Let’s meet the mayor of Bugtussle, Tennessee, James Cornelius Dondillinger IV, known around town as Mayor Jimbo.
His ego is legendary. He enjoys his power, which is wielded with a fair amount of discretion in practice, if not in word. His motto is, “I am in Control.”
His education and experience mean that he knows more than anyone and will control his town more effectively than anyone. Control = competence.
Despite all the puffery and self-importance, Jimbo knows what he’s doing. The results show it.
He has been reelected 4 times, and the place runs like a Swiss watch.
The high school sends more kids to college each year than any other school its size in the state.
The tax rate is the lowest in the county.
Downtown is thriving with local businesses, restaurants and a movie theater.
The crime rate is minimal,
Property values grow steadily
They recently began piloting a mentoring program matching farmers with high school kids, so kids will come back after college and bolster the agricultural economy.
Mayor Jimbo decides to attend the National Mayor’s Conference in New York City. He reasons that there is much the other mayors can learn from his many successes in Bugtussle.
He books his flight and leaves out of Nashville. He lands at LaGuardia Airport (via Baltimore) and when he steps off the jetway and into the terminal, He’s in a space that is bigger than his whole town, and twice as populous.
When he arrives at the conference venue, the size of the meeting space impresses him. He checks in and receives a name tag, a lanyard and a packet of information containing agendas, side meeting schedules, networking presentations and lunch and dinner plans, which would begin a day later.
The next morning, when Mayor Jimbo enters the meeting hall for the opening session, he walks confidently through the crowd, past people he has seen on television and many people he doesn’t know.
He makes his way to the stage and climbs up the steps. He steps to the podium, adjusts the microphone and begins to deliver the speech he wrote in his hotel room last night.
“Fellow mayors, it is my honor to be with y’all here in New York City!”
The room quiets, as his voice booms out over the assembled mayors. Just like in Bugtussle, all eyes are on Mayor Jimbo.
“I’d like to alert you to some changes in the agenda, which I made, and asked our lovely hostess, Miss Lindsey, to edit and distribute copies to y’all. I’m sure she’ll get to it shortly, she’s pretty busy.”
Near the back of the room, Miss Lindsey shakes her head emphatically.
The room is dead quiet, and Mayor Jimbo has the attention of every mayor in the United States.
As he starts to explain that they will not be having dinner at ‘Tavern on the Green’, because he doesn’t like golf course food, a well-dressed man joins him at the podium.
“Sir.” he says, “You need to step away from the podium.”
The Mayor smiles, because the man is clearly confused.
“My friend, I am Jimbo Dondillinger, Mayor of the not-especially-large City of Bugtussle, Tennessee, but you can call me Mayor Jimbo, since we're old friends now.
'I am sure you’re unaware, given this unfortunate interruption, but, you see, I am in control here. And if I step away from the podium, as you so politely request that I do, then all of the mayors in the United States of America will be unable to hear my words. I’m sure you understand that this would not be an ideal situation.”
His new friend seemed unimpressed.
“Sir, please step away from the podium. You’re not supposed to be up here. I will escort you to your seat.”
Mayor Jimbo analyzed the situation. ‘What an embarrassing dilemma!’ he thought. ‘This poor, confused young man has wandered up on stage and accosted the speaker, the man in control, of the entire conference. It’s a shame. A derned shame.’
By now, the crowd of mayors was starting to mill around again, chatting and laughing but still keeping their eyes on the odd little meeting at the podium, and what Jimbo had assessed as the poor, confused security man.
Jimbo smiled pleasantly, letting his peers from New York, Boston, Dallas, Ethan’s Creek and other big cities like that, that he would not be so cruel as to humiliate this poor man.
He turned back to the microphone, hoping someone would come and rescue the security man from his awkwardness, when a second man approached the podium.
“Tim, what’s the deal?’ The man sounds like a character from a mob movie, and he was still chewing on something,
“Is Uncle Doofus here giving you a hard time?”
Doofus? That’s not very nice, thought Jimbo. Seeking to de-escalate, he offered his hand to Tim’s colleague to introduce himself.
Instead of shaking his hand, Tim’s friend put handcuffs on Jimbo and pushed the astonished mayor toward the side of the stage, through crowds of amused onlookers and eventually to the front of the building and the conference command center.
There was a smattering of mock applause as he was unceremoniously removed. After a short walk, he was met by other men, dressed as Tim was, and a woman, who did the talking.
“Sir, I am... Amanda Law. I am the director of security for... the National Conference of Mayors. What is your... name, sir?” Her cadence was that of the anchorwoman on the 11:00 news. Maybe the weekend anchor. She did not smile.
His cuffs were still on, and Mayor Jimbo sensed it was about time for his candid camera moment. (This was going to be really funny.)
He introduced himself to Miss Law and explained, mostly for the benefit of the non-existent hidden camera, his situation.
“Well, Miss Law, you see, as the mayor, I am in control here, as I am back in Bugtussle, and so, after I welcome everyone, all hospitable-like, I wanted to tell them about the changes I made to the agenda.”
“Yes, Mr… um, Yes sir. I… understand. But you see… we had already arranged to have another mayor preside over the meeting. You are not scheduled to… address the meetings at… any point. I’m sure you understand that, at an event…like this, we cannot allow… unauthorized people… on the stage, or approaching the stage, you know, as a… security measure.” Her tone was professional, but a bit solicitous.
Somewhere behind him, Mayor Jimbo heard someone snicker. He whirled in the direction of the snickerer.
“Officer!” he shouted with great authority, startling those standing close by.
A uniformed NYPD officer the size of a small, undiscovered planet, stood nearby, observing in an unconcerned way. He looked at Jimbo neutrally.
“Officer! Arrest this man!” he shouted, and gestured at Tim, who was clearly the snickerer when he turned around.
Officer Planet smirked, and at that moment, they all broke into peals of laughter, which Jimbo was unable to dissuade.
As they laughed, the volume and intensity of their amusement kept growing. It seemed to echo and the faces seemed to multiply and get bigger. The laughter filled the convention center main hall.
Amanda Law’s face was red and tears ran down her cheeks. She was unable to stand up straight, and her hair, which has been neatly pinned up to her head, had exploded in strands of black and red tresses.
Tim, who had lost all interest in stifling his laughter, rolled around on the floor like a dog with an itch.
The guy who called him ‘Uncle Doofus’ had run to the trash barrel and vomited, as he had just finished a large breakfast burrito just before this current incident began. Even so, between heaves, his laughter was audible above the rest heard his laughter. Everyone there was similarly incapacitated.
And the more they laughed, the more people came over and began laughing too.
They laughed louder and louder and got closer and closer, enclosing Mayor Jimbo in a circle of red, hysterical faces surrounding him. Even Officer Planet joined in.
They seemed to arch over him, blotting out the light and causing occasional saliva missiles to land on his head.
Worst of all, they ALL had ‘Everything Bagel’ breath. (with lox).
Terrified, Mayor Jimbo began screaming and began flailing his arms to escape this gang of lunatics. Frantic, he kept pushing his way through the 30-deep crowd of helplessly hysterical onlookers. He screamed again, a loud, gutteral, almost primal scream…
…When he opened his eyes, he was standing on his bed in the hotel room, wearing his Tennessee Vols pajamas. It was 2:43 in the morning.
He saw now that he really was out of his ‘depth’ at this conference.
He didn’t know anybody, had not attended before, and was used to being ‘the man’ at any gathering he joined back home, so it didn’t matter, within reason, what he did.
He did not know that he lacked the needed wisdom, so he had neglected to pray for it. Fortunately, there was time to correct this mistake.
Check back next time for the conclusion! :)
These 2 posts form an excerpt from my recently completed, as yet unpublished book about the power of prayer.