“No one gossips about other people’s secret virtues.” Bertrand Russell
I mentioned last week for the first time in YEARS, I don’t have concerts or gigs pending and have had time to be around the house much more, so we decided to do some home improvements. The basement re-do is finished and the KITCHEN re-do has begun. The household is in flux, but the upside is we’ve been organizing as we go.
I’ve found things I had forgotten about, including a file of letters from a former singer of mine, Edie*, who sang in my church choir from a long-ago position. These letters were sent soon after my departure from that job I loved at the beginning and merely tolerated at the end. In the letters, Edie complained about my replacement, and more. What she expected me to do, I’ll never know, but she went into detail and gave her opinions. Most of the letters were gossip, pure and simple, with some polite inquiries about my family thrown in. She tended toward the nasty-side of things, behaving such that we can understand why Church Ladies get a bad rap.
Last week, I mentioned I would share portions of a few of these letters and give you my feelings with a Choral Ethics perspective. Today I will share portions of a letter with the earliest date (if I had gotten earlier letters, I’m sure I would have saved them too) but this seems to be the beginning of our correspondence.
Edie began her letter with the weather, what the temperatures had been like that January and how much snow they had gotten at that point.
“As you may know by now the church has a new choir director. That is what she calls herself, but she sure is pulling the wool over somebody’s eyes! She comes in late for rehearsals and leaves early. She can not keep an even tempo when she tries to direct. She sings flat and tries to blame Dotty* (the organist). Both Dotty and I have tried to speak to her to help her but she just ignores Dotty and has laughed at me. Believe it or not I have not gone back into the choir since Christmas and as long as they keep paying her for doing nothing, I don’t intend to go back.”
“Not only is this girl a farce as a director is concerned, she is a vulgar and crude person.” She gives examples of her crudeness and goes on:
“Poor Dotty is the one I feel sorry for. This girl has not only been rude to her but has gone so far as to tell her how to play the organ. She doesn’t realize Dotty has been playing before she was born. I know Dotty has been in tears several times and if she ever walks out the church will suffer a great loss.”
After wondering about the competence of the church secretary and how early in the week music selections need to be submitted, she goes on:
“Barb*, Kath* (choir members) and others are also disgusted but I think are too chicken to let their feelings be known. It is too bad this young woman is being paid for doing absolutely nothing but pulling a good bluff.”
Edie ends her letter asking about my children, their new school district and hopes we are all well.
I am still a bit shocked by Edie’s letters. At the beginning, I’m sure it was a bit flattering to be contacted, but also irritating to be pulled into a drama I was happy to leave. Here are my thoughts about those letters. As I re-read them, I tried to imagine what their purpose was, and could not. When I advise ChoralNetters about their own Choral Ethics dilemmas, I always ask them to think about what purpose/motive someone could have for doing something. I thought I’d take my own advice.
Other than inform me what was happening at my old place of employment, there was no purpose. In later letters, Edie tries to make me feel guilty for leaving or possibly not giving the congregation enough time to find a decent replacement. When I was hired, it was not a secret my spouse was doing a medical residency and we would be moving on at some point. And I gave them one year’s notice I would be leaving so Edie’s guilt-tripping didn’t matter. This first letter set the stage for what was to come, and believe me, there is more to come.
Until next week, be well and be safe.
I am taking my Choral Ethics Blogs to my chamber choir’s Facebook page for the foreseeable future. Please join me there this morning! https://www.facebook.com/themidwestmotetsociety/