Monday, May 17, 2010
An Out of Ordinary Experience
Saturday, I got to have lunch at the place above. This is a conference room at one of the oldest and most beautiful hotels in Portland and I was invited to come eat lunch and accept a fat check from a foundation that is super nice to young teachers. Now, because going to a place that is more fitting for someone with a lot of zeros after a digit in their savings account balance and meeting people I don't know is my favorite thing to do, I felt super during this experience.
My super experience began with me coming in and helping a lady to pronounce my name. I later helped her pronounce it again. And again. Only for her to butcher it badly when I was called out to get my check. After that, I took a seat at an empty table because my sometime unsocial nature asked for a few minutes of lonesomeness in order to get used to this fit for the queen environment. After a few minutes staring at everything but the people close by, I decided to befriend a couple sitting at a different table. And so I moved. After exchanging a greeting and saying nothing afterward, I again found myself looking at everything but the people at my table who continued their conversation. Finally, I heard a different couple talking about a specific table they were supposed to be sitting at and it dawned on me that every one was ASSIGNED a specific table and NOBODY told me. So, yes I got up again and moved. For the third time. To people who ended drinking up from the two glasses I sipped from: I am deeply sorry.
This was an awesome beginning. I already felt clever and worthy of $5000 they were about to give me. When I finally settled down, I soon learned that at my table sat 1)the finalist for the best teacher of the year at our state and his wife, 2) three out of five trustees of the foundation who were at least two generations older than me 3) a principal of a local school and 4) a teacher who plans to do something really cool with the money he will receive. Absent was my vice principal who I planned on having to do all the talking for me. This combination of table mates made me feel super qualified and I had absolutely no problems engaging in their conversations about different types of wines, indigenous village in Costa Rica, and fancy restaurants of our town. Right.
I made a few attempts to contribute a few words of wisdom, but as expected, nothing thoughtful really came out. The highlight of the luncheon came not when I was handed the long awaited check but when the one thing I did contribute to the discussion was voiced out loud to the entire group by one of the foundation employees who sat at our table after which the whole group laughed. Though I did not mean for my contribution to be humorous I tried my best to laugh WITH them and pretend that I am a funny kind of person. This allowed for some reflection after the fact, let me tell you.
After doing much thinking and evaluating my behavior that day, I came to a conclusion: If I ever find myself surrounded by such environment again, I will pretend to have a strep throat and will WRITE all of my contributions to the table. In the mean time, I will enjoy paying for my graduate level classes with that check instead adding more zeros to my negative balance.