Friday was the office Christmas Party--that is to say the annual gathering of about 25 folks who are part of the Readiness and Training Division (about 80% of the folks are actually spread out across the fruited plain--Norfolk, VA; Radcliff, KY; Leavenworth, KS; Oklahoma City, OK; and back to Enterprise, AL and then down toward Clearwater, FL). It is pot-luck lunch and then a Yankee Gift Swap. I am now in the tradition of bringing a stapler. It is a long story, but one year I brought one and got a terrible ribbing and so have brought one ever since. People know it is coming. The trick is to know which gift is the stapler. This year I bought two mini-staplers and threw in a $10 scratch ticket that turned out to be worth $20.
After the lunch our VP said a few words and then it was over to the "Flying Dutchman," who runs the Yankee Gift Swap. Of course you would pick a Dutchman to be in charge of such an event.
Backing up a bit, I had earlier noted that Michael, who was at the table next to me, had pretty much slipped off his right shoe. I didn't make anything of it at the time, but did note it. As our Director started his review of the Yankee Gift Swap rules, Michael stood up and hurled his shoe at the boss. Missed him by just a little bit. Just like in the video we have seen out of Iraq, of an event The Boston Glob can't seem to get enough of, where Reporter Muntader al-Zaidi lobs two shoes at President Bush.
Our local rendition was met with laughter and clapping and everyone enjoyed the jest. Later, Michael assured me that where he comes from it is an act of honor to throw a shoe at someone. (Note that Michael is basically from Cambridge, where he went from to school from undergraduate education through PhD.) We are a group that is attuned to political events and enjoy a good jest and riposte. It is like being back in a Fighter Squadron. (And, for all I know, the whole thing might have been a staged prank. At any rate, it was great.)
The stapler went early and was never claimed by another. The small package, wrapped and stuffed in a nice Barmakian bag, was good camouflage. Just by happenstance, last year I fooled the same chap with a stapler inside a wine bottle.
The Boston Globe reports that the real shoe thrower has apologized and asked for a pardon. But, then, halfway through the article the reporter quotes the Brother, Dhargham al-Zaidi, as saying he doesn't believe it.
One wonders if reporter Muntader al-Zaidi would have thrown a shoe at President Saddam Hussein?
One also wonders if the trajectory of reporting is from being supportive of one's nation (think Edward R Murrow during the Blitz*) to being explicitly neutral** to now being explicitly political again?
Regards -- Cliff
* Sure, the Blitz was before we got into WWII, but he picked the "good guys" and told their story and I bet FDR loved it.
** Just the first part, about the Roundtable discussion that included Peter Jennings and Mike Wallace, as well as some Army officers, including General William Westmoreland.