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American History
Dissension, Tribal And


      The short,  squatty,  little woman  came bearing down on the office where I worked with a trouncing attitude. The minute the department head of one of the larger groups of students pushed the door open it was clear she was not in a good mood.

      “I'm not putting up with this anymore. I'm tired of my students being made second class. We've gone over and over this and there is going to be a stop put to it.”

      Evidently the woman had endured the abuse coming to her own since they were smaller, younger and often did not speak but very little English.

      I demand to talk with Dr. Wall and immediately. This is just going to stop.

      Well, here was the challenge. This woman was seasoned and skilled in her craft. She had gone through the university and was thoroughly capable of handling her job. I was nineteen, green as a gourd, and almost able to handle the responsibilities of the job. It was now or never. Stand up to the raging lady or get into all kinds of difficulty with my job. Dr. Wall did not know the staff at all. Every person coming into the office was new to him. I had gone over and over names while giving him just a short description of what their job was, where they worked, and the location of their office. I tried to point out the strengths of their personality since this is what he wanted to know. What could they do well?  This lady hardly ever used our office since she was totally under a different department and I had forgotten her. Now I was paying for the over site. Dr. Wall had no knowledge of her job, who she was, or for that matter, not even her name.

        “Not a good situation,” I'm thinking.

       “Dr. Wall is preparing for a conference and is not taking anyone at the moment.” It wasn't a lie. He seemed to be always preparing for a conference with this or that department heads. I knew he could have seen her but I wasn't about to let her through his door in her present state of mind. She would have chewed him up and spit him out which would have caused her trouble in the long run.

      With a long,  hard glare the woman faced me down but must have decided I was going to stand my ground. She turned and flounced out in a huff while muttering all the way, “This isn't over.”

      I turned away from the long counter that had separated the two of us. When I walked through Dr. Wall's door,  he was like a warrior in a crouched position while at his desk. His interest had been aroused since he obviously had heard the total conversation. He had his head turned up from the paper work before him. The wary look on his face told me he was totally unaware of what was happening but was immensely curious.

      “Who was that woman?”  His question made me want to laugh because he certainly was interested but at the same time a little intimidated by her confrontation of his office.

       “She's the head of one of our larger departments. I neglected to tell you her name and position. She never uses this office because her funding comes from that large tribe. It was an mistake on my part not to remember her.  There are always rifts between the other students and hers and she is angry. It is her duty, she feels, to protect her charges and rightly so. It is a tribal dissension with no solution. Every once it a while things get a little out of hand between her students and the other tribes. This is probably what has happened. I just didn't want you to have to deal with her without your knowing what the problem was and not having some background on her.”

       “Okay, I see.”  Dr. Wall was on top of the situation now. “Pull her file so I can go over it, please.”

       “If we have it. That department comes under the main office, I believe.”

       “Okay, if that is so, call Suzy and request the file for me.”

       So ended the rough place in the day with the secretary, me, taking the usual brunt of the moment.


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