Doing my best imitation of a seasoned executive, I slid into position in the lunchroom turned boardroom , my sheath of columned numerical sheets in hand. Jars of dusty, second-hand cookies and duct-taped vinyl chairs swathed in scents of familiarity seemed obviously staged to lull and romance naive recruits into the lair of the inevitable.
The Review of The Budget.
Sheets and sheets of tidy columns, notations, disbursements, and parituculars which predictably elicit an unparalled adrenalin rush for type A accountants and strike cold, hard fear into the heart of the artist. Not unlike a grade six math drill with brainy Barry breathing down my neck on one side and the six foot twins Lydia and Linda on the other, I nearly yearned for an extraordinary response to stress like, say, profuse sweating, or heightened mental alertness. Some antidote to the familiar dull panic instantly saturating the left cortexes, swelling my fingers into thumbs of unmanageable girth, slowing my cat-like reflexes to excrutiatingly slow motion. As if in chorus, personal pheromones began to multiply at dizzying rates, secreting the unmistakable odours of terror and mathematical uncertainty into the underventilated space. Its organic fear-omonal messages rapidly filling the sensory regions of the board's treasurer.
As I shuffled my papers, the odour of my mathematical malfunction hung heady in the air.
Sighly heavily; He began......."Financial statement for the month of December.......Joyce. Are you with us?........ column 1- current month...........describes the Current Month. Unlike column B: As you see..... YTD indicates Year To Date.... Are you with us?........... Have you located the correct sheet of notations and balances? Is this clear? It is imperitive to understand- we'll be doing comparative assessments of these columns in following months."
My stack of loose sheets in disarray formed a sharp contrast to the orderly binders around me. I'd been duped.
Romanced into a board with little idea of its gruelling expectations. No one had ever grilled me on multiplication tables or spreadsheets. There had been no request for back copies of early years report cards. It had all been shrouded in a mysterious cultural ceremony involving "firsting", "seconding", and something about motion or notions.
And it was the notions that really sealed my fate. Line twelve of disbursements; (Financial Statement for the Month of December, 2009): Fabrics.
Aha! (thought I) A dim light in this labyrinth of mathematics. There were questions to be asked about the purchase of fabrics, the long term projections for the store's craft corner, the life expectancy of the current member in charge of buttons. The possibility of discarding mcc's lifelong compulsion to painstakingly card every matching button onto carefully snipped swatches of recycled greeting cards? The possibility of placing jars of mixed buttons on the shelves for discerning consumers not unlike myself?
A palpable chill swept the facility.
Button Lady peered at me over her spectacles; profuse twitches developing rapidly.
The secretary's neck began to vibrate and pulsate.
The treasurer shuffled his unwavering, dependable vertical arrangements of figures.
It had been tried.
The jars had sat there.
And sat there.
Button Lady's eyes shot sparks from behind those low-slung specs and her body began to rise every so slightly out of her chair.
I feared a levitation.
I feared a personal board breach of Levitical proportions.
I'd been symbolically thrown off the button board before I'd quite begun. That one small oppurtunity to endear myself to this seasoned aristocracy of Thrift Politics had been sullied to extents well beyond the bounds of charity and redemption.
Button Lady, Treasurer, Director, and Secretary sat well protected behind their credentials and binders while I reached carefully for my $1.00 purple thrifted coat and blotched accounts receivables. Wary in the knowledge that The holy grail of Board Etiquette had been overthrown by this novice beurocratic illiterate, I edged toward the exit; visions of board member grandeur brutally, unceremoniously, permanently aborted forevermore.