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Meetings I’ve known


The worst meetings it was ever my misfortune to attend were run by a “light” colonel. As editor of the post’s newspaper I was expected to be in the room but was never sure why. I was in good company as there were another dozen in the same boat: we were ordered to attend. What I was sure of was that the colonel ran a meeting that was as long as it was worthless. Any topic could be picked apart including sports and soap operas. Nothing was ever decided even if it took all morning to get there.
The lieutenant colonel’s replacement, a major, ran the best. Offer something off-subject or not worthy of his attention and he’d cut you off at the knees. Kind of like President-elect “you’re fired” Trump. While this makes a decidedly short meeting, it also develops a culture of yes men.
The most fun meeting hands down was the Beef Days Committee. They were/are held at the Solon American Legion. Attendees– anyone who happened by plus the people who were doing the work– were allowed to drink free for the evening. Things ran late, sometimes very late, but no one complained, including me.
As a reporter for this and other newspapers, I also squirmed through more than a few city council and school board snorers. I saw time and again how a meeting’s length can expand to the amount of time allotted for it. Over the years, I got to hate these slices of death; time I’d never get back. It got to the point where I’d break out in a rash just touching an agenda.
But it’d been many years since I’d gotten out of the business and I was eager to experience how a meeting of the Water Keepers would go.
The setting certainly was unique. Outside the geodesic dome the temperature was a freezing zero; inside it was a relatively balmy 40 or so. The only source of heat was the hundred or so bodies arranged in concentric circles around a circular rug. People in the inner rows sat in low chairs, the rest stood.
Of the 10 people I heard speak, only two were on topic. One man reported loud and obnoxious behavior in a far corner of the camp and asked for a greater security presence. The meeting leader promised action. Another man addressed the council in Cherokee and than translated to English as he spoke. He was a newly arrived delegate from a far away tribe and he was announcing his arrival.
A couple of other speakers were totally off topic, especially one middle-aged Caucasian-looking woman who went to great length to explain that while technically she had no Native American blood in this life, she was positive that she was a full-blooded Indian in a previous visit to this world. The remarkable thing was that through her ramblings no one rolled their eyes (well, maybe I did a little mentally) or showed any sign of impatience.
That’s about it. Originally in my mind this installment was to be about the one meeting and not a rehash of meetings attended in the past. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized I had too small of a sample to reach any conclusions.
I’ll try to wrap this up next week and move on.