Edge of Apocalypse: pages 298-300 (Chapter Fifty-One)
So, Abigail Jordan goes to meet with the FCC Chairman. Now, since she doesn’t have an appointment, it’s going to be a little dicey. Now, as everyone who’s watched a movie involving an obstructionist government bureaucrat knows, the protagonist is entitled to be snippy with the receptionist who’s doing his or her job. Abigail Jordan is no exception.
Fewer than thirty minutes later Abigail was on the eighth floor of the Federal Communications Commission building, in the vestibule of the office of Jacob Daniels, the chairman. In her hand was the file containing the affidavit. Chairman Daniels’ secretary had already been given the message that there was an urgent need to speak to the chairman.
After a wait of forty minutes, the chairman’s legal counsel strode out. He was a young lawyer, in his early thirties, and he had a pressed smile and an insincere handshake.
“Ms…,” he said, searching for Abigail’s name.
“Abigail Jordan,” she said. “Could you tell me if attorney Cort Windom is still working as Chairman Daniels’ chief legal counsel?”
Nope, he’s not. Now cue the inevitable “I know the owner/boss/head honcho” one-liner:
“I’m afraid not. He left about a year ago to practice law with a D.C. firm. I’ve taken his spot. Can I help you?”
“I used to do a lot of work here with Mr. Windom, representing media clients before the FCC,” she said. “I also worked very closely with Chairman Daniels on a number of communications issues. Back when he was a new Commissioner. I haven’t seen him since he’s been serving as chairman. But I always enjoyed an excellent relationship with Jacob.”
“Well…that’s nice,” he said blandly.
They go on to argue over whether she can get in to see the big guy with the lawyer pointing out that “protocol” is to ask for an appointment. Walk-ins need to be vetted on a case by case basis and since lawyer dude very likely thinks Abigail is just another pushy lobbyist, he wants her to skedaddle, but can’t very well push her out the door bodily.
Abigail sat back down in the lobby chair.
“Would you like to speak to the scheduling secretary?” he asked.
“No. I’ll wait for Jacob.”
“Chairman Daniels is not going to take a walk-in appointment with you.”
Abigail smiled back at the young lawyer but didn’t move.
“Perhaps,” he said, “you should come back another time.”
She kept smiling. But didn’t budge.
“I really don’t want to have to call for security…”
“Then perhaps you shouldn’t,” she said, gripping her file even tighter.
Luckily, the chairman was just across the street for a cup of coffee because the coffee machine broke down and hasn’t been fixed yet. Probably Parshall’s very subtle joke about how government offices can’t do a damn thing right. (*rolls eyes*)
The door to the vestibule swung open, and Chairman Jacob Daniels strode in, his suit coat off and in his shirtsleeves, holding a Styrofoam cup of coffee.
“Had to go across the street to get this,” he said absently. “When are they supposed to repair our coffee machine? Does anybody know?”
Then Jacob Daniels swept the room with his gaze, looking for an answer. His eyes locked on Abigail.
He searched for her name.
“Yes, of course. With all the news about your husband, how could I forget your last name?”
So, they chitchat some more and Abigail sweetly tells Jacob that his staff was just fine, not being rude in any way. Of course, the way Parshall presents it…
Abigail glanced over at the lawyer who was no longer bouncing on his toes. He was now standing perfectly still. Hoping that the shrapnel that would be coming his way any minute would merely be a maiming injury, and not a career-killer.
“Oh, yes,” Abigail said flashing another bright smile. “Your staff attorney here has been most helpful.”
The lawyer managed a meek smile in return and started breathing again.
After that, Jacob invites her into his inner sanctum to discuss the very important thing she wishes to discuss, which, of course, will be getting the FCC to rule in favor of overriding “viewpoint discrimination”.
I was just thinking about how this segment in the book is like a riff on all the Bad Customer tales that float around these days now that there are blogs and websites that allow retail-sector people to vent about people who pull this kind of thing.
It’s standard: Hapless Retail Worker X gets Bad Customer Y trying to bully him or her into doing something, sometimes even trying on the old “I know the owner/manager!” trick to try and get what they want. Now, according to the tales told, it usually doesn’t, but here in LaHaye and Parshall-land, it works!
It has been discussed that fundamentalist Christians seem to not grok customer retail very well, as evidenced by the way some leave evangelical tracts with fake $10 ends as tips, or who tend to tip on the low end of the scale anyway. That suggests that they also tend to act like bad customers generally who think they have a licence to do so because they’re “saved” and therefore good people, so nothing they can do is wrong.
So here, LaHaye and Parshall play into the fantasies of their readership who may have been rebuffed by retail-sector workers, failing to get something they want, whereas in this book, it works! It happens! So there, ’cause that meanie lawyer probably is an atheist, anyway.
Next chapter we’ll visit with Josh – and Cal Jordan! (such a nice young man, too bad Parshall dumps such a load of crap on him in this book with the way Josh and Abby bully him.)