By Bill Oakey – July 26, 2014
This blog posting is a tribute to a special friend that I have not even met in person. Her name is Roberta. She follows this blog and often challenges me with good questions and interesting thoughts to ponder. Like many of us, it appears that she is prone to occasional bouts of whim and fantasy. I should know all about that. My biggest creative influences growing up were Rod Serling and Richard Matheson, and others with a sweeping capacity for wild and adventurous imagination.
Here is what Roberta slipped into a message that she sent this morning:
I must admit that I love her styling! Such a cool font, and just the color that I happen to like. How could she have known that?
There was another time, back in the old days, when people used to entertain suggestions about me running for City Council. So, what I did was try to imagine what that might really be like. Here’s what I was told by a top aide to the mayor at the time. When you run for office, all of your friends turn out to cheer you on. You see those same friends and meet new ones every single day. They are just like you. They want grassroots representation at City Hall. They want you to stand up to the special interests. You are surrounded constantly by the best people you would ever want to meet. The excitement of the campaign builds to a fever pitch.
Then comes Election Day.
Then comes the Victory Party…
Then, your friends practically lift you off the ground, as they clap and holler and raise the roof off the place. You WON!! TV cameras start glowing. You start glowing. You go to bed that night, thinking it was the biggest night of your life. And maybe it was.
By the next morning, if not sooner, things begin to shift just a little. People that you never spoke to during the campaign suddenly start smiling at you. I’m talking big, wide smiles. They dress a little bit nicer than some of your friends. Maybe a whole lot nicer. But it’s their demeanor that really stands out. They approach you like that long lost roommate that you haven’t seen in 25 years. They’re so happy to see you, and they can’t wait to sit down for a chat.
Then, as you pull your chair up to the table, your brand new friend hands you a business card. That person behind the smile wants something from City Hall. Something that you probably campaigned against.
From that point on, your life changes completely.
Suddenly, it becomes a lot trickier to determine who is your friend and who is not. What they say to your face and what you hear that they said behind your back may be two different things. But still, you try your best to get used to it.
After you move into your new office, you look forward to greeting the friends that surrounded you during the campaign. But where are they? Why don’t all of them show up on your calendar? The reason is really simple. They are just too busy, with some of them working two jobs to take care of their families. But your calendar is full. There is no shortage of people with plenty of time on their hands. Because they will be paid to come and see you.
The bottom line is that you have two choices. Try to be nice to all of them, even if you plan to vote against some of their requests most of the time. Or, brush them all off and sit alone in your office with nobody to talk to except the walls.
Ah, but there are some advantages. Restaurants that you could never afford to go to suddenly show up on your calendar. The check is never placed next to you at the table. Tickets to plays, concerts, and all manner of things drop out of the sky. Lavish parties. Schmoozing events. Comedy shows…
Speaking of comedy shows, did I forget to mention those long Thursday meetings down on Second Street? The ones that start at noon and sometimes don’t end until 3:00 the next morning?
It’s not that I don’t have lots of things in store for the new members of the Austin City Council. They will be reminded that all of us are still out here watching what they do. Because I will be one of those reminders.
As you sit down with your friends at your favorite hangout during one of Austin’s high-flying events, that glass of wine or beer might start to wobble. You might hear the deafening roar of a helicopter overhead. The mayor and his top aides will be swooshed away to an air conditioned box at Memorial Stadium or a certain unnamed racetrack.
And I will be either sitting at this computer, relaxing on the couch with a cold beer, or out partying with real, dependable friends. With thoughts of the next reform that needs to be finished, somewhere in the back of my mind.
But all of us should be lucky enough to have at least one Roberta in our corner…