Attack of the Tomato
Contributed by: Ralph Schillace
I am a recently joined COG and I am loving it. It has been great fun reading the articles and listening to the pod casts. I have always wanted to be a big wheel, but now I will settle for being a vital tooth on a big wheel gear.
The best part of being a COG is having lived long enough to have accumulated some stories. What is life anyway if it doesn’t result in some good memories shared as good stories? Here’s one on me for you – one that reminds me that modesty and caution are always good ideas.
I went back to school for some clinical psychology training after I had been a tenured professor. This meant that I would be the student, not the teacher. I did this at a major hospital in Detroit and I was accepted as the beginner I was and I assumed my role as intern without too much complication. Much of the year went by without incident.
As I progressed in my learning and I suspect as the staff realized I understood my place, they decided that perhaps some of my professional skills might be useful. A particularly formal and stodgy supervisor took a chance and invited me to a hospital luncheon where grant agency dignitaries were to come to meet with hospital personnel to consider them as prospective grantees. The point was to make a good impression. Not my cup of tea, but I could not say no.
The luncheon was an instant disappointment only destined to get worse. The fare was plentiful salad and little more. Multiple salad dressings seemed to be the consolation prize. In the hopes of making a lean cuisine more exciting, I soaked my salad with the creamiest dressing I could find and dotted my plate with ample cherry tomatoes.
I found my place at the table next to my supervisor. I could not help noticing that her outfit this day was particularly upscale and refined. I was no slouch myself in my navy blue blazer, white shirt and tie. I thought we were about to make a good impression for the hospital with the dignitaries at the table.
I proceeded to engage my salad. My first move was a big mistake. I tried to cut a substantial tomato with my fork and knife. The tomato shot off my plate, loaded with a hefty amount of creamy dressing over to my supervisor’s arm and lap. She and I both stunned, I tried to retrieve the errant tomato by reaching across my salad thus scraping my arm into the generous dressing on my lunch. Now my jacket was dripping with salad and my supervisor was alarmed that I would follow the tomato shot with a dressing barrage. She need not worry. Instead I abruptly left the table, went to the men’s room and began to furiously rub my creamy jacket sleeve with the brown paper towels contributed by the dispenser. The towels quickly disintegrated, leaving my sleeve, which I had also rubbed against the front of my jacket, not only creamy but speckled with globs of brown, wet paper. The more I rubbed the worse it got.
Well, after cleaning up the best I could, I returned to the table. Most were nearly done eating. I faced this large mound of salad and dressing which lost all appeal. I thought a sincere apology might move things forward. I said I hoped no damage was done to her fine suit only to get the response that it was new and silk and that she was not happy. I never did talk to the dignitaries nor finish my lunch. What I took away was something to laugh about later and some good advice for myself about not cutting cherry tomatoes.
Buffalo Duke (Ralph Schillace, Ph.D., www.ralphschillace.com )