I won't mention the European country ("X") or provide names, as you'll see why. The embarrassment
for me started the day after a speaking engagement that I had helped to arrange at X's version of
West Point. Angela, my U.S. military office's community relations advisor and a local national, hit me
with precision-guided salvos the next morning, as soon as she saw me walk nonchalantly past her office door.
But Captain, the Prince thought that you were mad at him!
Angela, what do you mean? I didn't even interact with the cadet--him! After all, I was just
an escort for the American officer. So, when Captain Jones gave his speech to the
eager-to-learn-English cadets, Jones and I were guided to a reception room for he
and the Prince to meet, have some coffee and pastry and converse. Being an escort, it wasn't
about me, so I just stood in a corner, glad that I was witnessing the rapport between
a future King and--oh no!
Oh, yes. The Academy commander just called to relay that the prince thought that you were aloof
with him or something, and he couldn't figure out why you didn't want to talk with him.
Well, how in the world am I going to live this down? You know that, every month, we send
a junior military officer to talk about his or her experience. Now it will be "Captain Stuck-up" and his
guest speaker--unless I get an audience with his future highness to deliver my own speech,
a mea culpa. You will just have to be the escort yourself, from now on!
I often look back on this international snafu with a chuckle, sometimes with regret. It has served
as a reminder that minding one's station should be coupled with an open eye to serve
and gain rapport. I do recall how the now-King looked at me with an inquiring glance from the corner
of an eye.
If I'd only had my antennas up. I can share this with my grandchildren before they reach the, "Oh come on!" stage.
Innocence doesn't read social demands into things.
Paul said, "We all err in many ways." We need to be ready to excuse others--perhaps even ourselves.
I've done the latter to myself many a time. This ability keeps us from being harsh, while still leaving
it open to politely expect better from ourselves and others. Room to rebound.
I wonder what would happen if I wrote an open letter to the King. Would an anonymous letter make
it past his correspondence gatekeepers? I'd like to just say, "Hey remember when ... ? I just hope
you and the Queen are doing well." No, I'll leave it alone.
Who knows. Maybe the King remembers that position can intimidate or unintentionally inhibit. One thing I do know.
From what what I've seen on TV and other media, he is kind to those around him.