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Black tie and a fuckup

Posted by on August 24, 2007

Last night I went to an anniversary event for a local charity. I get assigned a lot of these stories (profile pieces, human interest), so I mostly knew what to expect. Or so I thought. The event started at 7:00, so I showed up at 7:20, having learned from experience that if you get to one of these things on time you stick out in a painful fashion and no one wants to talk to you.

So at 7:20 I walked through the door, and backed out in a hurry. All of the eight people milling around inside were wearing black tie, something the invitation email definitely had not specified. I was wearing a sundress and a corduroy jacket.

Hell, I thought. I’m going to have to chat up people in tuxedos while I look like a turnip-truck refugee.

Still, a job is a job. “When will things get started?” I asked the woman at the door, who gave me an odd look and said “It started at 5:30. This is pretty much the end of it.”

Ah. Again, I was misled by the invitation. Just to be certain the evening was a total loss, I asked about the media rep I was supposed to meet there, whom the staffers had never heard of and who was not on the guest list.

Undaunted, I made my way home and telephoned the charity offices. The woman who answered was utterly panicked. “I just got in,” she said. “I just work here. I don’t know about that.”

“That’s ok,” I said. “Maybe I can just leave a voicemail for whoever deals with press?”

“I don’t know about media!” she said.

“Okay,” I said, “I’ll call back tomor–” CLICK.

So now I am going to start making my calls in an effort to find out whether this charity even exists. If it’s just a money laundering scheme I guess I should expose it. If not, I guess I should interview someone. At least I know the dress code for today: PJs, bottomless coffee and cheerful cynicism. (On casual Fridays we at the home office are permitted to wear cheerful cynicism. On other work days, it’s strictly wry good humor.)

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