I’d chose was German. They’re quite pretty, though.

  4. $50 a card for a luncheon? Yikes! I don’t think I’ve ever spent $50 on lunch.

  5. runtu says:

    Next time I’m in your town I’ll buy you lunch, Stu. Probably not $50 worth.

  6. cinepro says:

    The weird thing is that she didn’t even have a budget. If she expected to be spending the Church’s money up front, the Church should have told her what her limit is.

    Endless revisions are a sign of someone who doesn’t care how much it costs.

    But the real scary thing is to wonder about the stories we don’t hear (or have yet to hear, eh Runtu? 🙂 )

  7. runtu says:

    I have a few interesting stories, but mostly it was just a job in a large corporation.

  8. Nom says:

    I dunno, Runtu. I enjoyed the story you told me the other day about low level, long term employees, and their modest job responsibilities. I wonder if you could write up a few of those kinds of stories in your usual entertaining style?
    I’m sure Ditchu would think you were being petty, but I think the rest of us would enjoy it.

  9. ditchu says:

    I would not think runtu is or was petty. In defence of my prior comment, I was taken aback about how business was handled… even my auto machanic geves me an estimate, also I do usually have a budget in mind, and sometimes I have to ask what might the costs be. So that is where my comment came from. Maybe the lady should have place a budget on the expence in the first place.
    But “Petty?” No, runtu I do not think you have ever represented yourself on these blogs as petty, sometimes you jab me when I mistype, but in general I would not consider you petty.

  10. runtu says:

    I think I’ve only jabbed you once for a mistype.

    OK, Nom, I’ll tell some of my stories a little at a time. One of my favorites actually involves Thomas Monson (and no, I don’t mean the spandex elves story).

  11. TxAgKuwait says:

    I am really glad to see the blog back up and running. I sure do hate it that you managed to leave paradise without me having the opportunity to feed you (although lunch at Luby’s or Whataburger is generally less than $50) or haul you over to Kyle Field for a game.

    But it sounds like things are better, which is good. If you are ever in the mood you can stop by TexAgs.Com — the religion & philosophy board is still its usual.

    Semi-retirement doesn’t suck.

  12. runtu says:

    I’m so glad to hear from you. I have to go down to Texas next month (San Angelo), but that’s not really close to where you are. It’s been a long time since you were emailing me from the war.

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