A TeleCon with the Island of Damaged and Misfit Toys

Last evening I participated in the worst, most poorly planned, and executed telephone conference I’ve ever had the misfortune to be on. I’d been asked by a dear sweet man for whom I have a great deal of respect to take the minutes for our chapter at the State Party Meetings, a monthly telephone assemblage of the Administrative Committee Members. I’d accepted with reluctance and was not looking forward to the tedious task but was resolved to fulfill my responsibility. I arrived on the call early having navigated the conference access procedure, a laborious process that required dialing several different phone numbers to gain access due to the conference service’s annoying habit of switching the numbers several times, for God only knows what reason, before I could enter the secret pass code and be allowed on to the group call.

When finally quorum was reached and the meeting began, I learned that my presence was not needed after all because there was a woman on the line who would be taking the minutes instead of me, whew, I could just sit back and enjoy, maybe even learn something.  I’m not a chatty person, I can barely tolerate being in the same room with most humans, so being on the phone was tantamount to having seven or eight disembodied voices inside my head. To add insult to injury the majority of these individuals made up for their lack of preparation with copious amounts of verbosity. None had the slightest modicum of public speaking skills although; at times it did appear that they thoroughly enjoyed the sound of their own voices. If I’d had the presence of mind and wasn’t writhing in mental pain I would have counted the “ers”, “ahs”, and “ums” but instead I concentrated on the content, or lack of it, for what the speakers were attempting to convey.

I approach speaking in public much with the same methodology as I do cloths shopping. Know exactly what you want to obtain and its location in the store, get in and get out with alacrity. But to my dismay that was not a philosophy shared by the AdComm members. Several labored over what they had to say almost as if they’d not given any prior thought or consideration for the content of the task at hand. This, I felt, was inexcusable because I’d received the meeting agenda before hand and read it, though I’d missed the call in number completely, so why weren’t these intelligent, caring individuals more prepared?

It got so bad on occasion that I imagined placing my loaded pistol in my mouth several times, a definite indication that if I didn’t resign my newly appointed membership directly one of two outcomes was certain. I’d either rip my ears off or I’d say something to the group that would be totally inappropriate and regrettable. This is why I’m writing about it instead. When a thing happens and gets stuck in my mind the only way to expunge the demons and disturbing thoughts that have been summoned, that kept me awake musing about them half the night and awaken me at the ungodly hour of 04:45 A.M this morning, is to write about the disturbing cause of my insomnia.

The conference began at 07:00 PM and didn’t adjourn until after 09:00 PM. Two frickin’ hours of torture that was totally avoidable if the AdCom Committee would have subscribed to some simple rules before joining a political party in the first place.

  1. Don’t try to be an orator if you speak with the verbal skills of a child, or an unfortunate person with a BI (brain injury).
  2. If you are called to public service anyway by vocation or avocation and simply must speak publically then invest in a Public Speaking class.
  3. Be organized, you’d think people attempting to start a political party would have organizational skills up the wazoo, but not this crowd, they could barely string two coherent thoughts together without conducting an inner monologue.
  4. Be brief, for God’s sake be concise and to the point.
  5. Under no circumstance take the meeting as an opportunity to give an impromptu dissertation on your favorite subject regardless of how passionate you feel about the topic or how socially relevant you deem it to be.

Obviously, despite the best efforts of the incipit, weak, and ineffective moderator, the meeting ran over its time limit. Then beyond all reason or comprehension the moderator asked for individual feedback on how the meeting went, my incredulity knew no bounds at this point and with immeasurable restraint I declined to reply and excused myself by stating that since this was my first and only meeting of this type, (a boldfaced lie because I’m a steward at my church and attend meetings all the time that are far more detailed, intricate, and complex than what I witnessed last evening but we have the benefit of talented members and a skilled and effective leader), that I was unqualified to answer. I tendered my resignation after the meeting to my chapter’s chairperson but was left fuming and incapable of finding solace in the oblivion of sleep; my inner imps had been loosed.

Now I’m left with the distasteful task of deciding whether or not to share my observations, frustrations, and anger with the committee in the hope that my salutary comments may do some good or have a positive result. Since this is a scathing commentary and indictment on the meeting and the talents of the group as a whole I’m leaning toward keeping these words to myself as a function of my ruminations and demon expulsion rather than a guide for what I can only describe as inhabitants from the Island of broken and misfit toys of whom I am a member. But while I ponder what my next steps should be it becomes clear to me that the very short comings that I’ve so recently described and attributed to the members of the Administrative Committee are the very characteristics that attracted me to them in the first place. Their lack of slick professional Organizational Development skills is what makes the Party so admirable. No smooth easy taking, suave bafflegab here, no sweet corporate argot to confuse their meaning, as perplexed and disjointed as it seems to my ear their cognitive dissonance is what appeals. It is instead the voices of those who have an intimate understanding of what it is like, exactly, to be the downtrodden, voiceless millions that the Party seeks to lend a voice to; what it must feel like each and every day to be outsiders politically, economically, and socially. All those people who are locked out of their government simply because their brain functions differently, they never got a seat at the cool kid’s table at school, or were less fortunate when God dispensed the gifts of social graces, an affinity for reading comprehension, or a combination of all those skills that would have made them winners and successful at negotiating life’s dialup conference calls. The very thing that has raised my ire and summoned my evil spirits is the bet noir that I must now face because I recognize those self same foibles clearly in myself. Yet I cannot participate in this group they way it is currently structured, I would do more harm than good, my inner fiends would wreak havoc on the Isles of Misfit Toys. I will instead remain behind my wall of words, safe and protected. I will seek to serve the Party in other more concrete ways. I will try to build a bridge to the Island of Damaged and Misfit Toys using the only skill I have at my disposal, my armor of words.

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