Exit Stage Right

Posted July 22, 2010

Marjory Tivlin is furious.  She is livid that she did not get to speak on stage during the event, and it’s all your fault.  I’m the Director of Public Affairs, the Mayor’s right hand, she says, and it was embarrassing that I came all the way here to read a congratulatory letter and you wouldn’t let me speak!

Never mind the fact that she’s nowhere near the Mayor’s right hand, more like his big toe, and the fact that the Mayor sent someone so low on the totem pole is a bit of an insult to the host organization.  Of course you can’t say that.  You just nod while she vents.

When she finally comes up for air, you point out that you had no less than five event staffers scouring the floor to find her, that she was supposed to arrive at 8:30, and scheduled to speak at 9:15, but as of 9:10 she was nowhere to be found.  Your staff at the check-in desk was on full alert for her, but somehow she slipped in like the wind and bypassed the table.  We wish you would have checked in like we asked, you say, or sought out any of the many people on headset radios to let us know you were here, like the other speakers.

How am I supposed to know who your people are, she bellows.  Well, they’re the only ones wearing radios on their heads, you say.  (Oops, that one slipped out.)  Don’t get snippy with me, she hollers back!  You fight hard to stifle the smile that always comes out when you hear the word ‘snippy’.  By 9:10 you had to assume she was a no-show and go to plan B, and notify the MC to instead read the Mayor’s congratulatory letter in her absence.

Never mind all that, she says, I was here!  It’s your job to find me.  We didn’t know what you looked like, so that would have been challenging, you say.  How could you not know what I look like, she demands.  Because you’re the big toe, not the right hand, you want to say.

It’s not as if things had gone smoothly otherwise.  The guest of honor, the chairman of a major corporation, had come in just before dinner to do a sound check, and you were all cued up for him.  Yet when he came to the podium at dinner, the goose-neck mic seemed to bother him, and he promptly pushed it away from him, messing up your audio sets.  For the first few words it’s impossible to hear him, so the audio tech jacks up the volume, which unfortunately means the mic picks up every possible sound up at the stage, including the jingling in his pocket he’s making with his spare change as a nervous tic.

The event raised a cool half a million, way beyond expectations, so you know your client will be all smiles.  You close your eyes, take a deep breath, and focus on that double vodka waiting for you at the end of the night.  You pull out the event planner’s escape hatch, press the headset closer into your ear, straining to hear the voice that is not there.  Copy that, you say to no one.  I’m so sorry, Ms. Tivlin, you turn to her, I’m wanted back stage.  Perhaps we can continue this conversation later?  You gracefully slip away, and flush Marjory Tivlin from your memory by the time you reach the ballroom.

2 COMMENTS

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  1. Howard
    anne
    July 23, 2010 at 6:58 pm Permalink

    Sounds like a pretty self involved person who blames others and make little attempt to put herself out there and make herself “found”! Lots of people employ this tactic and it is maddening!
    But–in businesss-you have to tactfully deal with this self important behavior. Not easy. Good you can pinpoint it and helpful to see how you deal with it. Keep writing!
    Love your articles!

  2. Howard
    Mike T
    August 11, 2010 at 12:50 pm Permalink

    Sounds like she would do her job for free – it gives her the right to use the “Do You Know Who I Am” gambit as she pleases. In her office, that probably works. Not in the real world.