turning point (a story)


Circa Fall, 2009
Miss Zendy
     Miss Zendy had ambitions. She was the California community college system's most celebrated Academic Senate President, a David who slew a Goliath. But she wanted to go into administration. Just think what she could do there? So Dom said, “you need to make peace with The Fountain.”
     “Really?”
     “Yes,” said Dom. That’s my advice to you.”
     Dom had been working with Miss Zendy on a committee for months. He realized that she was smart, hard working, and sincere. He liked her and wanted to help her.
     And so the day came and Dom, The Fountain, and Miss Zendy met. 
     It was horrible. The F-ster commenced berating her. He accused her of things. She was, he charged, the reason that he had to spend money on his reelection as trustee. Imagine!
     Of course, that wasn’t true at all. It had been the union, not the Academic Senate, that targeted The Fountain for moneyed pushback, and no wonder. But the Old Boss, an inveterate ideologue, could only see faculty the way he had always seen them—as union featherbedders and deadbeats. And, as far as he was concerned, there wasn’t a nickel’s worth of difference between the senate and the union. They formed one lazy, un-American unity. They were the enemy. 
     Dom must have been horrified, but he said little. Miss Zendy took it. The assault continued. Finally, The Fountain said, “for as long as you’re in this district, you won’t be going anywhere—unless you agree to be mentored by me.”
You need to make peace with F
     The Fountain was, of course, famous for his embrace of “mentorship.” Some of his mentoring, of course, raised eyebrows, occurring, as it sometimes did, in the sauna down at the Balboa Bay Club and other similarly curious locales.
     The mentees were generally vibrant young men. He liked to buy clothes for them, take them to fancy dinners, and so on. No doubt, from the perspective of The Fountain, he was making a great exception here, a terrible sacrifice, offering to take on—well, a woman.* 
     Miss Zendy did not appreciate that sacrifice. She merely felt assaulted. Eventually, she broke into tears. And she almost never cries. “Crying,” she likes to say, “is stupid.”
     But cry she did. And the tears kept coming. (I’ve seen this; it is a terrible thing.) She excused herself, went to the ladies’ restroom. She called a friend. “Say something about how it’s a nice day,” she sniveled. “Please say something nice.” She returned to the meeting and then excused herself, saying to The Fountain, “It’s been great meeting with you.”
     She walked straight out of the building and to her car. Shaky, she made her way home. Her cell phone rang again and again, but she ignored it. She ignored it for hours.
     “I am so very sorry,” said Dom, over the phone, hours later.

* * *
Circa October 2009
Yet another Blathurian connivery
     So, when the time came, Miss Zendy applied for the new dean position. But then a big problem arose from out of nowhere.
     It was Gu Blathur, the Chance. The fellow hated Miss Zendy going way back. No doubt there were a small handful of faculty for which Blathur reserved his most intense hatreds. I’m sure that I was on that short list. (Still am.)
     And so was Miss Zendy.
     The Chance had called HR. He told a classified employee there—a Miss Toby—that applicants for the new IVC dean position must have the right degrees, and JDs are not the right kind. “But I think they are,” she said. “No, you will not accept applicants with only JD degrees,” he instructed her.
     And so she did as she was told. Naturally, Miss Zendy discovered that her application had been rejected. She found out why. She immediately made some phone calls. They led to a phone call to Dom.
     Dom was surprised. How could this be? Dom himself had a JD degree (i.e., he was an attorney). How could it be that someone with his degree was not qualified for a deanship at IVC? Surely there was some kind of misunderstanding here.
     He called HR and talked with Miss Toby. “Is it true that you are rejecting candidates with JD degrees?” “Yes,” she said. “But why?” “Those were the instructions I received.” “From whom?” “From the Chance.”
     Dom immediately went to Blathur. “Is it true,” he asked, “that you instructed HR to reject any applications for the dean position from applicants with JD degrees?” 
     Blathur had been in such spots before. He knew what to do, of course.
     “Of course not!” he said. “Why would I do something like that?”
     It was clear, of course, that Blathur was simply lying. Why would Miss Toby make this story up? Blathur had been caught red handed, and he was going to handle it in his usual way. Baldface lying.
     Blathur had plainly lied in the face of the Dom. That was the beginning of the end for Blathur.
The Fountain, thwarted
     Dom called Miss Zendy. “I don’t understand what’s going on here,” he said. “You are now in the loop,” she said somewhat caustically. “Many of us have experienced Blathur’s lies and manipulations. And now so have you.”
     Miss Zendy had been among the perennial chorus of Blathur detractors. They had annoyed Dom. Dom had always blown that stuff off as mere politics. 
     He had been dead wrong. Blathur, it turned out, was exactly what his detractors said he was. Now, Dom was furious.
     He went to The Fountain. “Your boy Blathur instructed HR to reject applicants for the dean position if they have a JD degree,” he said. “Obviously, a JD degree should be sufficient!” But The Fountain was prepared. He simply disagreed with Dom’s assessment. The Chance, said The Fountain, was in the right. “You mean to tell me,” said Dom, “that I am not qualified for that silly dean position at IVC?” “No Dom,” said The Fuentes, “you are not qualified.” He was standing by his boy and he was dissing Dom and his JD.
     That was simply too much for Dom. Soon, he and The Fountain, the Boss Man, commenced screaming at each other. They nearly came to blows.
     There was no turning back now. Though Dom was smack dab in the middle of his big shot at the State Assembly—The Fountain was his campaign advisor—he was now going to sink that bastard Gu Blathur come hell or high water. If it meant going against the Big Boss Man, Mr. G.O.P., then so be it. It was going to be hard, very hard. But he would do what he had to do. (And, of course, he succeeded.)
     It was upon this point—this clash over the adequacy of the JD for a deanship and Blathur’s lie—that the destiny of the SOCCCCD turned. On this point, the board majority shifted against Blather and The Fountain. 
     Now, nothing would ever be the same again.
     Never, ever.†

*Dornan Primary War Leaves One Bitter GOP Hangover: Dana Parsons; LA Times, June 17, 1992. Eileen Padberg expressed a view shared by many women about Tom Fuentes and his crowd

On the other hand, Miss Zendy never got the administrative gig she sought. I've heard many stories about how that went down. Not sure what to believe. I think that there was some sort of event that suddenly took her out of the running. Not sure what it was and who was behind it. But she seems to have left all of that stuff behind her. Good.

SEE ALSO Last night’s board meeting: eyes have been opened (June 25, 2008)

1 comment:

believer said...

Say it isn't so!