Wednesday, August 17, 2005


Look For The Union Label. Part Four

Part one, two, three.

Finally, I can have some edible food! Ok this is a big honking cafeteria, with several stations. Let me count them for you. Station one is what I call the waffle/pizza station. At breakfast they have belgian waffles; at lunch and dinner, they have assorted pizza. Station two is entree station. At breakfast you get omelets there; lunch and dinner you get kung pao chicken or pasta with shrimp, stuff like that. Station three is the meal station. For breakfast there, you get a plate with scrambled eggs, sausage, and shoestring style hash browns; for lunch and dinner, you'll get something like ribs, half ear of corn, and mash potatoes. Station four is the Joe six-pack section. Breakfast is pancakes or french toast, with McDonald's style hash browns; lunch and dinner are cheeseburgers or hot dogs, with tater tots or french fries. Station five is the cold breakfast and toast section. There they have all the cereals, plus bread for toast and bagels, which while I looked high and low, I could never find, even though every time I went back there, someone had a bagel they were slathering cream cheese on. Station six was the dessert and fruit section. Cookies, brownies, cheesecake, chocolate pudding pie, cobbler, and they always had apples, with some bananas from time to time. Oh and section seven was hot cereal and salad. Breakfast had oatmeal and cream of wheat, biscuits and gravy, and assorted melon type fruit; for lunch and dinner, there was soup and chili, with a salad bar and a huge assortment of toppings, probably more than I've ever seen at any restaurant.

So Monday's breakfast: scrambled eggs, country potatoes, sausage, oatmeal, chocolate milk, pancakes, McDonald's style hashbrowns, regular milk, ham and cheese omelet, biscuit and gravy, and Mountain Dew.

So I get to the meeting and oh my goodness how can I describe this room? Maybe the union-y platitudes can be summed up like this. There was a Gore/Lieberman poster on the wall. Who, you ask? Yes, that Gore/Lieberman. I mean that just seems like so five years ago. Wait a minute, that's because it was five years ago! Nice to know that the union is so current and forward thinking; it really helps to build confidence among the membership. "Hey we backed the losers two elections ago, and we're damned proud of it!" Maybe the whole Kerry thing is still too painful.

Now I shall tell you about our first activity in the Emerging Leaders group. You heard me. Somehow I got suckered into the Emerging Leaders group. Whoever signed me up was clearly drunk. We take a cheesy quiz to determine if we are thinkers, intuitors, feelers, or sensors. I really felt I was a thinker, but my intuition failed me and I ended up a sensor. Ha ha ha aren't I clever? Turns out there are twice as many sensors as any of the other three types. Best thing yet: the sensor group I am assigned to is conveniently assigned to the table I'm already sitting at.

Our task is to design a t-shirt that symbolized what the term "emerging leaders" means to us. We got markers, and big paper and everything! So weak. Their excuse? The trainers say they can watch us work and then they'll tell us about the different communication styles of the four types, and how we exemplified those styles within our groups. It's all about communication, you see. I can tell you that I am not bragging when I say that my group made the best t-shirt. In accordance with tradition, I expect it to be on the cover of next year's Emerging Leader binder and t-shirt.

I missed the gratuitous liberal shot last time, so here's two for you. First, one of our other groups had an interesting design for their t-shirt. I couldn't make it out from where I was sitting, but it looked like the shirt had pit stains. Fortunately, the explained it for me. "This is B.O. from Arnold and his evil propositions." Huge laughs. And completely unanimous minus one. Can this sort of monolithic thinking be healthy for anyone?

Second, at one speech by some bigwig, she mentions going to meet some state official and had some interesting comments on the decor. With a snide, dismissive tone, she says "He had a big picture of Reagan on the wall behind his desk, that'll give you an idea of where he's coming from" to lost of negative chuckles from the audience. This attitude among the presenters and audience members is a very sweet example of this announced expectation of one of the things we should be learning here, "We want to learn how to listen, without being prejudicial." Nope, no prejudice here.
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