Yes, I know I said I need to stay away from important people, but come on readers a reception at the Carolina Inn with all the trimmings, crab cakes, artichoke bites, little canapes I cannot name, cookies, brownies, free wine, coffee and soft drinks, beautiful Christmas decorations. I had to go!
So, I pull up to the CI and am told by the parking attendant that there is no free parking for the event. That means $7 for self-park or $10 for valet. It was raining, so you know which one I took! I did not plan to stay long, but I did not want to go in looking like a drowned rat, and besides, I always valet park at the Inn, of course generally I am eating there and can get my little thingee stamped so that there is no charge. I guess I should have planned to go have a cup of tea at the restaurant and then get my parking stub stamped, but I thought of that too late.
Anyway, I go to this function which was in honor of a man who tries really, really hard not to speak to me when we arrive at work at the same time and see each other in the parking lot. Because I am vertically challenged it is easy to at least pretend to look over my head. At one point I decided he did not like blacks or women, but then a friend went to work for him and he loves her and she loves him and she is black and female, so it must be something more specific. She is, however, a secretary, I suspect that it is because I am a Uppity Black that he is not so comfy with me. Of course it could be that he simply finds me too challenging, me being rather confident and lacking a suck-up gene.
I mainly went to the affair to observe the “important” people at play. It is fascinating to watch what I call the Dance of the Toadies. You can tell how important someone is, or at least how important people think he or she is by how many people run up to greet them and chat them up.This is not sour grapes folks, lots of people run up and chat me up–they are obviously delusional and believe that I am important, boy do I have them fooled!
Anyway, I am always terminally disappointed in the lack of sincerity, genuineness and honesty in the crowd. People who have told me they despise someone will, on occasions like this, give them air kisses and smile and schmooze to beat the band. I have only recently come to understand that part of the climate of big organizations like my campus is being deceitful, perhaps it is even considered an art, it is certainly practiced as much as playing an instrument and it also has its own language which one has to practice.
The nastiest, most evil and disliked person is not evil and disliked, he or she is “difficult” or “uncooperative.” These people are not to be confused with the “aggressive” or “intimidating” people who are often dubbed aggressive or intimidating because they refuse to drink the institutional Kool-Aid and declare all is well when it clearly is not.
On days like this when I see the caliber of people who are “leaders” I begin to wonder how this school, state and country can actually run and survive. The main characteristic that seems to be in vogue is to do nothing, see nothing and say nothing. In other words, the less people know about who you really are the better you will do in your career. Interesting! I wonder if they ever ask themselves if passing as a cipher is amply enough rewarded by their paychecks?
I remember one administrator at a college I worked at who had a similar farewell reception a few years ago. It was poorly attended because the woman was basically an unknown, even though she had worked at the institution for decades. I went because I was curious to see what they were going to say she had done, since I had it on pretty good authority from people who had been working with her for decades that what she did was unremarkable to say the least. Evidently she failed to get tenure on her first try or so and there was at least some belief that when she did get it it was because some strings were pulled on her behalf. She then got a series of administrative jobs, all of which were marked by a remarkable lack of innovation, progress or improvement. But, she never made anyone mad and she never had any kind of controversy associated with her name. She was a zero.
At her farewell the remarks made were vague, general and non-specific. It was not so much a nostalgic send off as an “oh well she is leaving, but we hardly knew she was here.”
Well boys and girls, I do not know when I will be leaving, but when I do, no matter what kind of farewell they give me, whether it is a pink slip and an escort off campus or a lovely reception and a plaque, they will know I was here, and they will know who I was. They will also know that like Frankie I did it MY way. 🙂