Saturday, July 23, 2011

No Room At The Inn

I know there is no room at the inn. I won't take it personally. But that doesn't mean I won't ask. You never know. Something might have opened up.

Life is a little like the line at some nightclub. Life smiles on you and the guy at the door lets you in. Or doesn't. Sometimes there is no room at the inn, or sometimes there is no room at the inn for you. You never know which.

I know I don't have the pedigree. I know I don't have the credentials. And I don't have an entrée. But sometimes none of that matters. Sometimes you have something else that will get you in the door. It could be talent, or beauty, or brains, or money! Or something else, some je ne sais quoi, like confidence or energy or style. Or grit. Like true grit. Will you try again if you are turned away? And again? And again?

I once knew a woman who went to a school that she didn't get into. She just just showed up; she just went anyway. I don't know how she did it, but she did. She didn't take no for an answer. She had sand! It shouldn't be any surprise that she also did very well, and went on to have a successful career.

When I first moved to Boston, once I had settled in, I took my portfolio to visit a dealer I had recently done a favor for without ever having actually met them. Before I could introduce myself the dealer read me the riot act. I had no entrée, no pedigree that she was aware of, and there was no room at the inn. Effectively, how dare I? When she had finished venting her spleen at me for my audacity, telling me what was what, and pointing me to the back of the line, I reached out my hand and introduced myself. Her head snapped back and she gasped. Then she rushed past me to block the door, which she would not leave until I had accepted an apology.

It was a shame really, because she had actually told me the absolute unvarnished truth, something you never hear, and that I would never hear the likes of again. I later went on to show in Boston, and even got to know some dealers as friends, but no one, not even one of those friends, was ever honest enough to tell me what was what. It was an "ah-ha!" moment where I got the straight dope, and not the dressed up bullshit.

I have gotten a few of those along the way. Those rare glimpses at the truth that you can carry with you to make sense of this world. Like the teacher that confided in me that my strength was intimidating, explaining why she had treated me so badly. Another "ah-ha!" moment.

So when you're standing there at the door, and they don't let you in, it might not be because you weren't good enough, but because you were too good. I actually got that from another teacher when I had asked about the hesitation to let me into a program. They told me it was to make sure I wasn't too good. Needless to say at that point I was a little disappointed that I had been accepted, .

These days I make it a special point to avoid lines with gate keepers. I'll accept an outright invitation perhaps, but never one to compete for room at the inn if it is willy-nilly up to some gatekeeper. Accept this invitation at your peril.

I was once interviewed by a man for a spot in an elite graduate program who kept his back to me and never looked at me the entire time; years later I was casually informed that he was no less than mortal enemies with the man from the program who had recommended me. That was an "ah-ah!" moment that did not reveal itself for almost thirty years, not until the man who had recommended me unwittingly mentioned their deep seeded enmity! Luckily this was also confirmed by another intimate who detailed the great pride of that particular gate-keeper, as gate-keeper.

I mention these things to illustrate just where we find ourselves when knocking on the inn door. It cuts so many ways. As further illustration I once secured a position as a columnist for a newspaper that I had been previously turned down for. The first time my recommendation came from the publisher who assured me that his support would undoubtedly be the kiss of death. He was right. Later I was joyfully hired by the very same editors who had forgotten about my previous application because they had never even given me the time of day. Go figure.

Again, I say all this because, and you must be prepared, what are you going to do when you're told there is no room at the inn?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

1 comment:

Marty said...

THe gatekeeper who turned his back to you can no longer talk,due to a progressive neurological disorder.I took him and his wife out to breakfast last Spring at my 40th reunion.It was more enjoyable than any previous visit (we go back more than 40 years).Why was it so much fun? I got to do all the talking and therefore didn't have to listen to him tell me about how well all my classmates were doing.Sometimes you do get the last word