There’s an old saying in the Midwest: the only thing more unpredictable than the waters of the mighty Mississippi River are the Cape Girardeau city council meetings.
More than a dozen onlookers chatted breezily, flipping through agenda packets. A dog yipped from somewhere in the back row as the meeting was gaveled to order. The dais was light two council members–Bob Fox and Wayne Bowen left empty chairs and broken hearts in their absence.
But the time for mourning faded quickly, as city manager Scott Meyer whipped the crowd into a frenzy with a tale of heroism and intrigue.
“We had one nice story about something our employees do all the time: going the second mile,” he bragged to the audience. “We recently had a firefighter who, in taking care of a trucker who had to be taken by ambulance [and] was really concerned about his truck….He took it upon himself to go the second mile and to take care of that truck and get it safe and secured.”
Council members leaned forward eagerly as Meyer proudly added, “and that’s just something your friends and neighbors do every day.” Yes, every day the streets are chock full of abandoned–but well taken care of–trucks.
Then without warning, the city manager veered off script.
“One more announcement. Julia’s gonna make that for me,” he smirked.
Council members swiveled their heads quizzically toward the podium. I don’t like the looks of this. How bad is the news that he had to outsource it?!
“Thank you, Scott,” smiled Julia. “It’s my distinct pleasure and honor to announce that our mayor, Harry Rediger, was accepted as the Outstanding Public Official for this past year!”
Cheers and whistles exploded in the chamber. The dog howled. Mayor Rediger sheepishly flipped through his packet.
“I didn’t see that on the agenda,” he quipped.
“No! We were trying to keep it a surprise,” exclaimed Julia.
The mayor flashed a big grin.”Well, you did!”
Who says there are no secrets in small towns! In fact, I bet those two missing council members were about to spill the beans–until Julia took care of them. (Permanently.)
Julia advised His Honor to mark the ceremony on his calendar. “At our conference in Branson on March 9, we’re hoping you’ll be able to make it.”
The city manager lurched in his chair. “March 9?! That’s the night of a strategic plan meeting.” He feigned begrudging acceptance and clapped a hand on the mayor’s shoulder. “But you can miss ONE.”
Mayor Rediger was still a wee bit embarrassed from all the attention. “I told ’em I was gonna go to every one of them!” he said apologetically to the city manager. Then he turned to Julia.
“I can make that.”
After all that excitement, the meeting moved swiftly and uneventfully to a close. Even the chicken ordinance, which normally would get my feathers ruffled, failed to take flight.
Final thoughts: For being able to pull off a surprise, I give Julia and the city manager 10 out of 10 strippers-jumping-out-of-cakes.