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There’s a $750 million Powerball jackpot up for grabs and betting on March Madness basketball abounds. So, who wants in on the office pool?
While you flit around your workplace collecting money and jotting down the names of betting participants, remember – for those who don’t gamble and those on tight budgets, getting pressured to fork over two-, five-, ten- or 20-dollar-bills week after week can become taxing.
Or as one anti-office pooler put it, “flat-out annoying.”
“I don’t like being pressured into doing anything,” says LaTaye Davis, 45, who refused to participate in office pools while working at a medical center near Alexandria, Virginia.
“I thought to myself, ‘How am I going to know if we win? Are ya’ll going to even tell me if ya’ll win?'” Davis says.
The single mother felt empowered to hold her money close. Still, she says that opting out of the workplace’s collective lottery tickets turned out to be an alienating experience.
Not a team player
“All of a sudden, because I didn’t want to give them my money that one time, I stopped getting invited to things. They started saying I wasn’t a team player,” Davis says.
And she’s not the only person who thinks that the circumstances surrounding cash-collecting camaraderie can be isolating.
Paige Waiver, 32, said, “I don’t want them to think I’m not a team player, but it just never appealed to me.”
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Though the marketing manager who lives in Dallas never gives in, she says that she has felt pressure to give up cash for pooled tickets whenever she’s new to a workplace.
“When I was in my twenties, or when I had only been in a place for a few months, I really wanted to impress people,” Waiver says. “Still, I grew up with my parents telling me that it’s a waste of money, so I’d say ‘no thank you’ when people come around and ask.”
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It’s a burden for some
Some office managers have grown sensitive to the burden that office pool efforts put on some employees, specifically those who don’t earn high salaries.
“That’s why I try to be understanding,” says Carla Van Horn, 36, who’s an office manager and construction engineer in Los Angeles.
“I don’t want people to put in 10 to 20 bucks every week,” she says. “There are some people in our office that aren’t comfortable doing that.”
Instead, when Van Horn is at the helm of the office collection, she asks that people put in $5 at the most.
“I don’t think that’s too unfair,” Van Horn says.
Quitting the pool cold turkey
Dave Riker, 35, who works at a college in Columbus, Ohio, says that over time, office pools became too “discouraging.”
“I quit the lottery office pool cold turkey about a year ago,” he says. “It was becoming, like, $10 a week, and that didn’t seem like that big of a deal. But after several weeks in a row, there was no winner and we were dropping, like, $40 a week for something that we had no chance of winning.”
He says that most of the pressure he felt was internal. “You just don’t want to be that person who’s left out. You could be stuck going to work when everyone else is living the dream,” Riker says.
‘I told y’all’ you’d lose
Sure, no one wants to be the pool party pooper, but experts say it’s better to be upfront and honest about your disinterest than to get involved in something you don’t believe in.
“We spend a lot of time at work and our goal is to want harmony. When we decline an invitation, we feel like we are messing up that harmony,” says Elaine Swann, etiquette expert and founder of the Swann School of Protocol headquartered in Carlsbad, California. “Remember, it’s more harmonious to be truthful than to accept something you don’t want to participate in.”
The etiquette expert says that if you want to opt out when your co-workers pony up, be brutally honest without being brutal. “Just say, ‘not this time’ or ‘perhaps next time,’ and smile when you say it.”
You might feel left out temporarily, but you’re the one who lucks out if your office doesn’t win.
“I always just feel vindication when they lose,” Waiver says. “See, I told ya’ll.”
Follow Dalvin Brown on Twitter: @Dalvin_Brown
Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2019/03/27/powerball-its-hard-refuse-office-lottery-pool-workers-say/3290276002/