Saturday, May 30, 2009

Wine and Impersonation

No running today. We were engaged in meetings from 7AM to the late afternoon. I was so exhausted that I opted for a snooze instead of a run which turned out to be a smart decision because we had a very violent storm about the time I planned to be out running. The storm knocked down a few trees and threw some of the patio furniture at the BMO Learning Centre around but in the end produced a beautiful raindow. 

The pictures above are of the presentation that my colleagues Denise and Vicky gave on the cultural safety project. The first picture is of Michael Kirby, Chair of the Mental Health Commission of Canada. The remainder of the pictures are of our poster session. Bill, Vicky, myself and Paul; Bill, Susan, myself and Paul.

The final picture is of Susan pouring a bottle of wine that was a gift to me from Normand. The wine represents a final ending to a very funny story (well at least to us) that began in Calgary earlier this year. After a long day of meetings our committee members had dinner at a very nice Calgarian restaurant. We decided to order wine and left it to Normand to choose the wine for us. Now here is where the story gets a bit mirky. According to Normand he picked two bottles of wine that generated an intimidating look of displeasure from the waiter to which Normand responded by ordering two different bottles of wine. 

This particular restaurant serves absolutely wonderful "little" food, with the mini burgers being especially cute and yummy. Jennifer and I decided to share some little food, the mini burgers and mini chicken tacos. The food arrived and everything was perfectly yummy, however it was really the wine that made the meal extra special. It was sooooooo smooth, sooooo delightful, sooooo expensive!!!!  The waiter kindly split the cost between the five of us who shared the two bottles of wine. Jennifer and I simultaneously did a double take as we looked at our $80.00 dinner bill. Jennifer gestured to me the international sign for "tiny" as she whispered, "but we only had the little food!" I then picked up my glass of unfinished wine, a new appreciation for just how "good" it really was, and gulped it down. I then turned to Jennifer and encouraged her to "drink up because it would be crazy to leave one drop of the precious red." 

Now Normand tells the rest of the story this way. He said at this point of the dinner he looked across the table to see Jennifer and I  huddled behind Jennifer's enormous calculator, "Tick, Tick, Tick..."

as we tried to figure out just how much the wine really cost...per glass...per drop!!!

Feeling terribly bad about the wine fiasco (and again this is Normand's version of events), Normand went early the next morning to the automative teller to grab a bag full of cash to reimburse each of us for his expensive taste (did anyone see this bag?:). However, still feeling a heavy burden of guilt months later, Normand shopped in the finest wine stores in Quebec and arrived at our Toronto meeting, with exquisite wine for all! In a festive mood of forgiveness we popped the corks and enjoyed sharing a glass of lovely red wine once more; wine nowhere near as good as the wine we had in Calgary!  

Now you maybe wondering who Jennifer is. Jennifer White is a University Professor at the University of Victoria and sits of the FNIM Advisory Committee to the Mental Health Commission of Canada. She is an absolutely wonderful person.  I met Jennifer for the first time at the inaugural meeting of the MHCC in January 2008. Similar to myself, Jennifer is thin, 40ish with blonde hair. 

At this meeting I recognized a Psychiatrist from McGill University that I had sat beside on an airplane a couple years earlier. We discussed our work over the two hour plane ride, so when I saw him at the MHCC meeting I thought I would say hello and make the connection again. I stopped him in the cafeteria, said hello and reminded him that we had met on a plane two years earlier. He responded with a big broad smile, saying, "Jennifer, it is so nice to see you again...blah, blah, blah......(for about two minutes)....I kept trying to politely interrupt and tell him that I was not Jennifer but he kept talking, animated by his ongoing conversation with Jennifer. I don't know exactly when it happened but at some point I decided it would be easier just to be Jennifer than to explain that I was really someone else who most likely was less appealing to talk to than Jennifer. After about 10 minutes I was finally able to remove myself from the conversation and head to my committee meeting. 

So how do you tell a new colleague that you've just been impersonating them? In the end we had a big belly laugh, one for our history book, however the story does not end here.  This year Jennifer was unable to attend the MHCC annual meeting. On my way yesterday to get a quick run in before dinner, I passed the same psychiatrist in the hotel hallway. He obviously recognized me but I knew that if I stopped to talk to him I would not have enough time for my run. I quickly decided to put my head down and scoot past him without exchanging pleasantries (after all I really don't know him). Focused on my need for a run, I rationalized the innocuous snub by thinking, "well he thinks I'm Jennifer anyway!"   So how do you tell a favorite colleague that you snubbed the colleague who thinks that I'm her???? 

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