Once inside the Brown’s kitchen, Kay invited me to sit wherever I wished as she motioned to the eating area with an incredibly large spread of edible goodness. I thanked Kay and proceeded to make myself comfortable in the middle, looking at the dips, chips and snacks in such abundance the table’s edges were barely visible. After some minor struggling I finally resigned my notepad to my lap while everyone else settled into their selected seats, Kay stood at the head of the table and proceeded to chair the meeting, she introduced the new guest (me) to the group and suggested we work our way around the room to give everyone an opportunity to introduce themselves and state why they were at the meeting.
What a great hostess, that was really thoughtful – breaking the ice and making me feel welcome…I sure did appreciate it.
When the introductions made their way to my former friend, again there was no eye contact, there was absolutely no movement, but there was the chin in the partial fist, only this time the elbow was on the table. Looking straight ahead from the foot of the table, the tone certainly matched the body language saying “Robin knows me”, quite curtly. I’m sure my back got a little straighter as the first thought that came to my mind was a simple – wow.
The introductions around the table wrapped up and Kay went straight into the business at hand. I took a couple of mental notes here: nobody was interested to learn why I was there, and why were there so many heavy hitters (Village Officials) at a community volunteer meeting?
Darlene Southward apprised the group of what she had accomplished since their last meeting. She was organizing an art auction event to raise funds for the committee and delivered her updates in the most stone faced, matter of fact manner I’ve ever seen (other than my former friend, now that I think about it). If the stacks of files and papers she had perched on the corner of the real estate starved table in front of her were any indication, it was going to be a big event…and a serious one too.
One of the last pieces of business that day Kay said was the “buy local” and asked for a volunteer to handle the “buy local” stickers. No volunteers…humph, were they waiting for me to volunteer? It was a simple task, was it designed as a test to see if I’d volunteer, or if I could do a good job, I wondered? Up went my hand, “I’ll take it”, I said. Andrea Cueto leaned over me slightly tapping my shoulder to get my attention and said, “I’ll do it with you, I want to do it with you”. “Sure” I replied then directed some qualifying questions to the group for a better understanding of what they were looking for. They were adamant the verbiage used for the stickers was to be “buy local, or bye-bye local” I offered an alternate phrase but they had obviously discussed this before and had the decision made, Andrea being the strongest and most vocal proponent.
Before leaving Kay’s house that day I let Kay and Andrea know that I was interested in the Downtown Managers position and the opportunity to fight for all the merchants equally. They had me convinced they were concerned about the viability of our downtown, I’m sure they had a good little laugh about it later.
I sat on my hands for a week waiting on communication from Andrea about the “sticker” assignment and finally just came up with some idea’s and emailed her to get some input and pass on the direction I had come up with. Her reply email basically stated that she appreciated my enthusiasm but actually didn’t as she was too busy to deal with the stickers and she’d see me at the next meeting. I finished working on the theme and developed some graphics, then I made an executive decision to do a whole Buy Local Campaign, complete with banners, posters for store windows and of course stickers. I was going to get individual business sponsorship, asking for donations to cover the promotional material costs. I emailed the group to show them what I’d come up with and gather some feedback.
Well, this is what I came up with and portions of each were going to be the graphics for the stickers. I wanted to create something bold to catch the eye of passersby, with the thought of encouraging someone to read it. Most importantly, I was aiming for something of quality that shop owners would be proud to hang in their windows. After I created them, one by one the f-troopers dissented about the verbiage they directed me to use for the stickers. Except Andrea, she didn’t even attempt to defend her bye-bye local. Andrea was as suspiciously silent as she was absent.
They suddenly decided that “buy local, or bye-bye local” was too negative. I don’t know if it was supposed to be a set up, if the whole task was designed to fail…to make me look like I failed, I don’t really know? I do know the whole thing was suspect and it fell right in-line with the same choreography that played out for every other task I volunteered to do. Imagine if I just followed orders and got rolls of stickers printed up!
As you can see, it doesn’t say what the group initially wanted it to say, this was my original suggestion in the meeting.
I’m sure by now you’re sitting on the edge of your seat, waiting to hear more. The saga continues in another post…
Arrogance, ostracizing and sabotage – part 3
Image: Idea go / FreeDigitalPhotos.net