Mayor Todd Strange smiled patiently as he waited for council members to slowly fill the numerous vacant chairs on the dais.
“Well, obviously Spring Break has taken its toll on certain council people,” Strange quipped, soldiering ahead. Montgomery City Hall was fuller than usual with brightly-dressed dignitaries lining the front rows.
“We have a large crowd visiting Montgomery: 18 or so individuals from faraway Africa! Their purpose is to study the structure of race and social justice and look to our diversity and things that work.”
Um, I get that they’re here to study race relations, but–and don’t take this wrong way, Mr. Mayor–why the h*ck did they choose Alabama?!
“We were notified by Trivago that we were the number one community as a must-see for African-American culture,” he explained. Then he wheeled around to face the audience directly.
“I see you shaking your heads, so you do understand some English. We’re delighted to have you here!”
As the mayor turned back, the visitors exchanged glances and stifled laughter. Granted, his delivery was a little goofy, but I don’t get the joke.
With that, the lady in charge of the platoon stepped forward to introduce everybody.
“The delegation this evening, ALL of whom are English speaking and representing 16 different countries in Africa, are emerging leaders.”
Ah. They all speak English. If the mayor realized his faux pas, he shrugged it off in a nanosecond. “We wanna get a group picture!” he gestured excitedly.
“This is why we come to Montgomery,” the woman deadpanned. What followed was a painful butchering of names as the journalists, attorneys, and even members of parliament gathered in front of the dais for what was, I assume, the highlight of their 6,000 mile trip.
Unfortunately, the travelers all journeyed to the exit, heading to their next event. Which meant they missed this slickly-produced audiovisual display:
Coming off the good vibes from the video, the meeting’s smooth flow was suddenly halted by a man so tall that he hunched at the podium to reach the microphone. The subject was a grave one: the city wanted to demolish his dilapidated house.
“You want to talk to us about your appeal?” President Pro Tem Tracy Larkin gently inquired in a voice so smooth you could toss a bowling ball down it.
“Yeah, my dad was fixing on [the house] and he got sick and all,” stammered the man. “I would like to have the opportunity to fix it back up to the code.”
“How much work was done so far?” Larkin murmured.
“Well, you look up on the basement, you can see all the way through,” he replied in his heavily muddled accent. “Then you look in the roof–on the edge it’s rotten. It’s real bad. Then it gotta be rewired.”
The white-haired, mustachioed housing enforcement officer jumped in. “Mr. President, it would be appropriate for the council NOT to give him any extension,” he asserted.
Oh, no! What kind of heartless bureaucrat would demolish a man’s house?
“We’re not bringing it for demolition. We contend that it’s an unsafe structure at this time,” he clarified.
“You do agree that it is an unsafe structure?” probed one council member.
“Yes,” the tall man leaned into the mic and nodded vigorously.
Well then, no demolition. No controversy. No further discussion. I guess the Africa delegation didn’t miss much after all.