My first day at the UN, I knew my Father was with me. When I stepped in that massive room for the first time, I wanted to throw up. All that time that my Father had spent with me, flooded back. I stood in shock and awe. I had finally walked into that inner sanctum, or so I thought.
I was a nobody, low down in the hierarchical scheme, but I didn’t really care, it was nice to finally feel like I did something that would make my Father smile, and shake his head. Our Canadian Ambassador, who was head of our delegation, would forever leave me with a nasty hate for Geneva. I remember vividly, him tearing a strip off of me in front of the American delegation. Having taken over the file 6 weeks prior to leaving for a massive meeting at the UN, I had no blackberry, and no way to communicate with the mission. The rest of the delegation, who were all from different departments and were pretty high up, carried blackberries, they had received an e-mail saying we would be meeting in a different room. Since I was coordinating every morning with 4 other Canadians in the hotel over breakfast, we all read the e-mail guessing it must be a meeting room at the U.N, not the mission, there was no other indication as to where exactly we were supposed to go. Since I was still low in the totem pole, the 4 other members of the delegation were a great deal higher than me, so we all made our way to the UN.
We guessed wrong, it was the embassy. By the time we figured it out, we were too late to make our way to the mission. I used one of the other Director’s blackberry and called the mission to say we were all at the UN, and I had made a huge mistake. The directions I had received before leaving, was to repair damaged relations with the 2 other countries. Which was easy, I got along really well with my counterparts, and was smoothing over a relationship that had been made rocky with an Ambassador that made lots of pretty horrendous comments. As I stood there with the American delegation, laughing about something, I don’t remember what, my Ambassador came right up, and began to yell at me for my stupidity over not understanding we were supposed to meet at the mission. It was a blow I couldn’t really comprehend, the head of the delegation was an expert, and I had admired him for all the work he had done, but as a person, I was just shocked to a frozen position. I remembered thinking of my Father, and thought in my head, F you jackass.
I did not appreciate being humiliated in front of anyone. Yes, I made a mistake, and had owned up to it, but a public humiliation was not necessary. The ritual of morning meetings were a complete waste of time, the majority of the time, we were left in a room by ourselves with no instruction. As other delegates looked at him with their mouths dropped open, I smiled, and looked at him and called him by his first name (which is a no no in diplomacy) and said “yes, so sorry for the mistake, I guess one always needs to be perfect like you.” He was not impressed. I just walked away, he was an ass, but he was also the head of delegation. I took the punch, and promptly went to the bathroom to vomit. I sat on that floor in the UN bathroom, and wondered what the hell I was doing there.
Later that day, the head of the American delegation grabbed my shoulder, squeezed it, and said “we have all dealt with massive ego’s, lets all meet for beer later, we need to work on a project together.”
I guess, I needed to thank my head of delegation, he made himself look like an ass, and well, he made my working relationship with my counterparts easy.