All You Need to Know About Mary

Back in the ‘70s I was pretty much gainfully underemployed in Denver. I taught a class or two at several of the colleges and universities in town, but adjunct professors are grievously underpaid. So, whenever I found an advertisement for a full time opening in a field in which I had some experience, I applied.

Thanks to having worked for a couple of years on a project providing coordinated child care services to employees of the University of Colorado Medical Center, I felt qualified to apply for director of a new United Way office to coordinate child care services to the larger Denver community.

The interview was routine: I explained what the UCMC project was about and what roles I had played, including serving as the Director for the final year of the project, and the interviewing panel explained their vision for their new office. It seemed like a good match.

At one point, the woman who headed the panel mentioned that the people I would be working with and serving would be a very diverse group, and gently inquired how I thought I would get along with “people of color.” I paused for a moment to frame an answer in a way that would be both sensitive and politically correct (this was the ‘70s), when an unbidden thought came to my mind and I apparently smiled to myself. I had paused too long. The woman asked me what I was smiling about. I paused again, and replied something along the lines of, “Well, while I was thinking about how best to answer your question, the cliché that ‘Some of my best friends are Black’ popped into my head and I was wondering how you would react if I actually said that.” The panel chuckled and thanked me for my time.

I didn’t get the job.

A while later I told this story to my good friend Mary (full disclosure, a former girl friend) and she challenged me with a tone of disbelief in her voice, “Who do you know that’s Black?”

I replied, “Mack! You should know. You introduced us.”

“Oh,” she answered, subdued. “I forgot Mack was Black.”

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About Jesse

My name is Jesse Blatt. My first name is actually “Ramon,” but I haven’t used that name, except for official purposes, since 1970. I have a high school diploma and a PhD…nothing in between. I’ll get around to explaining that in a post sometime. From time to time I will be posting true stories from my past, though not in any special order. I’ve been fortunate to have had a dozen or so different careers, most of them very satisfying, some fairly frustrating, and none that I wish had never happened. In my many former lives, I have been a mail clerk, radio and TV engineer, radio announcer, electronics engineer, college instructor, psychologist, research consultant, Federal employee, supervisor of research professionals, computer programmer, web designer, instructional designer, construction site handyman, and carpenter, not necessarily in that order.
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