So here's a recap since Oscar Night because we haven't talked since then.
Had dinner with my fifth-grade teacher. I should explain that more, because that sounds like we reunited after 35 years, which would be an entertaining story, but not the truth. We have been in touch all along, so really I should say, had dinner with a home-town friend who happened to be in Boston for a weekend. But that is not quite the same paragraph opener. When I was a ghastly 11-year old, in big-eyed panda bear sweatshirts and converse high-tops with no socks (because that was my "thing"), and she was an ivory-skinned 26 year old who believed she could influence the lives of children, she went ahead and did it. It was entirely my pleasure to take her to a chowder dinner on the coldest night in Boston.
The teens she was chaperoning were attending a Model Congress conference. And that gave me renewed hope in the young people of America, who do look promising in dark business suits.
Renewed hope in myself came from an invitation to speak at my favorite local college campus, at the invitation of someone I met through RopedIn.com. (that's Otto's joke. I am very jealous of it, and tried to make a whole post about it, but really...it stands alone). I haven't been on this campus in so long it doesn't exist anymore. That's not a metaphor. They sold every building I ever worked in and built and converted new ones, so if I was worried about any Scene of the Crime feeling, I didn't have to.
Most of the day, down the Mill, I can expect disaster. and not of the catastrophic kind, but of the inept, ridiculous, nonsensical, who-is-driving-this-bus kind. Often, in response to some executive act of clumsiness, I am known to declare, "I have worked with 19 year old girls who would have known better," and certainly I have. And over the years I have begun to wonder whether excellence is just something outdated, like the IBM Selectric and pegged jeans. These are things I enjoyed at the turn of the 90s that simply can't be found anymore. I am "counseled" by my current leadership that "chaos is the new structure," and "it's like this everywhere."
I went into this speaking engagement expecting more of the same -- so I made a slide deck in case they didn't really have an internet connection like I had requested. Then I made printouts of the slide deck in case there wasn't really projection. I called twice and made 2 email confirmations. I requested a snow-plan. Then we cancelled the snow plan because it wasn't going to snow. So it snowed.
And, I promise you Readership.... it was only snowing on the Mill. I stood there at my desk and watched it fall, and bit my lip and prepared myself to never get to the city on time, to not find a parking space, to have no one show. As I approached the city, it was only rain. The group hosting me had 3 people in charge -- one to make sure I got there, one to make sure I had my requested tech set-up, one to introduce me and show me around. He wore a tie. A tie that didn't match his shirt, which was so wrinkled it looked deliberate, but these are Emersonians, so he acknowledged it as "what not to wear." I myself was in a purple suit, which is the college color. I feel in love with them all over again, and I didn't even know them before.
So ~~ MEMO to you overpaid executives who don't know your asses from your breakfast. No, wait, I will type it in my pica-ball font:
I flew on that high for the rest of the week. I am also pleased to report that I still got it, platform-wise, and can sustain a 60 minute talk on fewer than 10 slides, and 45 minutes of follow-up questions. And yes, they did send a thank you note.
TO: Overpaid Boneheads
FROM: Caroline Bender
SUBJECT: Your replacements
DATE: every bless-ed day
Please be advised that I am requesting that you be replaced with the leadership of the Zeta Phi Eta fraternity, as I feel they are more prepared to run this company than you have shown yourselves to be.
Specifically, they have excelled in the following areas where you are collectively the most weak:
1. Organizational planning, both long- and short-range
2. Attention to professional development for their members
3. Events planning
4. Distribution of labor
5. Contingency planning
6. Professional courtesy
7. General likeability
8. Group dynamics
9. Women in leadership
10. Let's face it; I just hate you