Why I could never work in fundraising

I just got home from one of those rich-people dinners that people in my profession sometimes have to go to. I think this one wasn't actually supposed to be a rich-people dinner, but due to some crossed wires, two different dinners were planned, and the poor scholars' dinner was merged with the rich-people dinner; it wasn't the organizers' fault, so I was determined not to feel put upon. They had lots to say about the parties they'd had, the culture they'd consumed, the objects they'd collected, and then sold, to collect other things. They complained that the restaurant wasn't up to their standard. They complained that the waitress was female and not male. They complained that the waiters in France are foreign and not French. They complained that at a local cafe they asked for "still water" and were served tap water instead. They complained about Bush's foreign policy and the way they found to do so was to make a racist comment about Condoleezza Rice--one so subtle and so dependent on rich-people culture, in fact, that I wouldn't have picked up on it except that they ostentatiously apologized for it to me, knowing I would object. ("The problem is," the man said, without referring to the Secretary of State, "he has a downstairs maid for an upstairs maid.") Meanwhile, I settled into my role. Rather than squirming silently, I tried to chide them humorously, even vociferously, but never aggressively, for their views. I thought, I'll make this interesting for them without making them hate me, and maybe at least they'll have to see that their views aren't universally held. One of them kept calling me charming, and told me that if I ever found that there was no joy left in working, I should quit. Not bad advice, though it would help to have his money. I wouldn't want his money if I'd have to have his prejudices along with it.

Ah, well. I had a laugh about it afterwards with a colleague. But I still feel dirty.

So that's why I could never work in fundraising.


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