Saturday, February 27, 2016

Politicians, Visitors, and the Invasion

If any person of any notoriety is visiting campus someone is supposed to notify the President's Office. Not that the General wants to meet everyone, we just need to know what is going on. For instance for the past several weeks we have been ground zero for any conservative presidential candidate. What makes a better photo op than a clean cut Military College in one of the early primary states.

Some campaign advance teams called and went through the proper channels. Since the College is non political we do not support any candidate, but they are welcome to come on campus and rent any of our venues - just like any other person for their use. 

Worse case is when a faculty or staff member just shows up out of the blue, in our office with some notable they want the President meet. This can be a political boondoggle or just unfortunate timing as was a week or two ago when I looked up to see Mayor Joe Riley (who is now a faculty member) standing in my office with Gene Sperling (former Economic Advisor to both Presidents Clinton and Obama). The General was not in at the time. 

Other such times are when some person wanders in and wants to talk to the President of the College directly about an issue we know nothing about. It is my job to figure out what the issue is, identify the best person to handle the problem, notify that person of the situation, and get the visitor to that appropriate person as quickly and politely as possible. And, I need to make sure that I have not failed to recognize one of our benefactors who just gave a million dollars or so for a new program. That is where being new becomes a sticky wicket - they all assume you know what you don't know.

Yesterday, I walked out into the hall and noticed a group of officers coming through the glass doors. Being Friday when we have parade, everyone is in full dress, so that was not that unusual. However, some of the gentlemen in the party were dressed in a uniform I had not seen on campus. It was an olive green - it was similar to what Lord Crawley wears on Downton Abbey. By God, they were British. And they were decked with more colorful medals, ribbons, and sashes than I had ever seen one wear.

Then I remembered that there had been talk about some very high level British Officers visiting campus. Since the General was going to be off campus the day of the visit, we were out of the loop. Knowing the Commander in our office would want to greet them, I quickly went back, stuck my head in his door and said, "The British are coming."

Knowing what I meant, he immediately got up, grabbed his coat and hat. I went back into the hall to see if our visitors needed something to drink or anything else. It was the least I could do. Thank God it wasn't 4 o'clock because tea time was beyond me. If all else failed I could always call executive events for help.  

Back at her desk, my admin assistant was laughing, "What? The British? What are you talking about that made the Commander leave so fast?" I explained the situation to her.

A few minutes later, the Commander returned to say that all was well, the Provost, a Brigadier General, was entertaining them. As we discussed their well decorated uniforms. The Senior VP (who is a retired Colonel in the Air Force) came in the office and said, "The British are Coming."

All three of us looked at him, laughed, and said, "No sir, the British are here."

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