It is Spring now in North America–in fits and starts with plenty of storms a blowing from global climate change and the hot air that blows in from D.C. I was at an event yesterday for work, acting as the octopus on roller skates handling 20 statues of pristine crystal, helping efforts behind the scenes. At one point, a “VIP-P” (a very important pompous person) came up to me and began half thanking me and my boss for our help with getting her her first big “thing.” What is this thing you ask? It doesn’t matter. For sake of literary appeasement, let’s call it a ring of power. A shiny thing; a most covetous thing. It is part of my job to help these people get these rings. Except these rings are supposed to help society, not puff up people like poisonous blowfish. But I digress…
They met me, face to face at the event, full of flashing cameras, a spread of food, and tablecloths. (It actually wasn’t that fancy and the carpet was badly in need of a cleaning. Definitely an Emperor’s New Clothes kind of atmosphere…) I helped this VIP-P get their ring, their first ring of their career. But to them, as I listened to their speech of half-thanks, they did all the real work–I just pushed the right buttons, it seemed. (If only it were that easy.) They proceeded to talk to me for about twenty minutes, taking my time from doing other things at the event. But I listened, politely, like a jellyfish suspended in water and shocked by accidentally stinging itself and waiting for the pain to subside. And funnily enough, I understood nothing that came out of this person’s mouth. Ever notice how some people’s e-mail language match how they are in real life? The irony is that the person witnessed this with me: “You’re very polite,” they said to a coworker about me that I half-heard as I worked; I was then ordered to listen to her penetrating observations. “Hey, I’m talking about you!” But ironically, they couldn’t see this in themselves. Like in their e-mails, their vocal mannerisms and speech meandered here, there and everywhere except for the point. After awhile, the conversation ended and I was inundated with other people’s questions: “What’s this food? Ooh, it’s a danish. What’s in this one?” and “I need a booklet and they’re out; can I steal yours like I shamelessly steal your energy and time?” And my personal favorite: “We need a flier made before lunch–we have an hour to do that and solve the energy crisis.”
Pray tell, I never learned that if one is behind a refreshment table, busily working on a last minute request on their bosses’ laptop, that you’re also expected to be a culinary chef. How quaint.
This same VIP-P later went around, complaining to everyone at the event (e.g., my colleagues) that their name wasn’t published in the program booklet. Luckily, they didn’t complain to me (I had been the one who supplied the names). I had reported the names of ring bearers (no wedding puns intended) like we reported all the data–by state fiscal year (July to June). This VIP-P fell outside of that timeframe by two months–her moment of fame would be next year. But no tears came from me–I’m sure she would dress for the occasion next year, as the prima donna she was proving to be. The other ring wearers got little yellow bags with a water bottle, a pen, and maybe a few other thingamajigs–tokens of appreciation and recognition. All of the highest quality plastic, rest assured, and could be cashed in at your nearest bank to avoid taking out a second mortgage on your house.
Later, this woman demanded a said bag of goodies from a coworker of mine. He was still baffled by this encounter as he later retold the story to me. I half hoped a dead spider was in the bottom of the bag he gave her, curled up in a corner, as these had been sitting in storage since last year. Highly desirable, indeed.
Quick side bar: Another VIP-P (emphasis on the pompous part) I worked under at a previous job, I heard, got promoted to a very fluffy chair of power and prestige this past week. Made the news and everything. This was the kind of position that comes with a gray cat you stroke while crowing over your power and musing your next move–you know the one. I overheard my boss talking about the news with a colleague of hers at the event. She summarized this person by (and I’ll use a word that rhymes with the actual word): “Yeah, he’s a real Rick. A real Rick.” As lunchtime neared, I felt I was surrounded by Ricks.
As time passed and technical difficulties made us scrap the flier and table solving the energy crisis, lunch ensued and then the rousing speeches began. Oh, goody. (Later I heard the grand pooh-bah of the place thought he was the key note speaker–apparently their narcissism was so large that they didn’t bother to consider any other option. A slight tussle of power ensued that was fortunately smoothed over.) Just when the speeches were reaching a crescendo, and the pompous lady was being called out in a speech for demanding a public apology, I stood up and walked over to two of my colleagues. They were off to one area, hidden behind a wall and had been lingering there for awhile. My coworker was having a seizure, and a very bad one–one my other coworker assumed was brought up by the flashing camera lights and interference with the speaker systems, among other items I won’t share. I ran and got water, and she managed to take her medicine. I ran again and got ice and more water. An officer came, and soon I was standing outside, flagging an ambulance down to ensure they knew where we were. All the while, twenty feet away, the narcissists dined, flashed even more bulbs, and looked at their rings like Gollum looked at his. “My….precious…”
Plague of the Red Death for $300, Alex?
Needless to say, after the event, I was one drained introvert. But don’t worry, the commute home wasn’t filled with a torrential downpour, making it hard to see, whilst on country roads lined with deep ditches on either side. What would make you think that? Thankfully I made it home in one piece.
That is my tale. Some facts are obscured or omitted to hide the innocent (or not so innocent) parties involved. Happy writing and stay away from the VIP-P blowfish. They come in all shapes and sizes and strike when you least expect them to. However, you do have one advantage: if they blow up in front of you–just let them. Eventually they will swell up so big, they will float far, far away…