A high school friend invited me and others to a concert featuring a female rock singer—someone who could fill a club or maybe an amphitheater, but not a stadium, a woman who’s more notable for influencing male rock stars than for her own performances. (And someone whose music I’ve never heard.) We sat near the front, where I held two vertical poles that could connect to one another through cross pieces.
We won a drawing and were invited backstage during the break. My friends disappeared, and I discovered that I would have to cross a gap high above the stage onto a crumbling concrete ledge full of holes. I hesitated, wondering why this sort of thing always happens to me, and swung over ungracefully by sitting.
While my friends were getting a conventional on the floor below—I could see them from the perspective of a third party through the cross section of wall, similar to how the inside of the Borg ship was sometimes shown on Star Trek: The Next Generation—I was taken backstage and questioned. I was asked to whom a reporter owes his loyalties from an ethics perspective. At first this seemed a simple question—the employer—but later I thought loyalty should be to the public and the public good. Feeling trapped, I suspected my answer was unsatisfactory and wondered what I was expected to prove. I knew they wanted my poles, which could help cure an ailing band member. That’s why we had “won” the tour.
It must have worked because I found myself in the band’s inner sanctum, the place they didn’t want anyone to know about. A series of grandmotherly women cried as they lined up to hug me. I thought that no one would believe any of this.
Strangely, in all this I had never met the singer herself. As I contemplated and questioned the positive review I would give the experience and thought about how moved I was by it, I passed her and one of her intimate friends. They were deep in conversation and ignored me. I was hurt and wondered what this snub meant after all that had happened. I felt bitter and guilty about it.