My favorite plays in high school were always those where the main character has a crisis of conscience. All My Sons. The Crucible. My favorite book is still Jane Eyre. I always dreamed I'd be faced with some big moral test and I could make a choice for virtue and morality. I love that scene in Spartacus. "I am Spartacus!" Love that. So Tony Curtis gets crucified. Big deal. At least he passed the big moral test. I've been prepping for my big moral test all my life. No big test. No one ever even tempts me. No Brief Encounter.
I mention this because one day at the office when I came in there were three people in the lobby: a young man who looked like a biology student on a field trek, a little dark girl about 15, and I guessed her mom, a blond woman.
"May I help you?" I asked, since our receptionist Sue wasn't there.
"We're here for a meeting with Susan," the blond woman said.
"Sue, the receptionist or Susan E_____, the owner?" I asked.
"Susan E_____", the blond said, "Please tell her Ana Alvarez from Mexico is here to see her."
"Certainly," I said, AND SCURRIED OFF TO DO SATAN'S WORK. (Ominous music)
When I found Susan, I had decided Ana was her foster child that she had adopted though one of those Sally-Struthers commercial pleas. The little girl had just lit up when I went off to find Susan.
Susan said, "Ana? From MEXICO?"
"Yes...you don't have a meeting with them?"
"Oh I'll MEET with them" Susan said boldly. "Let's get someone else to meet them with me in case they have a gun."
("A gun?" I thought. "Susan really is shy... I didn't know she disliked meeting strangers so much. Or maybe she's prejudiced just against Mexicans.")
Then she marched down the hall and Elizabeth happened upon her path.
"Elizabeth, there are some people here to see me and they're from Mexico." (significant look exchanged) "Come with me and help me see what they want."
Elizabeth was taken aback to hear Mexicans were this far North but she was game.
However, a few doors down the hall, Susan passed Mark's office and decided his first duty as new co-CEO would be to take Elizabeth's place holding off the Mexicans. Because you cant have the president and vice-president taken out by the Mexicans all at once.
So then, we were this band of brothers marching against the Mexicans: Elizabeth (who really wanted to go up against the Mexicans), Big Mark, who immediately delegated his job on the front line to another VP, Tom, and Susan who just kept accumulating more forces around her. And I kept bouncing like a puppy on the outskirts of this growing mob saying, "I'm never entering the lobby again. That's why you have a receptionist, Susan. To say 'She's in a meeting.'"
(Gary said if I were a good employee I'd have said "I am Susan E_____. What do you want?" Like "I am Spartacus." Not, "Sure, I'll go get Spartacus for you.")
So we have this band of five people, counting me, and right before we hit the lobby -- within earshot but out of view -- we decided only one person was going to face the banditos. So Tom (Lowest ranking person in authority) marched out and we all strained to listen.
Ana, it seemed was 15 and was very unhappy with the working conditions in Susan's factories. I didn't know Susan had factories The blond woman was her translator, not her mother, and I don't know why the guy was there. Perhaps to make it obvious to all but the most stupid that they were union rabble-rousers, because once I heard a little of the speech he looked increasingly less biologist and more communist.
Anyway Tom came back and said, "She appears to be discontent with the conditions in the factory. And she didn't want any computer training, so I let her go."
So then Susan explained she's on the board of Angelica Corporation, and THEY make uniforms in Mexico, in a factory, and there is an organization called Unite that is trying to unionize the Mexican factories. According to Susan, they do it by using deceptive practices, like making illiterate people sign union cards, and so on. And she had been warned that they had been going to board members and trying to intimidate them.
So, my big chance to step up and be brave and it slips through my fingers. Perhaps I'll have some other opportunity. Or perhaps you only get so many chances to make big dramatic gestures and I've missed them all. I'm tempted to almost have an affair with some doctor on a train just so I can NOT have an affair with him. With Rachmaninoff in the background.