I had a brief, very brief, career in the world of non-profit. It didn't take long for me to realize that, though I found the end result of my efforts rewarding, I just wasn't cut out for the job. During my employment with the local non-profit chapter of a very worthy cause, we coordinated one of our largest, annual fundraising events. The weeks and days that led up to the event left everyone on staff exhausted though we eagerly awaited the day of the event to see the actual turnout.
The day was beautiful. The sun was shining, the volunteers were present, the vendors were in place, and people were arriving. I just needed a chipmunk and a bird to sing with for the ultimate Disney moment. As I was taking in the sight, I noticed a paunchy fellow in a charcoal gray Members Only jacket standing off to the sidelines. Oh, yeah...this wasn't in the 80's it was 1998. He had on dark sunglasses and was shifting his weight from foot to foot. I approached him and asked if I could help him with something.
"Yeah. Are you with the organization putting on this event?"
I replied that I was as I attempted to make eye-contact with him. He would not look and me but rather looked around as if he suspected we were being watched.
"OK," he said. "I have him."
"You have who?" I questioned.
"I have Ronald."
Frustrated, he replied, "Ronald MacDonald. I have him."
"Oh great!" I replied as I spun around looking for said clown. "Um, where is he?"
"He's close," Members Only replied.
"Yeah. When you are ready to transport him I will get him."
"Transport him?" What the heck was this guy talking about?
"Yeah. Do you have a transport vehicle?"
"Well, we are just crossing a parking lot, but I supposed I could wrestle up a 'transport vehicle' if you really need one."
"OK. I need you to get the vehicle and meet me at the black automobile sitting right behind me at the curb."
"Uh, the minivan?" I asked even though it was the only "automobile" sitting at the curb.
"Shhhhh!" the guy scolded as he spun his head around looking for, I assumed, adoring fans or Ronald groupies.
What a weirdo! I walked away and located a Mule (think four wheels with power-steering, not donkey). I got in and floored it until I screeched to a stop in front of the minivan. Sure enough, Ronald emerged.
"Hi Ronald it's a pleasure," I said as I extended my hand that was met by void space. "Er, Mr. MacDonald, I guess, it's a pleasure." Still nothing. Hand still hanging in the void. So I drew back my hand and gestured to the Mule, "Shall we?"
So off we went. Ronald, his handler, and me. The three amigos on a two-minute journey across a parking lot.
When we arrived at our destination, Ronald's handler looked at me and asked, "So, what would you like for Ronald to do?"
"Oh, OK. Well," I turned and addressed Ronald, "you were here last year so if you could just repeat that performance that would be great."
"Actually, you need to talk to me," said Members Only.
"About what?" I ask.
"No. You need to direct your comments to me. I will confer with Ronald."
It was just too much.
"Are you serious?" I asked incredulously. "You want me to talk to you when you are standing next to Ronald who is standing in front of me with two ears of his own?"
"Actually, we no longer wish to work with you. Where is the gentleman who worked with us last year?"
"What? This is ridiculous. He is a CLOWN!" Oh yes! I said it. It was at that point that I knew Ronald was not deaf. His painted face screwed up into a look of horror and he literally gasped. It was as if I had physically punched him and knocked the wind out of him.
Members Only took immediate action and stood between me and the faint-looking Ronald. "Look Lady. Ronald MacDonald is NOT a clown. He is a persona. If you want Ronald to participate in this event you will get us the gentleman that we worked with last year. Our conversing is over!"
"Fine!" I seethed. I walked back to the Mule and fired it up. I muttered and I cursed and I grumbled about Ronald the "Diva" as I quickly located my boss (and my dear friend) and told him that we had a situation with Ronald and his handler. My boss was able to smooth Ronald's ruffled feathers and I received a mild scolding from the advertising agency that represents Ronald MacDonald the persona and not Ronald the clown. But, seriously, in my book, he will always be a clown. How could he be anything but? Even if his face wasn't painted white with a big red grin he would be a clown for the way he acted.
These days when I see Ronald at non-profit events I always have the urge to trip him, but I refrain. I look at him and thank goodness that it is him, not me, in the big, floppy red shoes and red, bushy wig. I am thankful to just be me and not a diva "persona."