Monday, May 12, 2008

One More Day Without Killing Anyone

That's good, right?

Although, I came close to having to kill someone today. I could feel the irritation slowly tingle into my hands as I contemplated throttling two school administrators this morning. Just a few fingers around their throats and squeeze. It'll all be over soon enough.


Maybe that's a little melodramatic.

However, there's nothing like completely unexpected and unwarranted rudeness to make my blood boil. At which point I have to pretend like I don't really care that I am being personally insulted for no apparent reason. Smile. Nod. Speak in a voice that doesn't betray how annoying I find the other person. Smile again.

That usually works to disarm the situation, but these two administrators were having nothing of my diplomacy. Instead, they just continued with disdainful attitudes.

So, what happened?

My partner and I arrived at a school to perform our presentation, just as we do every day. We signed in and were led by a very nice lady to the cafeteria, the space reserved for our performance. The audience would consist of eighty fourth graders; a large group for only having one performance time, but not too out of the ordinary.

Once there, it was obvious that the school had not prepared for our show. They had not cleared out any space for our stage, props, or an area for the kids to be seated and the show was supposed to start in less than 20 minutes. This happens frequently, so we asked the administrator, who had been waiting for us in the cafeteria, if the custodian could move some of the tables and chairs while we set up.

and....let the rudeness begin:

"Why would we do that?"

"um...what do you mean?"

"You don't need that much space. You can set up here." --she points to a space that is about 10ft by 10ft.

"Actually, we need a larger space in order to seat all of the students so that they will be able to see the show. If they are too far past the edge of our stage, they won't be able to see anything. They also will be able to see us behind the stage while we switch out props and puppets."

"This is ridiculous! They can just sit in the chairs at the tables!"

Taken aback by her sudden annoyance at being asked to move some tables, I pause for a moment, take a breath, and try again to explain calmly.

"Well, the tables can only seat a few students. If they sit at the tables at the very back of the cafeteria, they won't be able to hear us, and we won't be able to hear them when we get to the Q&A part of the show. Also, the tables at the ends of the cafeteria are so far over, they won't even be able to see the show. Normally, we have a large open area to count off the students and seat them in rows."

"Seat them in rows? Are you kidding me?! This is just crazy!" She shakes her head and throws up her hands in frustration.

Administrator #2 walks in during the conversation and has decided to throw her lot in with Administrator #1:

"Is this the first year you've done this? We have had this show for years, and we have never had to do this before!"

My partner jumps in, very calmly:

"We have been trained to set things up this way to make sure that all the students will be able to see and participate."

more eye-rolling, more head shaking, more under-their breath comments that were very audible, more muttering to themselves as they ask the custodian to move 4 tables.

The problem was that 4 tables wasn't going to be enough for us to set up and have room for the kids. We tried, very nicely, to explain how the show worked, and what we were doing, only to be glared at.

"Seriously, have you ever done this before? We have never, never had to do this before!" says Administrator #2.

"We are only trying to set things up the way we have been trained to set up by our boss who has worked in, and run the program, for 13 years."

I emphasize 13 years at this point because I'm starting to get tired of the uncalled for attitude and rudeness from people who asked for us to come to their school, only to treat us poorly. I am truly perplexed. Why would a school schedule performers, and then treat them as if they are imposing on the school by being there? Why would they bring guests into their school and personally insult them by questioning their abilities? Why would they, upon being told that certain needs must be met for the show to work, refuse and basically tell the performers," don't need that?"

And remember, this is all over moving a few tables....that have wheels on them.....and that fold in half...for easy storage and movement. It took all of 5 minutes.


If it weren't for the fact that it would have reflected badly upon my boss, and the non-profit I work for, I totally would have called them out for taking it to such a personal, insulting level. Their comments were completely inappropriate, uncalled for, and lacking in professionalism.


Oh, the things I could have said and didn't. I should really get some sort of prize. 8-)


Eugene said...

Grr. Sounds like they needed to prove some kind of point to themselves, and used you to do it. Probably best just to leave it be, and move on.

And not play it over and over again in your mind, like I usually do. :)

jackscrow said...

You obviously didn't take into account their recent bargaining agreement.

The contract says "No Reasonableness". (Is that a word? Not sure. Sounds like GWB.)

terri said...

I'm over it, now.