Weekend before last, I made a quick trip to Dallas to see my granddaughters, delighting in how fast they are growing, the older one into a little lady, the younger one into a tomboy. As I left on Sunday, explaining to the tearful girls why they couldn’t come to the airport and go with me, I assured them I’d see them in a few short weeks for Thanksgiving.
Parker looked startled to be recognized and uncomfortable to be trapped next to the window by an employee. It would’ve been awkward for him to move to another seat, but I wasn’t certain he wouldn’t do just that. I’d already decided if he did, I’d just follow him.
“I’ve been going through Boyle because he’s your direct senior report. He tells me you’re not particularly interested in new ideas, and that he’ll take care of anything I need. He also said you resent working for someone younger than you.” Wow, I thought. Boyle is playing dirty. Okay, here goes political suicide. But my frustration with Boyle was at a breaking point. I’d been careful to not complain to anyone except a few close friends about his micromanaging and his complete ignorance of communications. I had tried to remain as professional as possible. But now, I couldn’t hold back any longer. This might be my only chance to right the wrongs, so to speak. I swallowed hard and said, “I don’t have a problem working for someone younger than me. I do, however, have a problem working for someone who tries to do my job for me and can’t.”
“We do the website, sir, but not at Mr. Boyle’s direction. Bennett Boyle knows nothing about the website, probably never looks at it. In fact knows absolutely nothing about communications. It’s a wonder I’ve been able to keep my talented staff the way he constantly interferes with us.”
“No, sir. Never.”
Since Halloween, yesterday, fell on a weekday, I bought about ten pounds of candy for the event last week. I also rented two videos, inviting Colin to watch them with me that evening. He’d seen the sweets when he came in, already in a bowl by the front door.
“Carve a pumpkin? I haven’t carved a pumpkin since the ’70s. They still do that?” he asked.
“On account of I can.”
“And the ambulance?” I asked.
“Her arm?” I said in alarm. There are only two female engineering professors. “Do you know her name?”
“Phelps, I think.”
Paramedics emerged carrying a gurney with Sharon lying on it, upper right arm wrapped in bandages, IV attached. I moved quickly to her side, noticing her hair was singed and the side of her neck and ear were a deep red. “Phelps! Are you all right?”
Steven came up at that moment, saying the media was here but so was Boyle, and he was trying to talk to them. I stomped my foot in frustration, and said out loud, “Over my dead body.” Following Steven, I headed toward the two reporters.
I hurried to the president’s suite and was ushered in immediately. He asked me to have a seat. As I did, he said, “Chief Callahan tells me it was a relatively small fire with damage confined to the closet area. Boyle is getting estimates of damage and I’m sure insurance will cover most of it.”
“Yes, sir. I’ve talked with Chief Callahan myself. We’ve sent out a news release and e-mailed staff and students. Also, there’s a story on the website.”
“Yes, I saw them all. You and your staff did a good job today. You kept it contained, just released the facts, no speculation, and I think you covered all the bases. Well done,” President Parker said.
“No, not again!” I said, concerned. “Do they think it’s the same person who started the library fire? Did they get any surveillance tape?”
“Until the police department is ready,” I said absently, not immediately aware I had interrupted the president. I apologized, but then was deep in thought about it all.
Quickly I said, “Absolutely, sir. It’s ... it’s perfect. Thank you, Dr. Parker. Thank you so much.” A grin spread across my face I couldn’t contain.
I rose, still grinning. “You won’t be sorry, Dr. Parker. I promise you that.”
“See that I’m not. Now go! It’s late and I’d like to go home.”
“Margaret Grant,” I answered as I walked toward the Nest’s front porch.
He’d wait, he said. “Give Sharon a kiss for me.”
“Mushroom omelets, m’lady,” he said, bowing, complete in bright red apron, spatula in hand. “Hope you like lots of cheese?”
“Been here twice already. Second time said he only took Snickers. I gave ’em extra just for his excellent taste in candy.”
Wine in hand, we’d settled on the couch as I shared what I knew of the fire, which at this point wasn’t much. Then I told him of the president’s decision and how it would make life much easier for my entire staff. Colin toasted to my success, and I basked in the glow of their accomplishment, knowing it had been a total team effort.