An Open Letter to a Failed “Leader”

For the purposes of this open letter, the subject shall be addressed as “Debra.” –Ty

Dear Debra,

I hereby withdraw my apology. I don’t do that often, and in fact this may be the first time I’ve ever done so. But I’ve had years to think about this, and I’ve decided that apologizing to you was a mistake. You didn’t earn it or deserve it. Nor did I (or do I) feel, in the end, that I actually did anything I shouldn’t have. I certainly never felt better for doing so, because I think I apologized in part to get to the bottom of things, and hopes of restoring an equilibrium to our so-called working relationship. But since it is you, and some of your associates that disrupted the equilibrium in the first place by intentionally humiliating me, it is you who should have apologized. You didn’t of course, and that’s one reason why today you’re finally getting this letter.

It’s not your fault that I had few friends in college at the time. Nor is it  your fault that I am not the most charming or charismatic person out there. I don’t schmooze or small talk, or laugh at things that aren’t funny simply because everyone else has done so. I’m not impressed by people easily. Yet I didn’t think I’d have to be all of those things in order to be in the College Progressives Club. Other clubs I assumed would require more of that, but the CPC was one of the first and only clubs I ever joined because I thought, (foolishly) that its description was accurate-that you were a group of people with similar social and political ideas to my own, seeking to take an active part in promoting such principles in the community and around the state. But I suppose I also had to be personally appealing, or exciting, or gregarious in order to count as a legitimate person to any of you.

At least that’s the lasting  impression you left me with when after a few meetings, (wherein we frankly did very little), you informed the group of a chance to attend a rally by the party’s presidential candidate that year. As in the American Presidential nominee. I’d never been to such an event, and I thought it might be my only chance. So of course I signed up for the carpool that would be taking the club there. The last thing you said to the group in the last meeting before the rally was something like, “Be at the hardware store on K Street at 7:00AM tomorrow morning to get a ride.”

I was there, of course. Nobody else was. Nobody was there at 7:05. Or 7:10. I walked up and down the empty block in the chilly autumn air that Saturday wondering where you and everyone else were. My question was quickly answered, however, when I saw the only car on the street that morning whiz past me, driven by you and filled with the rest of the CPC…each of you looking at me as your drove by on your way to the rally.

I have no idea if you expected to see me there at that moment as an added bonus, or if you had assumed I’d no longer be there by the time you drove by.  That much isn’t obvious. But here are a few things that were obvious then, and remain obvious all this time later.

It was obvious you had all met up in an entirely different location than the one I had been given. It was obvious you had all withheld this information from me between the last meeting and the planned rendezvous. It was beyond obvious that you all saw me from your car as I was walking down the street waiting for you all to show up.

And the most obvious thing in this entire matter;  none of you ever wanted me to go with you in the first place. Despite the fact that I was a member of the club in good standing, and it was a club event, you and those under you did not want me to come. The fact that you didn’t stop and pick me up as you flew by and looked at me was a pretty good indication that this was so, even if  changing of the rendezvous point and keeping it from me had not already given that fact away.

Did all of you assume that because  I’m not especially outgoing I must also be stupid? That I wouldn’t notice or care that I’d been ditched by an entire club? I’ll answer my own question, actually. The answer is no. None of you thought any of those things. What you did think, and hope, was that I’d quit the club as a result of this snubbing.

In short it was as bitchy as it was cowardly. The only bitchier thing to do was respond to my email complaining about it the next day by saying that there was “no room left in the car.”

“No room left in the car,” that the entire rest of the CPC had managed to squeeze into. The car that had met blocks away from where I had been sent. The car that had no brakes, I suppose, because it didn’t even stop long enough for any of you to feed me the “no room” lie in person. As shitty as that would have been, it would have been something closer to respectable than an email sans apology.

You and the rest of the club gave people with my social and political convictions a bad name by proving what sniveling cowards you are. Big talk about changing the country, without the slightest regard for the feelings or intelligence of one of your own members. You and everyone else in the club of which you were the much-praised president had not the decency to just say what was clearly on all of your minds; “We’d prefer you to leave the club. You’re not interesting enough to help us work for political causes.

I of course quit the club as soon as I got your email. As I said, that was your intent from the beginning when you gave me the slip, don’t even pretend otherwise.

So I sent another, less diplomatic email that in addition to my resignation from the CPC mentioned what a lousy leader you are, among other choice words.

We had a class together that semester which made the entire thing more awkward and off putting. I hated even seeing you. But as Christmas time rolled around, I decided to apologize for my alleged part in the affair: the curt resignation email that I still nevertheless felt  you deserved. Good will toward men and all.

I should have known that someone as shallow, superficial and hypocritical as yourself would not respond to the gesture. After all if you had any respectability you’d not have ditched me on the street that morning. So though I was offended in class, I wasn’t at all surprised when I asked you if you’d gotten my voicemail, and you replied with, “Yeah thanks” before turning away. I suppose I had hurt your feelings, or made you feel small with the things I’d said after the rally. How horrible. If only I could have known what it was like to be made to feel that way, right, Deb? So you were once again curt and rude.

It’s the sort of thing a bitch does, and quite frankly, Debra, Progressive or not, you’re a bitch. To this day I don’t see what anybody in the political-science department saw in you, or really in one another. It was one of the most self-centered, judgmental and superficial departments of human beings I think I’ve ever encountered anywhere, and you were their poster child. Had I been just a tad wiser, I could have used your very presence in this world let alone on campus as a sign to change majors. I didn’t though, and I shall forever wear the embarrassing badge of having the same degree in the same field of study from the same college as the likes of a duplicitous fake such as yourself.

To this day, your unfortunate (but thankfully brief) appearance in my life has served as a warning to not apologize to anybody too quickly, and to make sure I truly feel at least some remorse before I do. I realize now that I never felt any true remorse for being rude to you. Not then, and not now. You had it all coming. So the apology was foolish and is henceforth rescinded. I only wish my memories of you and the other CPC members could be so easily dismissed from my less social but far conscientious, honest and intelligent mind.

-Ty Unglebower

This post is part of the Open Letter Continuum.


  1. randomreader

    Wow, I can really relate to this. I quit Pol Sci because I joined a group that I realized was not for me… though we don’t have the exact same experiences this is something that speaks to me. I would have preferred their outright rejection than being ‘accepted’. They’ve probably forgotten my existence now anyway…

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