I am trying to write this early so I can go to sleep at 10. There is a meeting of Asian nonprofit directors tomorrow at 7:30am. These other nonprofit directors are all morning people, who, along with Tea Party Republicans and hipsters, are ridiculous. They have unexplainable, weird behaviors. For example they wake up at 5am and “go to the gym” and “have breakfast.” You call and ask them to go out for coffee, and they cuss at you and say stuff like “Do you know what time it is?! It’s 2am! I have to wake up and make a green smoothie in three hours!” They are not very friendly between the hours of 10pm and 3am, when I am most productive.
The forum last week actually went pretty well. I was not called a communist and driven out of the community like a rabid leper, forced to live among homeless people and woodland creatures. Over 50 people showed up in total, which was 40 more than we expected. They gave input on the strengths and weaknesses they saw in the Vietnamese community, as well as what they would like to see in ten years. Scanning the room, I was moved by how engaged everyone was, youth, young professionals, and elders. There was only one moment of tenseness, which was when I crossed by one focus group, and two elders were complaining about the question “What is one thing you would change about the community?” This question makes no sense, they said, it should be, What is one thing you would change about the community to make it better! For five minutes they argued, berating whoever came up with the question, until I came along and did some amazing diplomatic verbal gymnastics, including “Yes, sir, you are completely right” and “You elders know much more than we kids do! Please, pour your wisdom unto the empty vessels that are our brains.” They were appeased; the discussion continued. At the end, everyone was very inspired, and I was able to sleep peacefully for the first night in weeks.
The small neighborhood group of which I am the chair, meanwhile, is also going pretty well. I just found out that the 98118 zip code is the most diverse in the nation! Which means I’m chair of the neighborhood council of the most diverse district in the nation! Muahahahaha! Power, unfettered power is mine, mine!!! I think the group of 30 has gotten used to my style of leadership, which revolves around three principles: 1. Every meeting must have snacks; the Chair will not be hungry 2. Every meeting must start and end on time; the Chair must be back in time for Law and Order SVU and 3. We shall all sit in a circle, with no tables, so that the Chair can have better sights of assassination attempts. Lately we have been talking about what one project to tackle this year, “so we can tell our grandkids that in 2010, our neighborhood group accomplished something significant for our community.” I was thinking of having a statue built of me at one of the parks, but they were thinking of something like a celebration of diversity with food and music that everyone could enjoy. Fine, that doesn’t last as long as a statue, but I guess it’s a start.
Overall, I’m doing OK leading this neighborhood group and getting along with everyone. Except one. Joe, the 70-year-old Joe, whose perpetual scowl is like a sharp-edged scimitar dangling over my head. No matter what I do, he hates it. He doesn’t respond to buttering up, like the Vietnamese elders. One time I asked everyone to get up vote on something using stickers on a chart. He refused. What kind of person hates stickers?! Last meeting, we had an icebreaker for everyone to get to know everyone else. Everyone enjoyed it. Joe reluctantly participated, but throughout, his glare was fixed on me like that piece of chocolate I one dropped on the car seat and then accidentally sat on, but more bitter. I need to be liked by everyone! Everyone! What should I do? Here are some ideas. Vote now!
- Invite Joe to coffee. Ask him to tell stories about the “good ol’ days”
- During the meeting, steal one of his shoes. Then, when he’s trying to find his shoes, give it back to him. He’ll be grateful that I found his shoe.
- Find out where he lives. Show up one day with a pie.
- Plant several spearmint plants in his garden. Everyone loves fresh mint.
- Invent time machine, go back in time to when Joe was friendly, befriend him