The district director, Warner, ran through the list of upcoming community events, then staffers in the District Office gave updates on the events they were planning.
The meeting was in full swing when Madame Senator came in.
“Good morning,” she said, lowering her shoulder bag onto her desk. “Somebody hand me a copy of the agenda.” She sat behind her desk and leaned back in her chair, changing out of her walking shoes into low-heeled red pumps matching her red skirt suit. I noticed we were wearing the exact same small gold button earrings, and the same colors. She reached in her desk drawer and pulled out a bag of cashews and began munching as Michelle handed her the agenda.
“So, what’s the status of the town hall meeting for my clean air bill? Why don’t I see it on this agenda?” she said, holding the page with both hands.
Michelle and Billy looked at each other puzzled.
“Senator, I don’t think you talked to anybody about wanting to do a town hall meeting on the clean air bill…” Billy began.
“I most certainly did!” The Senator insisted. “Michelle, I left you a message on your phone saying I wanted you to discuss it with staff and have details for me when I got in this morning. What do you all do in these staff meetings? We don’t have time for you to be sitting around giving reports. We’ve got to move! Warner, by twelve o’clock, I want a list of the venues available for a town hall meeting on this bill. My constituents need to know this thing is not dead and that I am still working hard to get them the same basic right to clean air as every other American.”
“Yes ma’am,” Warner said. “When do you want to have the event? This month? This Summer?”
“My Word! You all haven’t discussed this at all? I should at least have some possible dates and a list of venues…” she fussed.
“Madame Senator, I told you I did not get your m….” Michelle started.
“Don’t you dare cut me off!” she snapped. “You listen to what I have to say. Don’t you dare cut me off!”
Heads bowed, smiles faded. Sandra tried to make eye contact with Michelle, who was clearly annoyed.
“Now Warner, you get me that list ASAP. Who else is on the phone? Is Danielle here?”
“Yes ma’am,” came a voice on the phone.
“Get me a list of new experts on pollution, some folks who can bring some new perspective and new weight to the issue. You know I hate to repeat anything we’ve already done.”
“What else?” she said, looking at Michelle.
“We covered everything on the agenda. We were just about to wrap things up…” Michelle said.
“Sounds to me like all you all did was talk about what’s already been done! I can’t be the only thinker in here. That’s why we have staff. You all have got to learn to use your time more wisely. Think! Use your heads! What needs to be done!”
- Describe a time when you felt personally/professionally under attack.
- How did you handle it?
- What did you learn?
- How would you handle a similar siutation better in the future?