March 27, 2007

It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

A couple vignettes in the life of an itinerant community leader:

Vignette #1:

On Saturday, my old elementary school celebrated its 40th anniversary. Having the afternoon free, and having heard there would be a mariachi band present, I decided to pop in and check things out. And somehow, I was successfully mistaken for an Important Person.

I serve on several boards and committees in Dot-Com Canyon, so I might be moderately familiar to a dedicated observer who spends a lot of time watching/reading the local media, but I do not consider myself an Important Person.

On Saturday, though, I was treated as one. My county supervisor, state delegate, and state senator were all at the festivities, and each of them recognized me and took time to say hello. Not in the "Oh, here comes what's-his-name, I'd better pretend to care" sense, either. They actually picked me out of the crowd and took the time to chat. I was floored. I would not have guessed that any of them could have picked me out of a lineup with the Andrews Sisters.

Later on, a reporter for one of the local papers recognized me and came across the room to interview me. She asked a number of fairly innocuous questions, asking how it felt to be back and what role the school played in the community and so on, and I gave fairly innocuous answers. As I spoke, I was flipping through an old yearbook, and came across a picture of my third-grade class. I pointed myself out to her, buck-toothed and blond. "And there's Cassie," I said, pointing to a redheaded girl sitting next to the teacher. "First girl I ever had a crush on."

As the reporter was walking away, she indicated that she would write about my crush on Cassie in her article. I think she was kidding. I think. In a couple of days, I'll know for sure.

UPDATE: No, she was not kidding. I picked up the paper yesterday evening, and sure enough, it was right there. Okay, then.

Vignette #2:

Last night, I showed up at a meeting for one of the boards on which I serve. Everything seemed normal, at least until I walked in the door. At that point, two of the board members turned and said, "Good, Fred's here! He can run the meeting." I cleverly replied, "What?"

As it turned out, both the president and vice-president of the board were off testifying at a zoning hearing (a hearing which they both swore up and down would be done well before the meeting was to start). As the treasurer, and thus technically the third in command, I was the highest-ranking person present, and therefore, it was my show to run.

At this point, a few thoughts went through my head:

1. I had not in any way prepared to preside over this meeting.
2. I had not even seen an agenda.
3. The meeting was going to be televised. Live. Starting in 5 minutes.

Fortunately, one of the board members present had brought a draft agenda, and so, we began. And having no idea what was going on at the hearing, I had no idea if the president and VP would arrive in a couple minutes, later on, or not at all. (Naturally, one of the first items on the agenda was a summary of the results of the hearing.)

As it turned out, they arrived 45 minutes into the meeting. In the interim, if I do say so myself, I did a fine job vamping and finding ways to fill time. We covered such agenda items as we could. We talked about community events that we had participated in recently. We talked about events that were coming up. I introduced our newest board member, and had him tell the audience about his background and interests. I put in an extended plug for the local farmer's market. I did everything but whip out my March Madness bracket and let the viewing public know how poorly my picks were doing.

It was, to say the least, an adventure.

So far, no one has called to tell me that I made an idiot of myself (of course, since it was televised on the local public-access channel, the viewing audience consisted of perhaps 5 people). I consider this a victory.

Posted by Mediocre Fred at March 27, 2007 09:46 AM | TrackBack

:-) Congratulations on the local acclaim -- it sounds like you're doing good things.

Posted by: PG at March 28, 2007 12:12 AM

These vignettes beg the question, of course, of when your campaign for Mayor will officially begin. Certainly your approval rating would be high going into the race.

First, of course, you'll have to declare a Town of Reston and the office of Mayor, but details, details...

Posted by: PapaShaft at March 28, 2007 06:25 AM

PG: Thanks! I like to think that I'm doing some good somewhere along the way.

Papa: What makes you think my campaign has not already begun? Although your idea of "declaring a Town" has definite appeal. Here we've been futzing around with this cumbersome referendum process, when all this time I could have just stood up and declared, "We're a town now!" What was I thinking? I will do this tomorrow morning, right after I brush my teeth.

Posted by: Mediocre Fred at March 28, 2007 10:45 AM

Here we've been futzing around with this cumbersome referendum process, when all this time I could have just stood up and declared, "We're a town now!"

That sort of thing works better when you're a judge. I notice in the list of people who know you, all are either executive or legislative. I suggest that you start sucking up to the judiciary.

Posted by: PG at March 28, 2007 12:31 PM

10-4. Any idea where I should go to start the judiciary-sucking-up process? Is there a club where they hang out? Do they like baseball? Maybe I can schmooze with them at RFK...

Posted by: Mediocre Fred at March 28, 2007 01:26 PM

Scalia used to play squash or some similarly WASPy Old Man game at the University Club, but says it's too inconvenient now with the security re-routing around the White House. I'm sure some of them like baseball.

Posted by: PG at March 29, 2007 05:58 AM

I hear that John Roberts is a Nationals fan. I'll have to look around for him at the opener...

Posted by: Mediocre Fred at March 29, 2007 01:22 PM
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