Thursday, July 28, 2011

When I say Rafiki, I mean Crazy

     Since when does "yes, I can help you put books in boxes" translate to "I am willing to adopt your political views and fight a losing fight?"  I was going to write about this yesterday, but I wanted to be sensitive to the issue.  I was concerned that my rant would be misinterpreted, and in the case where someone who didn't know who the hell I was might be Googling my name to find out, I didn't want this to be the first thing they saw.  Now, I don't care.  I'm done being sensitive.  I was trying to be nice.  Think back to the scene in When Harry Met Sally when Bruno says he thought Harry liked the wagon wheel coffee table.  "I was being NICE!"  That's all.  I was just trying to be nice. 
     The back story: I'm not sure if I've mentioned that my improv classes take place in a schoolhouse - The Children's Studio School.  It's a charter school; it's a terrible charter school where young children are taught about life through art.  My first impression upon entering the school was "my mother would've never let me go here."  Well, the school lost its charter.  I don't know how long ago, but as far as I can tell, at least since before I've been taking classes ( least 6 months).
     Also, it looked like they lost their charter  in the middle of making some of these art projects.  Glue still pouring from the spout and the Mayor walked in to shut it down style.  I've been bothered for months by the horribly inaccurate solar system model they have on the wall.  The planets aren't in the right order, they're not even close to being to scale; it's awful. 
      So, about a week or so ago, the Managing Director of WIT sent out an email with a bunch of information on it.  One of those pieces of info was about the school closing down and how they needed volunteers to help them pack up the school.
      I know I've taken advantage of the school space, using it for extra practices when we weren't really supposed to be, etc.  And I'm not doing much, and I've been given the sage piece of advice in the past that if an organization you're a part of needs help moving boxes, just do it.  It can't hurt.  So I replied to the email saying I had some time; what kind of help did they need? 
     I finally heard back Tuesday night, from the crazy-pants woman in charge.  She was hoping I'd be available all day.  She asked for my phone number and if I was good at organizing papers.  I replied with my phone number and told her I was available in the evenings, after 4:30, and on the weekends if that was still helpful.
     She called me the next morning.  Normally I would have let it go to voicemail, but I forgot to turn my ringer off and I wasn't doing anything else anyway, so I answered.  Then the crazy floodgates opened.  They have done zero prep work for moving their shit out of the school because they were holding out on not losing the charter.  Now it looks like the fire marshal is coming down sometime that afternoon to really really shut them down.  She said she would still really appreciate my help; nobody else has offered and any help is appreciated.  I told her I could come down after work.  Then she asked if I was a writer, because she wanted to write a letter to the Mayor telling him that up until now, she hadn't gone to the press, but if the fire marshal comes to kick them out, she would.  She asked if I could write it.  She needed help making the letter respectful yet forceful.  To be honest, it is something I could do if I knew one damn thing about what she was talking about.  Again, this is the first time I've ever spoken to this woman.  She has no idea who I am, I don't know her.  As far as I can tell, she just wants to teach kids about feelings and colors. 
     I very diplomatically got out of it saying I wouldn't have time to get my work done and do such a quick turn around for such an important letter.  She was understanding, but still crazy.  I don't actually think she's homicidal crazy, but maybe crazy in that fun way where she doesn't see why people would be so upset when their kids can't identify plants and numbers. 
     I went to the schoolhouse after work.  She let me in and started in immediately about the letter again.  I described her later to Mary as "Rafiki-from-the-Lion King crazy."  I stand by this description.  Rafiki with dreadlocks.  She described what the letter would say and asked again "is this something you could do?"  Technically, yes, it is something I could do.  Will I do it?  No.  Not at all.  I told her "that's not what I signed up for."  She was taken aback and said I was very blunt and straight-forward.  Good, I'm glad.  I was hoping that was the end of it, but it wasn't.  She accused me of being mean, and I just and I reiterated "I'm just here to help pack boxes.  I have no vested interest in the school."
      Then I packed up boxes of books from the art library.  Sex books.  There were a lot of sex books in this school library.  I'm not a prude, but I would have a hard time sending my kid to a school where Sexercise, The Kama Sutra, and Men in Heat* were in its library.  Another fun fact about packing up the library: they gave me 3 boxes.  Eventually they found more, but clearly their spacial reasoning had been shot to hell by all that damn impressionism.  They still didn't have enough boxes.  I was able to find a few of those file boxes that you assemble.  They actually worked pretty well.  Apparently someone else had also tried this approach but didn't know how to assemble the boxes.  I didn't pick up those boxes; the books *will* fall out of the bottom.
     I left when I had used up all the boxes.  I stuck my head in Rafiki's office to tell her I was leaving.  "Thanks so much.  Can you come back tomorrow?"  "Yeah, sure."  See?  I'm too goddamn nice. 
     If she asks me to write the letter again, I might, but it'll say this:
Dear Mayor,  You're not closing this place down fast enough!  What are you doing for your lunch hour?  Go! Go! Go!
Exhibit A- This book.
Exhibit B- These planets.
Exhibit C- The shitty mixed media projects all over the damn walls.
Burn this to the effing ground.
Kisses!  Nancy
*The book wasn't actually titled Men in Heat.  I don't remember the title, but its contents were black and white photos of naked men doing all kinds of things that I shouldn't describe because this might be considered a family friendly blog.  No?  It's not.  Even so.  The contents would make the title Men in Heat very apropos.
That's what I get for being nice.

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