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How to stage an accidental walk-out


I can explain, wait, I can explain. Insofar as my powers of explanation – unacceptably limited though they are – allow for it, you will see I was only leaving. It is a matter of intent, you know, in the end, the difference between leaving and staging a walk-out, but what a difference.

It was my intent to be Don Cook, or to be like him, rather, to disappear from the room, as he had earlier. No one else even had to know. In life, you will agree, a person sometimes just wants to leave a room like I wanted to leave the room last night.

Perhaps, it occurs to me, in Don Cook’s day, a basic education might have included a learning unit on the ways to extricate oneself from a plastic chair with metal sleigh legs. Perhaps there was a test. Probably there was. Extra points for getting out of a plastic chair with metal sleigh legs noiselessly.

Inconspicuously.

Yes, probably.

I have learned only three things in my life and one of them is this: When faced with a toxic environment, one should leave. And so it is that I do leave, whenever possible. I see a toxic environment and I say to myself, “O Harry, this is a toxic environment. It ought to be left.” And so it was with this political meeting, last night.

My explaining, in my estimation, is going well, so far.

In the process of leaving this political meeting, which was toxic, I pushed back in my chair. My plastic chair with metal sleigh legs. Had I planned my departure ahead of time – which I had not – and had I said, “Harry, let’s make a big fuss about getting out of this chair and leaving,” I could not have possibly devised a method of doing so with a higher degree of cacophony. It sounded like nothing less than a train screeching to a fast halt.

And therein, to my dismay, much of the practical difference that existed between leaving the room and conducting a planned walk-out was erased.

My chair screeched and I got up and walked out of the Haver Center at St. Stephens Episcopal Church. The party’s secretary, believing me, reasonably, to be in the throes of staging a walk-out, followed me, albeit without all the chair screeching.

Next came a party co-chair. Next came a member of the party State Executive Committee and our likely 2018 gubernatorial candidate. Outside, they congratulated me on having staged the walk-out. I demurred. I said, “But it’s just that I did not expect my chair to be so loud.”

One of the walk-outers said to me, “I didn’t have the nerve to do that, Harry. I’m glad you did it, Harry.” But I was not glad. Staging a walk-out, even a walk-out of the most accidental variety, is not my style.

Leaving is my style, to the extent I have a style.

Never – not in a million years – would I wish to add to the great weight of the world’s toxicity. It’s just that there are some rooms that I do not wish to be in. 

Comments

  1. Oh my....in the attempt to be invisible you made yourself highly visible....not good. Now you have a reputation as a rabble rouser (or did you already have that reputation?) and will be called on in the future to shove your chair back and stomp on out of meetings.

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    1. Yes, in the future, I'm sure it will go something like this.

      Person A: "OK, we need a plan for how we're going to handle this to gain an advantage."

      Me: "Oooh! I can bang my chair around and stomp off in a huff!"

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  2. Is "toxic environment" just a thinly veiled "political environment that doesn't agree with me"? Was the situation beyond saving, beyond potentially steering in a more productive direction, one more conductive of actual conversation?
    But then, if everyone there was so eager to walk out, you have to wonder if they were all trying to do anything in the first place.

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    1. I am 100% certain that some of the people who remained would agree with that. And there is probably something to it.

      For me, it seemed that things had descended into personal insults to a degree where I wasn't interested in staying. Perhaps I need to start looking for a less contentious reason to get out of the house.

      But I like these people, for the most part, and it would be great to be able to work with them in some positive way. Maybe next time.

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  3. How do you respond to allegations that you were seen before the meeting sneaking into the room with coarse-grit sandpaper in your pocket?

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    1. Haha... Don't offer up any more conspiracy theories than already exist in any political group!

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  4. Sometimes a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do. Even if he's not intending to lead, but others follow.

    And now I'm thinking of "Life of Brian," where crowds start following the hapless Brian, proclaiming him to be The Messiah. And then his mother, the Virgin Mandy ("am I a WHAT?) has to yell at the assembled crowd outside their house, "He's NOT the Messiah! He's a very naughty boy."

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    1. That's probably a good analogy. I do tend to stumble into things. I can rarely be accused of having a plan. This makes politics an exceedingly poor hobby, actually.

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  5. Don't be surprised if you get the title "Drama Queen" from now on. Actually I suppose it's Drama King for you but it doesn't sound as good does it? Anyway, your less than subtle exit seemed to work.

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    1. I suspect I probably made some enemies and ruined my reputaiton as the levelheaded one. But you don't make any mistakes only if you don't do anything at all. So I'll accept the drama tag.

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    2. Geez I tell my kids off for writing your instead of you're and then do it myself. Sorry.

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  6. Harry, if everybody walked out of toxic political meetings there wouldn't be any. I now protest that eventuality by not attending them in the first place. You did good, though.

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    1. Thanks. The thing that sucks is that we agree on a surprising amount of things, politically. Some of us just seem to dislike one another, or at least are overly passionate about being heard and gaining control.

      It's like reading about some of the big bands of the Seventies where the members hated one another. We're breaking up over creative differences...

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  7. I love this. When 2020 comes around, and you're sitting in the Oval Office, having won the presidency by a landslide, I bet you'll look back at this moment and laugh. And when you try to leave, because who the hell wants to be president, I bet your supporters will say, "Yes, Harry! You're right! The country is in such disarray that we all must get out there and put boots on the ground! We can't just sit behind desks doing nothing! Brilliant thinking!"

    This reminds me loosely of my recent post about not watching football. All I did was crack some jokes about not watching football anymore because I was sick of toxic politics and the petty squabbling over a game, and I wanted a nice escape that wasn't centered around fighting.

    For this, the people on the right cheered me on. "Yes! We must all boycott football and those unpatriotic ingrates!" I was a hero to them.

    But the left was angry. Friends, people I know in person, sent me angry, vitriolic comments and emails. "How dare you turn a blind eye to systemic racism! Do you not support free speech? Do you not support peaceful protesting? You're a fascist! A racist fascist!"

    ...All because I turned off my TV on Sunday to spend more time with my family and less time being angry at the world for some much needed peace of mind.

    My Fox News interview will be next week, probably.

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    1. This sounds like the plot of the Peter Sellers flick, "Being There." The guy is just trying to talk about gardening and everyone ends up projecting everything onto him.

      Let me say, though, that it is an honor having such an icon of the Alt-Right commenting on my humble little blog.

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  8. There's a lyric to a song that sticks in my head but I can't remember the title nor the person who performed it. Something like: "there's no use in talking when no one is listening."

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    1. That's an old song by Missing Persons. And often, that sounds right. I used to wonder why my dad stayed so quiet so much, and the older I get, the more it makes sense.

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  9. I thought I left a comment last night, but much like not knowing a cheap plastic chair is going to make a disturbingly cacophonous riot as you drag it across linoleum or vinyl floor, here I am again to draw more attention to myself. C'mon, you knew the chair movement was going to draw some attention. Those chairs always do. Like it or not, now staging a walk out is definitely your style. Look, I didn't want "disgusting middle aged lout" to be my style, but sometimes your style wells up from within you.

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    1. Next you're going to tell me that others hear me eating at the same volume I hear it in my head.

      I'm that guy now?

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  10. It's only natural that others also recognize the toxicity in the room and long to escape. Given a cue that i's okay to leave, of course the will.

    That's actually one of my favorite literary devices.

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    1. I'm sort of like a lazy, low-key Moses leading people out of Egypt. Which is a terrible analogy because it would mean I am about to face the lazy, low-key equivalent of 40 years wandering in the desert.

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  11. Good for you Harry! You were the leader. Everyone realized how toxic it was in the room, but it took you to lead everyone out of there!

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    1. Thanks, Stacy. I just hope that if and when I go back to this group, we can all manage to treat each other better.

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  12. Superb post and courageous act.u did the right thing vand i learned one thing today.they all would be astonished and would think u as uniqu e.its good for a wannabe politician

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    1. Great to see you, Arun. I wish you all the best on your big day tomorrow. Just breathe!

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  13. will you now be testing the chairs before you sit? People might look at you strange while you test them. Now if you really want to make an impression (good or bad does it matter?) try falling out of the chair. People will talk about that for awhile.

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    1. At the very least, I will plan out my escape route a lot more carefully ahead of time from now on.

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  14. Your unintended actions made me laugh, Harry. The next thing you know you will be running for office.

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    1. I'd rather entertain than lead, so I'm glad it made you laugh. I look up to a lot more artists than I do politicians!

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  15. I know someone already said it, but what a Life of Brian moment! Brilliant!

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    1. I don't know why I'm coming up as "Unknown". It's mydangblog, trying yet again to post a comment--let me know if you see this! By the way, did you know I nominated you for a Liebster?

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    2. I don't know what's going on with my comments, either.

      I did NOT know you nominated me for a Liebster! I didn't know I'd missed a post of yours. Let me go have a look. I feel so negligent...

      Delete
  16. I forget the name of the Kurt Vonnegut story (it's in the collection "Welcome To The Monkey House") but in it a very conservative young man just out of the army comes home, and while he's in a cafe, in comes a provocatively dressed, barefoot free spirit girl of whom he profoundly disapproves. In order to signal his disapproval - but only to "watchers of human drama" - he turns on his stool to glare silently at her. Unfortunately the stool squeaks so loudly everyone, including the girl, turns to look at him and sees him glaring. So he feels it incumbent on him to unleash a tirade on her about her appearance.

    To make a long story short he ends up going to apologise, much much later. It was an early Vonnegut story, from the late 40s/early 50s. In later stories he would've done no such thing.

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    1. That's one of the few Vonnegut books I have not read. Had I read it, I wouldn't have written this piece at all, dismissing it as a Vonnegut rip-off.

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    2. It's this story.

      Bunglistan ghost story coming up as soon as I finish writing it.

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    3. I have the Monkey House book. It's out and sitting in this room, in fact, although I don't remember why. It's just that I must have run out of momentum in my Vonnegut reading before getting to it. Sometimes, I read so much by one author that reading more becomes superfluous - I know their bag of tricks too well.

      I hit that with Vonnegut. And Pynchon. And Palahniuk. And Tom Robbins.

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  17. Toxic people suck the life out of everything they come in contact with. Getting away from it is definitely the wiser move. The alternative is quite deadly.

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    1. Exactly. It's been a high-drama week all around for me. I survive by trying to keep drama low. It's healthier!

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    2. I define a toxic environment one where ideas are expressed but not considered, which today means any political discussion. Sometimes simply leaving is an excellent way to make your point.

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    3. Hi, Joeh. The good news is that this whole incident seems to have led to some reconsideration of what the group is doing. Something sort of similar happened at my workplace this week, actually.

      Things don't get better if everyone just sits there miserably, mumbling, "This is fine."

      I hope things can get better!

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  18. Well, that's the most sensible politics I've read lately, and it was funny, so I'm voting for you. And I also nominate the chair. I love a low drama low toxic platform.

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    1. Thanks, LIsa! I'm about to walk over to yet another meeting with this same group, and I'm hoping for something positive to come out of it. Never sure how deep to get into things with them - and they're the only political group I am involved in.

      Maybe I ought to have a go at some other group. Eighteen years is a long time to spend with anybody if you don't have much to show for it.

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