Sunday, February 03, 2008

Shocker

I'm going to present in detail a report of a recent strange and disturbing episode....

At my social club I started a movie club, and was looking for a place to show the movies--where we would choose the movies and introduce them--where there was a big TV. I had asked other members if they wanted to be on the movie committee, and among those who said yes was xxx. I didn't know him at all, but had heard that he could get angry--he had engaged in verbal fisticuffs with someone at our book club, I've been told.

He phones me and says he is arranging to have the local library show our films. Cost: only $110 a session. Only $4 or so a member. No way, I said. We don't want to pay anything. OK, maybe $2.

He calls back. The library MIGHT let us have it for free! He's 90% certain. Great! I tell him.

He calls back--yes, we can have it for free! But the library wants to call it Classic Films. Ok, we'll call it Movie Lovers--no big deal. Oh, and the general public must be invited,too. Well, OK, I say. I hope our social club approves.

xxx keeps telling me what a great negotiator he is.

We'll meet with library officials. (I had never met xx before,by the way.) I'm a little late, and xxx is very angry with me. But I apologize.

Library people tell me that owing to a parking problem, they'll have to check when there's a time slot to show our films. xxx says fourth Tuesday. I'm surprised--I had asked for first Tuesday--and repeat my request. The time they give me isn't great. Conflicts with other meetings.

A librarian says we should check the town's movie program-maybe we could arrange a deal. She hands the name of the contact across the table--and xxx takes it and puts it in his pocket. I'm annoyed. (I thought, mistakenly, that there was an organization called Towne.)

Librarian tells me only I can give talks--no one else, no one without credentials. Do I have credentials? I email them my credentials. (Not much, to be sure.) They are pleased and complimentary.

In emails, I tell them I'd like to start with Passion of Joan of Arc. Librarians say: No silent film, we want a big turnout.
I say how about Counsellor at Law, with Barrymore. They suggest: Citizen Kane. And they give me websites with names of high-ranked movies! Apparently they want to decide which movies to show. I'm disgusted. Ciitizen Kane? Everyone's seen it.

I write back: How about we start with Counsellor, and if that doesn't go over big, we switch to Citizen? And I send over a list of libraries in Bergen County that have tapes of Citizen Kane: All or almost all of them! None has Counsellor.

Librarian writes back: She'll talk it over with head librarian.

And I decide: If they say no, I'm out. They want it all. This would then become the library's movie program--with me as host. Unpaid. My social club would be invited--and have no control at all.

To me my request is reasonable.

Next day, I go to work--I work Wednesdays, in a cubicle with no phone. And I write to xxx:

I am thinking... of giving up on the library.

And all hell breaks loose! ...


****************
warren

are you serious?

after the wonderful e-mail you received from yyyy..

telling you in LAUDITORY terms how much they'd bend over backwards to accomodate you!

please call me at 201-000-0000
i'll be in the rest of today

looking foward eagerly to talk to you
best
xxx

My response--

xxx--

Have you called the Towne? To see if it can accommodate us?

We want

1. Members leading talks--not just me--
2. Members only (ideally)
3. A good time slot for members.
4. We decide which movies to show.

Warren

from xxx

what is going on???

who did you speak to ??

where did this list come from?

cannot negotiate unless i'm totally clued in!!!

please call

are you suddenly unwilling to speak to me??????

IF YOU DON'T CALL ME I WILL NEVER SPEAK TO YOU AGAIN!!! (in red ink)

I reply:

I'm at work.

Next, he sends me this thunderbolt--in the header, THIS IS WHAT I AM GOING TO SEND TO THE LIBRARY


DEAR yyy AND zzz

I APOLOGIZE FOR WASTING YOUR TIME...

WARREN HAS SUDDENLY GOTTEN COLD FEET,AND IS MAKING IMPOSSIBLE DEMANDS THAT HE WANTS ME PRESENT TO YOU.

IT IS AS IF HE DOESN'T RESPECT WHERE THE LIBRARY IS COMING FROM, HASN'T HEARD YOU, AND DOESN'T REPECT THE LIMITATIONS AS A PUBLIC FACILITY YOU MUST MEET.

SO HEREBY CANCEL ANY RELATIONSHIP WITH THE [social club] AS TO THE CLASSIC MOVIE ENDEAVO.

WARREN DOES NOT WANT TO WORK WITH YOU,AND IS NOT MANLY ENOUGH TO TELL THAT TO YOU IN PERSON F ACE TO FACE.
SO ONCE AGAIN, THANK YOU FOR CONSIDERING MY PLEA, AND MEETING IT TO A GREATER EXTENT THAN I THOUGHT POSSIBLE.
YOU HAVE MET US MORE THAN HALFWAY, AND I AM TOTALLY EMBARASSED AND DEEPLY APOLOGIZE AGAIN FOR BOTH OF US BEING SO MISLED.

HAVING MET THE TWO OF YOU, I FEEL INDEBTED TO FIND WAYS TO ASSIST THE LIBRARY IN THE FUTURE WITH WHATEVER ENDEAVORS I CAN MAKE.

WITH MY DEEPEST RESPECT
xxx


THANK YOU AGAIN FOR THE CONSIDERATION YOU HAVE GIVEN

***

I am shocked. I write: Do not send that letter.

I also wrote him: They have met me more than halfway? Are you nuts?


I think: All I've done is challenge the library to let me choose the first film. And xxx says I don't want to work with them? I'm not manly enough to tell them so? I've made impossible demands? They have met me more than half-way--when they want everything?

I once read that distorting reality is a reliable marker for insanity.

I finally get home, and there are wild and angry phone messages from xxx. "I'm furious!" he says.

I phone him. I lose my temper. He is no longer to deal with the library. He is no longer on the movie committee. YOU'RE FIRED! I shout. And hang up.

He sends me a final abusive email message. I don't respond.

But I email the library the next day--is the first movie going to Counsellor? The librarian is cool. They are going to choose all movies, but I can be a guest lecturer if I wish to be. Many thanks! I write back.

And I wound up making an arrangement with the "town" to show movies once a month. Club members can lecture. We can choose the movies.

At night trying to go to sleep....I ruminate about this crazy episode.... My conclusions to follow.

***

xxx was eager to take control of the club. He was eager to ingratiate himself with the library. He might have told the librarians (when I wasn't there): "I"ll get you whatever you want. I'm a great salesman."

He knows (he thinks) how to win people over: Put a spin on things. They are so laudatory! They have met you more than half way!

He knows how to get his way (he thinks). Call me or I'll never speak to you again! (He also threatens to take me off his mailing list--he sends out emails about politics--which I usually delete

But when I write: "I'm thinking...of giving up on the library" -- he's threatened. I'm not falling for this crap.
His hopes of getting an in with the library--of perhaps being HIRED--are flying out the window.

I was the mark--but I stopped behaving like a mark.

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