“I’ve had it! I can’t believe after all I’ve done for them they would treat me like this,” fumed my co-worker between clinched teeth as she slammed the phone into its cradle while the rest of us ducked for cover. “What - they think I’m their slave? They don’t own me! Who needs them?”
Once again I had to listen to the venom spewing from my co-worker after a tennis tournament. When would she ever learn?
Every Thanksgiving and Easter the local country club hosted tennis tournaments. It gave locally ranked players a chance to compete and rub elbows with tennis celebrities. It’s all about making the Sunday society page. It would be more efficient if they offered mirrors instead of rackets for this bi-annual narcissistic gala.
Every year I have watched Cassandra work herself into total exhaustion battling against the social current to sit among the rich and famous. But this year she had outdone herself.
Cassandra, the youngest of six children, had married poorly. While her siblings had married well and achieved an extremely comfortable level of financial independence, she lagged further and further behind on the “Who Owns the Most Toys” game. Her husband’s one saving grace was he played a fairly decent game of tennis. Teamed with the right double’s partner, he could actually rank. So tennis paved her way into local nobility.
Strapped for cash, they had to find other ways to ingratiate themselves into the elite. They exchanged club membership for janitorial services. That got them in the club, it also rob them of all their free time. Cassandra achieved talking rights by volunteering to manage events. To her credit, she is an excellent party planner. I often encouraged her to start a business, but she said that was beneath her. Although how that is more demeaning than a janitor I’ll never understand. Truth is, she is more interested in being invited to the glitzy parties than getting paid to create them.
The first years were thrilling. She settled into the enabling behavior in exchange for the opportunity to circulate among tennis royalty. Graciously she accepted the fact that her work was always overlooked at the recognition banquet.
This year was different.
Two days before the event, the caterer decided it wasn’t worth the expense for the small amount of referrals they got. Cassandra had to find another caterer or the entire tennis tournament festivities would come crashing down on her head. That was not an option!
Cassandra is an excellent chef, organized, creative and very resourceful went into attack mood. Like I said, she could have a booming business. After she recovered from the shock, she purchased everything for the meal, threw in a few of her family specialties and worked feverously for the next 48 hours to prepare a feast for 500 tennis enthusiasts. Her only break was to come to work, and even then every free minute was on the phone tying up loose ends. On Wednesday, at five o’clock she punched out and headed for the tournament.
Mondays, after a long holiday weekend, are slow starting. Not today. Cassandra exploded into the employee lounge ranting and fuming about the tennis tournament. Seems the club was not going to reimburse her for the expenses incurred because the membership committee had not approved her as caterer. The absentee caterer got rave reviews in the society section for her specialties because their name was still on the program. Her husband came in fourth place denying him a trophy. Worse than all of that, she had overhead, the very women she longed to impress, the self-ordained club hierarchy, gossiping about her obnoxious ploys at acceptance. Finally calming herself she surveyed the room, put her hands on her hips and triumphantly announced to all of us, “If they ever ask me to help with their stupid tournament again, I’m going to tell them where they can stuff their turkey!”
…and that next Easter she did!
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