Have you ever been at that point where you’re so exhausted, so drained, that your mental filter just sort of shuts off and what you think spills out of your mouth before you can breathe it back in? I’m sure you know what I mean.
There I was in the Brutor Tribe Council Chambers. I had been working with a group about some regional issues that needed addressing, and they weren’t making much headway with our local government body. For some reason or another they thought having me at the helm would give their concerns more weight, and I was more than happy to support something I believed in.
We sat in the assembly amongst other concerned citizens voicing their opinions for and against a lengthy number of issues. Our local councillors had shown up, though Shakor was mysteriously absent, his seat vacant. Originally I had thought our issue was higher on the agenda for the evening, but the first two and a half hours were consumed by a pressing planetside flooding issue.
It was painfully boring.
At the same time, it was very educational and informative. Not only did I learn a lot about what settled life was like, but I also kept careful note of Councillor Guez. He was a mouse of a man, his spectacles low on his nose. Typically during this type of session, decisions weren’t made. Instead, applicants would reiterate their stance and the interested public would state their concerns or support regarding said application. At that point, the presiding Chair would open the floor to questions from the Councillors, who make inquiries of both the public and the applicant.
That was where Councillor Guez became of annoying interest to me. He squinted a lot. He played with his hands a lot. I already knew he was an insecure man prior to him opening his mouth, which would turn out to be often that evening. Let me share a brief example of how things transpired.
The flooding issue had the members of an entire settlement present – over sixty people all concerned over their lands and the lack of government response to their petitions over the past thirteen years. There was a lot more to it than that, with some citizens presenting very educated solutions to the problem, etc, but I would like to focus on Councillor Guez.
After respectfully listening to each applicant individually, the councillors would ask their questions, if any. Some were intelligent and interested in the situation; others not so much. At the end of each round Councillor Guez would indicate his desire to speak, and after gathering up his hands, and with a serious demeanour, would ask in his squeaky voice “So, to clarify, your concern is flooding.”
I wish I was kidding.
He essentially wanted to have the last word in each round, and wanted to sound right in what he said. Being right was perceived as a victory to this man obviously. He must’ve believed that being right made him appear smart to his peers and the public. The problem was that it had the opposite effect. The longer the evening went on, the more audible the sighs became from the public assembly as well as his fellow councillors.
By the time it came for our issue to open on the floor, I was at my wit’s end. The rest of our delegation presented first, individually, fielding councillor questions as they went, as well as some unexpected opposition from the assembly. I made notes, quickly pulling up hard data to support our positions in these deliberations.
To keep with simple examples, let’s say that our issue was space is vast.
Finally, when I presented, I was able to retort previously made comments with evidence and intelligence. I enjoyed respectful and polite banter with both the majority of councillors, the Chair, and members of the gathered assembly.
I was ready to give my prepared closing remarks and humble thanks for the opportunity to discuss the matters at hand when Councillor Guez indicated his wish to speak. I subtly scanned the assembly, seeing much eye rolling, huffing, and hawing. Good to know I wasn’t the only one that was fed up.
Councillor Guez gathered his hands, poured a glass of water, drank a sip, placed it with purpose, gathered his hands once anew, adjusted his glasses, gathered his hands once more, then spoke.
“So what you’re telling me is that space is vast.”
I sighed a little too loudly and it was picked up by the podium microphone at which I stood. There were a few quiet chuckles from the assembly.
I really don’t know what snapped in me, but I couldn’t take anymore.
“Councillor, you have been nothing but wasteful of the taxpayers time and money this evening, simply repeating everything they say in some vain attempt to look intelligent and insightful. Quite frankly, you’re nothing more than a parrot.” I spat out harsly and without thought.
Laughter from both the assembly and other councillors caught Councillor Guez by surprise. He flushed with embarrassment, then rage, quick to attempt to wrestle control of the conversation back from me.
“I really don’t know how to respond to that.” he began, but I cut him off, once again my brain filter not firing.
“Of course you don’t. Nobody’s given you the answer already.” I replied loudly.
At that, the assembly erupted with raucous laughter and applause. The Chair had to contain himself, and everyone else present, to restore order. I was dismissed from the podium as Councillor Guez repeatedly signalled his desire to respond, which was completely ignored by the Chair, whose only thought was to move the meeting forward.
I sat back in the Assembly, smirking at Councillor Guez, who locked his beady little eyes with mine, a look of sheer malice on his contorted face.
It seemed like I had made yet another enemy. The retribution would be interesting, I had no doubt.