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Pagan Feng Shui

The guy I work with in the catering department office is known for his unique and sometimes obtuse turns of phrase. Tim comes up with euphanisms and nick names for people, things and events on the spur of the moment.  His latest was referring to a particularly pale waitstaff person as "Twilight" in a scheduling conference.  He'll sometimes refer to a large gathering of people at a buffet as a "cattle call".  When we book a party that we know is mostly older folks Tim adjusts the event start time for the "Bluehair Factor" meaning old folks invariably will show up an hour early. Student athletes who are heavy eaters are "horses at the trough".  Keeping with this irreverent, politically incorrect theme, my best selling item is an appetizer called a "Bacon Date Wrap", which inevitably became the cringe-worthy, "Bacon Date Rape".  These "Timisms" are too numerous to remember and after a while you hardly notice them.

Tim is the yin to my yang in our operation. He deals with all things front of the house like scheduling wait staff, talking to clients over the phone or in person, organizing catered events with said clients and interpreting their culinary wants and needs to me.  He's the one that makes everything pretty and I'm the one that makes sure the food's on time, hot and delicious.  We've worked together for 15 years come next January.  He's a great guy and by far the most creative, successful caterer in the area.  This year we'll likely crack the million dollar mark in annual sales.  We've made a lot of money for our clients. Not bad for essentially a three person operation.

  Anyway, today we had a meeting with the admissions dept. of the college to organize the annual admit day festivities.  Admit day is the day that all admitted students and their parents are invited for a day of special speakers, workshops and faculty meet and greets. We usually do something nice for lunch.  This year we expect 900 guests.  Incidentally,, since my kid has been admitted I get to participate in the event from the other side of the fence this year - should be fun. The meeting goes well and we come up with a plan for lunch that will be fun, special and still be in the realm of fiscal responsibility towards the college.  We changed things up significantly from the year before because of time constraints and space issues.  Since last year's event was partially our boss' idea, he was none too happy about us steering away from what he thought was a fantastic event for the parents.  The folks from the admin office wanted something a little more manageable and less over the top though.  Truthfully they wanted to put their budgetary money elsewhere besides a very expensive 45 minute luncheon. So, in the spirit of meeting the client's wishes we went with a grab and go sort of lunch that allowed for more time and money given over to the day's workshops and such.  Tim and I thought it was all good.

Later on Tim met with our boss to feel him out about how he thought things went and to see if he was good with the turn the event took.  My boss said he didn't have a problem with the new format for admit day, but he was more disturbed with Tim's frequent use of the term "Feng Shui" when talking about the dynamics of the event space, traffic flow and timing.  Confused, Tim asked for clarification.  Our boss expressed that although he lets a lot of the "Timisms" slide; he felt that use of a pagan term like "Fend Shui" was inappropriate in conversations with our client particularly since we work at a Christian institution of higher learning.  Tim went blank for almost 30 seconds before he found his voice and some semblance of a reply.  In fact, Tim told me he was so flabbergasted that he was sure he didn't make any sense and that he just wanted to say anything that would get him out of the conversation and that room as quickly as possible.  Of course, when he told me this i was dumbfounded with incredulity, and overcome with laughter.  To us the term is use a lot in the context of room set up, architecture and design.  It never occurred to me nor Tim that Feng Shui could have some sort of negative spiritual connotation vis a vis Christian belief/spirituality.  Evidently there IS the fact that it could be seen as a Pagan, non-Christian concept which I guess could be seen as insulting and anathema to the devoted Christian.  But honestly, I think its a stretch and Tim still doesn't see the connection.  The boss is gone until Monday and we've decided to talk to him about Feng Shui some more just to clear up misconceptions on both our parts.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 20th, 2012 12:56 pm (UTC)
Jan. 20th, 2012 04:47 pm (UTC)
Wow. Makes you wonder where the boss is coming from on this, for sure.
Jan. 20th, 2012 05:06 pm (UTC)
He's a good boss and his heart's in the right place, but he's kind of in this narrow bubble. Not well versed in global spirituality,societies, or customs, which having worked at a college for 20 years is sort of surprising at times. He tends to view other faiths besides Christianity as being "Pagan"(in his words). I come from a Catholic background and he views even that with trepidation. My Buddha that sits on my desk is a constant annoyance to him and our Corporate Accounts chef's recent conversion to Hinduism totally gives him a rash. Like with this "Feng-Shui" instance, though,his shaded views and knowledge gaps rise up to bite us. No real malice on his part - he just doesn't know. I remember wearing a baker's cap made from African Kente cloth for about a week before boss man noticed and told me to quit wearing it because it was Pagan. Had to talk him down from that one too. And we won't even talk about the debacle I had with him over trying to explain why Jesus' quotes in my "Catholic Bible" were printed in red, the color of Satan.
Yeah - its an interesting place to work sometimes. At times, its like working for Michael Scott and we're all running around doing damage control.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )