conflict resolution and processing


Yesterday, Dan and I learned from Anthony that he had not left the hotel when he was picked up by the police. He had wandered down to the lobby and a security guard had harassed him, despite his saying that he was a hotel resident. When he couldn’t remember his room number, the guard called the police rather than looking Anthony up by name.

We also learned that the E.C. hadn’t spoken with Anthony to listen to his side of the story before kicking him and Roland off of the bus. The last that they had spoken to either of them was before Anthony was found, when Roland only knew that Anthony had left the room at midnight. When Roland tried later to tell Davina about what really happened, Davina told Roland that it wasn’t open for discussion.

For me, this changed everything. Anthony been harassed and ejected from the hotel, probably because he was part of our very flamboyant group or because he was hispanic, or both. (The guard who ejected Anthony had seen him enter the hotel with about a dozen other riders returning from the bar.) Then, to make things worse, the E.C. had pronounced their guilt without listening to Anthony’s story. The more I thought about it, the more unfair it seemed.

This morning, Dan was going to get onto the Big Bus to explain to everyone Anthony’s side of the story. It seemed only right that the other riders, who had only heard conjecture and condemnation, should hear what really happened. Dan told me that he only intended to tell the folks on the bus what happened factually, and allow them to draw their own conclusions.

When Dan got on the Big Bus, he was told that he would have to sit in the back-most seat. He told Molly that he wanted a few minutes on the microphone to speak to the riders, and he was told that they wouldn’t allow him to do so. Molly accused Dan of trying to divide the group. Dan, frustrated, got off and came back to the Vanagon.

The members of the E.C. followed us, telling us that we would have our chance to talk about things as soon as there was time. I asked when, and was told that it would be soon, today. There was huge amounts of tension… I was very angry at them for not only expelling a member of the group without all of the evidence, but then refusing to allow the truth to come forward. Dan was frustrated, and the E.C. didn’t seem to happy either. Roland and Anthony, who were riding with us, stood on the other side of the van looking uncomfortable. Eventually we settled down a little and agreed to talk later.

I simmered most of the rest of the day, for the reasons I listed in my previous journal entry. I hate the idea that the group can turn its back on people for a single mistake. It scares me deep down inside.

So on Dan and I, Roland and Anthony drove towards Columbus in the Bad Boy Bus. The rally in Columbus was at the First Unitarian Universalist Church, a wonderful sprawling complex of classrooms, meeting halls, and of course, a church hall. By the time we got there, the speakers were already in full swing. The event was especially special for Jennifer, who had family in the area. Her family were all proudly in the church to listen to her talk.

After the speaches, we all went into a meeting hall for an amazing spread of hot dishes and baked goods. The folks in Columbus definitely know how to show hospitality! Unfortunately, the folks on the Big Bus were there for all of about 10 minutes before the E.C. were shouting “Okay, everyone, time to get on the bus!”

Dan and I were left sitting with a group of locals, thanking them for their hospitality and finishing our meal. It was yummy, as was the large tray of cookies that one lady gave to us as we left.

Just outside the church we were interviewed by a local ‘No on Issue 1‘ camera crew. They were working on a documentary on the fight against Issue 1, Ohio’s anti-marriage amendment. They interviewed us for about 20 minutes, and Dan and I spoke about why marriage was so important not only to us, but to society in general. We were finishing one another’s sentences. It was very cute. They also taped a promo spot of us asking Ohioans to vote against Issue 1.

About that time Roland and Anthony returned from an errand fetching a new charger for their camcorder. We all piled into Francis and we were off. Rather than go 2 hours northeast to Akron and then another 2 hours southeast to Pittsburgh, we decided to skip Akron and drive straight across. It saved us tons of driving, and also allowed us some ‘down time’ before the bus arrived for our final talk of the day in Pittsburgh.

We got to the hotel and checked in. I went off and spent a few hours driving around town looking for a do-it-yourself car wash, and finally found one. A couple of hours later I was back at the hotel, my car sparkling and happy. When I pulled in, a cute young woman came up and asked me if the bus had arrived. It turns out that this was Dolores’ daughter Danyelle, who was joining us here. I told her that we had skipped an event, but that the bus should be arriving momentarily.

Driving around Pittsburgh, and especially at the hotel, I had seen a larger-than-normal number of blind folks tap-tap-tapping. I finally asked one of the guys why there were so many blind folks in the hotel. He told me that that weekend Pittsburgh was hosting a blind dart players’ championship. My mind boggled, and I couldn’t help saying “Wow, that sounds scary!” He chuckled.

Writing this up later, I wondered if he was yanking my chain. Well, it turns out he wasn’t:

Audio Dart Tournament
The fifth regional tournament sponsored by Audio Darts of Pittsburgh.
October 8 – 10
Best Western
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Cost: $15 per event or $75 for six events; registration deadline is October 1; mail contact information and payment to Louis Wassermann, 2503 Silver Oak Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15220.

After speaking to a group of college students at the University of Pittsburgh, we returned to the hotel. The time had finally come for Dan and I to speak with the E.C.

We all met… Molly & Davina, Bev & Jacqueline, Belinda & Wendy, Dan and I. Once we got past the initial pleasantries, I was invited to vent.

And I did. I told them that they were attempting to keep way too much control over members of the group. I told them that I felt betrayed by Molly when she apologized to the other riders for going off with Dan and I, without even telling me she was going to do so. I told them that they were wrong to have expelled Roland and Anthony without hearing their story. I opined that creative people were messy and complex, and that they couldn’t be forced to ‘stay on message’ or ‘use the buddy system’ all of the time. (Davina got defensive here… “Well, I’m creative, I wrote a book, and I didn’t go out and get drunk.”)

I told them that if they invited documentary filmmakers along, they couldn’t expect them to make a 6-hour television series of people being ‘on message’. No one would watch it. It would be dull. Blah blah blah. I went on for about 45 minutes.

I think that they heard me. I certainly understood better why Molly was so tense, though I can’t really talk about it. (Liability.) In any case, I felt better, and I hope that if they lead events in the future they will be a little more relaxed.

What do you think?