Wednesday, February 24, 2016

"The Eternal Dilemma Of Special Treatment"

Some people, inexplicably, hate redheads.  “Gingers”, they call them.  Another pejorative, I cannot even bring myself to mention (although you can look it up.)  There is also “Rangas”, after orangutans, or, more specifically their color-matching posteriors.  Sorry about that.  I am simply passing this along. 

My primary prejudice, though not follicular in nature, to an outside observer might seem equally inexplicable. 

I despise, with a power that gets my innards churning to the point that I am sometimes required to lie down and take a nap…

The practice of special treatment for anyone.

Holding an even greater inimicality for the offspring of the wealthy.  Who, from their earliest moments, are the unceasing beneficiaries of special treatment – invariably without their even noticing it – having lifted nary a finger to have earned their charmed lives and pampered existences.

Let me be clear that I am not a Communist.  The distribution of income in this country may be far from equitable – ballplayers accrue incomes that are astonishing, not just to toilers in less lucrative lines of endeavor but to former ballplayers as well.  I have no difficulty with such disparities, if there are accomplishments to back it up. 

You earned it honestly?  Enjoy your five hundred-dollar haircut.  (Hopefully distinguishable from Supercuts.)  

When you have a prejudice, it is important, I believe, if you are unable to overcome it, to at least notice that it’s there, and to attempt to keep your responses when your prejudicial buttons are pushed conscientiously under control. 

And, of course, using my specific prejudice as an example, you must do your darnedest to eschew special treatment yourself.  (Note To Myself:  Try more frequently to employ the word “eschew”.  It seems to immeasurably elevate the discourse.)

The problem is, as with many prejudices one is struggling to overcome, one rushes sometimes to the opposite extreme.


Early in my career – although I had experienced success – regular work – and recognition – an Emmy Award and another nomination in two tries – I was invited to the filming of a new pilot, written and produced by my immediate bosses at the Mary Tyler Moore Company, Ed. Weinberger and the late and beloved Stan Daniels.     
It was the “hiatus” vacation period when shows are traditionally out of production.  (Which is also the time they make pilots.)  I had the day before returned from an extended vacation to Tahiti.  As I headed toward the studio, I happily reveled in my incredible good fortune.

Yesterday, I was basking in tropical splendor.  Tonight, I was a guest at a possibly historic television event!  (It wasn’t, but it could have been.)

There were no tickets for the filming.  It was “First come, first served”, in a gallery with a limited capacity.  I found the stage they were shooting in, I went to the end of the line, and I waited.  Maybe forty-five minutes.  Passing the time humming Tahitian melodies I had been regaled with on my recent excursion to paradise.

My Gauguinian reverie dissolved with somebody suddenly calling my name.  I open my eyes, and it’s Stan.

Wondering why I was standing in the line.

“I am trying to get in,” was my answer.  Or something equally transparent.

Stan immediately extracted me from the queue, escorting me straight into the soundstage, to a “Reserved” front row seat in the gallery.  Somehow, I was supposed to know that that was “Standard Procedure” for a person in my position.  I felt honored simply to be invited.  It never crossed my mind it was unnecessary for me to stand in line.

Was that an excessive reaction to my antipathy to special treatment?  I don’t think so.  Though my superiors got an incredulous chuckle at my expense.

Example Two:

I am in London. 

Once again, I am standing in an extremely long line, this time, outside the House of Parliament, where at the appointed moment, the number of people who will fit in the gallery will be invited inside for “Question Period”, a British parliamentary tradition during which members of the House of Commons question the sitting Prime Minister, often hilariously and extremely pointedly.

Today’s session looks to be additionally contentious, as the Prime Minister had announced that he would go back on his campaign promise not to “top off” (increase) college tuition fees, incurring an angry reaction, not just from the opposition party but from the Prime Minister’s own party as well.  There are reports of the possible chance of a “No Confidence” motion, meaning that the government could actually be toppled because of this controversy.  (Which the English laughingly pronounce controversy.)

All in all, it was “Big doin’s”, and I wanted desperately to get in there and witness the fireworks.

In line immediately in front of me was a, perhaps, eleven year-old girl and her accompanying parents, who had connections in government, and who, like me, were waiting patiently to get in.  Being garrulous, bored and colonially likable, I struck up a conversation with my proximate “line-mates”.   Marked by amiable banter, the ensuing interval passing quickly and enjoyably.

Moments before the scheduled “Door Opening” for “Question Period”, a man suddenly appeared – not dissimilar to the Stan Daniels situation – plucked the politically “connected” family out of the line, insuring their inclusion in the gallery by taking them in before everyone else.

As the family headed away, I caught sight of the young girl looking seriously in my direction.  I wondered if, at the last minute, she might tug sharply on her mother’s sleeve and exclaim,

“Mummy, can we ask that nice Canadian fellow join us?  He is ever so funny.  And he did so want to get in.”

It did not happen. 

Though, to my dismay and disturbance, I was secretly hoping that it would.

For shame and for stupid.

There was a line full of people out there.

Who exactly did I think I was?


JED said...

Did you get into the "Question period"? If so, was it as interesting as you'd hoped?

I'm sorry these are such routine questions. I guess I should also ask if you reviewed your own conversations with the family and wondered how you could have done a better job of insinuating yourself into their group?

Luke said...

This is a little different than being 'special.' A friend of a friend has a son who once played for the KC Royals, back in their woeful era. I don't remember the young man's name - he was not a household name. Whenever the Royals came to town, my friend would call her friend who in turn, would ask her son to leave X-number of tix at will-call. The first time, it went just fine, he left the tix and we got great seats. I do remember this kid came up against Randy Johnson in the 3rd and absolutely crushed a middle of the plate fastball about 400'. The next time he singled or doubled. The next time the Royals visited, we went thru the same ritual only the kid didn't leave the tix. I guess he forgot. We had to buy our own! That happened the next day too, so we quit asking.

Knowing somebody who knows somebody sometimes makes a difference.

A guy I went to school with, junior high thru high school, has a son who is a MLB pitcher, this should be his 10th season. Although he's in the NL, their team does come to town about every 6th year, but I have never asked him for tix - as much as I'd like to. I imagine that everyone who knows him is asking for tix. To sum up, apparently it's ok to ask a friend of a friend...