Being a novel, all characters, events, dialogue and representations are fictional ... and in no way are meant to represent any real or living persons or events... except the few annual events that are used to move me through time. The opinions expressed are my own, and not necessarily those of my author. And the story is copyrighted, by my author of course. Oh, and from time to time I may include some real time events to keep the blog more authentic. Comments and suggestions will be appreciated and seriously considered as the story moves along.

If you are just joining us, start with the Prologue and Chapter One on March 1, 2011, in the Archives.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Chapter 40

       Tech eked out a victory on Saturday over Nevada, and made us all crazy for three quarters and fourteen minutes. But it was an exciting finish. I spent part of the game with Sharon and Doug and part with Colin. And once again had too many corny dogs. 

But the day after the library fire last week, I almost got fired. 
   At 10 p.m. last Monday night, every news station had the same story with Bennett Boyle on camera, lying to reporters and to the world. Then each reporter had interviewed students, whose reactions swung the gamut from panic to amusement to annoyance that they’d had to leave in the rain. I called my staff, briefing them and asking them to come in early the next morning. Once home, I set my alarm accordingly then took that long hot bath. 
  Sure enough, early the next morning while staff answered the angry calls from television reporters who had been lied to, I was summoned to Boyle’s office. “What is the meaning of this?” he shouted angrily, throwing a copy of the A-J newspaper on his desk as I entered his office. 
   “Just doing my job, Mr. Boyle. I don’t believe in lying to the media. It wasn’t an electrical fire, it didn’t trigger the alarm and it wasn’t minor damage.”
   “How the hell do you know?”
   “I was there, on Stack Level 5, and tried to put it out. I actually think it was arson, although I didn’t tell the reporter that.”
“You’d better be damn glad you didn’t tell the reporter that!” 
   Now I was angry, too, and quickly dismissed the tactic of remaining calm. My new way to deal with him definitely wouldn’t work in this situation. Looking at him defiantly, I said, voice rising, “I know how to do my job, Mr. Boyle. I know what to say and how to say it, and I know you should never lie to the media. Whatever where you thinking?!”
   Boyle blanched. No one talked to him like that. No one ever questioned him like that. Yet he must have felt the need to explain, for once, and did so with extreme displeasure. “That if there was no story, they’d go away. You’re inviting them to write about a possible arson, for God’s sake. How can you be so reckless?”
   I took a deep breath and with my voice now calmer, but defiant and strong, said, “I am not reckless, and the media always finds out the truth, so better to tell them up front than to have them make us out to be liars. So, I told the truth. The fire is under investigation.We’ll provide more information as soon as the investigation is complete. I’ve talked with Chief Callahan and as soon as he knows anything, we’ll put out a statement. Much better for the reputation of the university.  
“And,” I said pointedly, “why did you go on camera when you didn’t have any facts or couldn’t say anything positive?”
“What the hell is positive about a fire in the library?”
“Several things. You could have talked about the heroics of the Campus Police, about the calm way the students evacuated with no injuries, about Saddle Tramps and library personnel directing students away from danger. Any number of good things instead of lies we’ll now have to refute.”
   He stood there, staring at me in disbelief. 
   I continued, undeterred,  “My staff is now upstairs fielding calls from irate TV stations who last night reported misinformation. My staff is cleaning up your mess, again. And I should be up there helping instead of trying to explain my job to you ... again. Good day, Mr. Boyle.” I turned on my heel and marched out, leaving a bewildered and decidedly annoyed Chief of Staff looking after me. 
   I barely heard him say, “Again?!”  

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