One of my proposals was due in two days and things had gone seriously off piste. It may be that, because we are essentially a mental health organization, we have a way of working that is consultative in the extreme. When people edit drafts of proposals they never comment, “This number should be 50.” Instead they write, “I sort of think this number could be 50, but what does everyone else think?” And then everyone piles on and adds comments until all the edits look like the Babylonian Talmud.
I often suggest that people jump on Skype and talk to each other and make decisions, but with time differences and poor internet and … well … Skype—the program we love to hate—that’s challenging.
A colleague had offered to incorporate everyone’s comments into the proposal. I just had to give it a once-over to cut down the length and make sure it was clear and responded to the donor’s intent and requirements. I was free to go with Lynn on an excursion the next day.
The next day. An email from my colleague to the whole group, “I’m sick and there’s no way I can do these edits. I’m sorry! I’m signing off now.”
Shit. It was on me now.
“Will there be internet at the venue?” I asked Lynn. She didn’t know; Richard Googled it and the website didn’t say anything about internet.
“But it’s an event venue,” Lynn reasoned. “It has to have internet.”
“Agreed. It has to have internet.”
Lynn is on the board of Grampian Women’s Aid, one member of a consortium of Scottish domestic abuse organizations. The event was a celebration marking their 40 years of providing refuge for survivors and advocating for stronger laws to protect women and children.
It took us an hour to get to there. Richard had hand-drawn a map for us; I held it and nervously called out the turns. “Left before this bridge!” “Right after the abandoned pub!” We only got slightly lost once, which is amazing for Lynn and me. Why didn’t we use a GPS? I don’t recall, but we passed through one of the most wild, empty areas of Scotland. An old-school GPS wouldn’t have known about the washed-out bridge; a smart phone-based app needs 3G, which was iffy in some areas.
I’m looking at a map of Aberdenshire now, trying to figure out where we were. I love the names but none of them sound familiar: Haugh of Glass. Glenkindie Towie. Bellabeg Strathdon. Longmorn Fogwatt. We may have been in Cairngorns National Park. I don’t know.
We passed this creepy gate. I hope it was a joke.
I can’t recall the name of the venue, but it was lovely. We met some of the other board members in the café to have lunch before the event, which was redundant because there was so much great food at the event. More great food! Here is my lunch. A fresh fish fest! I forgot all about my proposal.
But after lunch reality hit and while Lynn and her fellow volunteers were setting up, I tried to get an internet connection. This was complicated by the fact that my laptop battery has been dead for five years so it has to be plugged in. I walked around with it and finally got an off-on connection and an electric outlet in a back room.
People think everybody, everywhere, is online. Well everybody isn’t, and doesn’t. People in Ethiopia. People in rural Scotland. People in Nebraska. Poor people. Elderly people. Me.
But I managed to just focus’til I got ‘er done then got enough of a connection to send it off.
The event was very moving. About 100 women and men were in attendance, including one of the local lords and a woman politician. This is artwork by children in refuge.
The most memorable speaker was a woman who had been involved from the start.
The food was fantastic and provided gratis by the caterer.
I felt grateful. A former battered woman myself, I was now eating strawberry and cream tarts in Scotland to celebrate 40 years of aid to battered women. There is so much good work being done in this world by so many.