I had an epiphany today about a dinner that I’ve been invited to by my alma mater. Please allow me to recount for you, my one reader, the details of my road to epiphany-ism.
It all began, like most stories, in February 2008. My alma mater, which shall remain nameless so as to protect my upcoming free dinner, called me and asked for a “contribution.” I remember trying every way possible to get off of the phone…I may have even pretended like I was being assaulted by Russel Crowe, if I’m not mistaken. However, after my vain attempts to get off of the phone, when I checked to see if I was still connected, a cheery sounding student volunteer assured me gleefully that she was still on the line and ready to take my “commitment” as an alumni. Finally, I remember asking what the lowest level of donor giving could be. I was enthusiastically told that twenty dollars would be sufficient for her to return full control of my phone to me. I was disappointed that they didn’t have an amount that ended in the word “cents,” but I reluctantly agreed anyway. “Put me down for twenty bucks,” I said, thinking that they’d forget.
Well, it wasn’t too long after that agreement that the contribution statements started coming in. I ignored the first one. Then, either another one seemed to immediately come in the mail or the original one made its way out of the trash, sealed itself back up and crawled once again into my mailbox. Coincidence, I thought. I was naive. The contribution statements kept coming to the point where they now surpass credit card offers as my largest source of mail. In fact, I believe that the U.S. postal service may have had to either raise postal rates or cut back to five days of service per week were it not for the postage being paid by my alma mater to ensure that I kept my pledge. I am sure that over twenty dollars has been spent in letterhead, envelopes, time and postage to hold me to my twenty dollars.
I’m actually begining to get a bit scared because one of the last letters actually informed me that my commitment was going to be turned over to a collections agency for “handling.” Anyway, the contribution statements kept coming; however, a new twist to this story recently emerged.
I received a letter indicating that I have been cordially invited to a “Grow the University” banquet, replete with cocktails and dinner. The whole shindig is free. I just thought that the university was being generous until I spoke with a fellow alum today at work. I mentioned the dinner to him and he had no clue. He said that I must be a contributor or something. That’s when I put the pieces together.
Either I am getting a free dinner, with cocktails, for being on a list that says that I’m a big-time donor to the school, or I’m being set up by my alma mater in order to collect my twenty dollar debt. I’ve already responded and indicated that I would be attending this “business attire” event. I don’t know if this is unconscionable. In either case, I’m going to bring some mace to the party just in case its all just a big set-up to have the school mascot hold me down down while the university president pilfers through my wallet for money.