|Perhaps if my name were something more along the lines of "Jenny Oaks Baker," SLC's local contingent of Salvation Army-assisting bell-ringers would be less resistant to having me within their midst.|
I probably shouldn't share as much information as I intend to share here, not that it's of an especially confidential nature, but should it be googled by the wrong person, it will out me. I have, however, outed myself in numerous ways, so it would seem I have relatively little to lose.
With essentially no pressure to participate because enough people are eager to kiss up and earn bonus points in any way they can, a practice affiliated with my upcoming clerkship rotation has associated itself with a particular bell-ringing charitable organization. Oddly enough, it is through the auspices of a religious organization thoroughly unrelated to the bell-ringing [religious] organization that this is being undertaken. Most of the physicians associated with the practice with which I will be affiliated and most of the non-MD staff are staunchly affiliated with this religious group. The group doesn't drink coffee or alcohol. It's not the Seventh-Day Adventist Church to which I refer. You can probably connect the dots without the necessity of my being more specific.
The members of this medical practice are very much aware of my extended family's connections to their religious faith. Faith is faith, however, and medicine is medicine. We can work together. Furthermore, no one there knows my personal stance regarding anything related to their faith or any other religious matter. For all they know, I am anxiously awaiting an invitation to join them in some or any activity related to their church. As it happens, I'm not, but they don't know that.
I'll attempt to cut to the chase, which is something I do rather poorly. A message was sent electronically to everyone, myself included, who will be affiliated with the practice in the upcoming three weeks requesting assistance with this bell-ringing venture. We were told to click on any specific dates that would work for us. I tried, but whenever I clicked on a date, the function malfunctioned on me and clicked on every date, indicating I would be willing to show up and ring bells each night for the next three weeks.
I emailed the person who sent out the message, explaining the dilemma. Her response to me was that my help is no longer needed. I thanked her for her response, and asked if I might have permission to show up at one of the other times at which someone else is signed up, bringing a musical instrument along to make the occasion more festive. Her response to this option was more direct, more along the lines of [not her exact words, BTW] "I TOLD you we don't need you with or without your cello or violin this year. Perhaps next year something can be worked out, or perhaps it can't, but for now would you please just go away!"
This situation would be awkward under any circumstances, but the woman with whom i communicated is considered the lead RN of the practice and the manager of the office, and is married to one of the founding partners of the practice. I will work with this woman every day I work until Christmas break.
My first question: Perhaps it is customary for two people to be present at each bell-ringing session. Would anyone be harmed in any way if a third person were to show up with a musical instrument, stand several feet away, and quietly play innocuous seasonal tunes? I'm not suggesting that the three of us triple-team any passerby and shake the person down until he or she drops an acceptable amount of cash or gold or whatever into the little red kettle. I'm merely proposing that I could have stood off in the distance playing seasonally festive tunes in an inoffensive way. My second question: Is this in some way personal? Do these people dislike me because of my tenuous connection to their religious faith, or do they dislike me for reasons entirely unrelated? Or do they dislike my musicianship? My third question: Do members of this church ever consider how exclusionary actions might possibly A) hurt the feelings of others, and B) ultimately drive people away from their church?
Members of this religious faith are fond of citing as a reason, whenever anyone leaves their church, that the person did so because he or she was somehow offended by the actions of someone at the church. This isn't entirely fitting in my case, as I'm not a part of their group and therefore cannot technically leave it, but I most definitely am offended by the exclusionary actions of this person in particularly, and presumably by those she represents as well.
Is it my violin-playing that they hate, or is it I whom they hate? I may never know for certain, but it's going to be a hell of a long three weeks, starting bright and early tomorrow morning. Perhaps I should bring my cello to the office, plant myself in the waiting room, and commence with playing Good King Wenceslas until someone calls security and has me forcibly removed from the building. That would be one way to get out of work.