Monday, April 16, 2012

Poor, petty, pitiful you

I witnessed something this past week that seemed more appropriate for a smoke-filled back room than a PTA meeting. It's been written here in the blawgosphere that when you hand someone a job with very little authority, pettiness often follows. Take a look at parking lot attendants, TSA screeners and municipal court judges, for example.

My wife served on the board of the PTA at our daughter's school for the past year as treasurer. As it turned out there were some clashes of personality among the board members since not everyone wanted to do everything the same way.

Last week, however, took the cake. It was election time once again for the PTA. For the last month or two board members were firing incendiary e-mails back and forth across the listserv at one another. For an added measure of thoughtlessness, the school's principal was following the exchange on the listserv.

Thursday night was the big night. All during the day the e-mail bombs kept falling. I, on the other hand, was just looking forward to some warm pizza and a Dr Pepper at the end of the day. As it turned out, one of the board members brought her mom, who signed up as a member, to the meeting, along with a dozen or so brand new members. Some of the new members' kids wouldn't even be students at the school until next year.

At that point the fix was in. As soon as my wife figured out what was happening she pulled her name off the ballot. She was in shock at what had happened. She was dumbfounded that someone would pack a meeting just to keep her "opponents" off the board.

Meanwhile I went to the music room where my daughters were hanging out and watched Mary Poppins.

What I found remarkable is that we were talking about the PTA board. The PTA has no voice in the running of the school. It exists solely for fundraising and to create the illusion that the parents have some say in the way the school operates. Few people are confused about this.

These little petty tyrants are everywhere. You'll find them at the DMV, with the homeowners' association and on your jury panel.

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