Here’s A Little Ditty ‘Bout Jack & Diane

Jack and Diane were two all American adults chasing their dreams in the big state of Texas. Diane was independent and got along doing the best she could, but she never managed to get out of hand to mouth mode.

Jack, on the other hand, Jack made it rain. And he loved to play the hero.

They knew each other for years and their relationship was punctuated with manic swings. It didn’t take long before their friends saw them as the dysfunctional on-again, off-again couple friends.  They would have a big, messy public fight, make up, and repeat the cycle ever few years. It was all so ubiquitous.

Then one summer day, Jack and Diane dropped a bombshell on their friends: they were going to run off to the city for a quickie marriage.

Although to be fair, Jack made the announcement. Diane just stood by his side and smiled.

Outwardly, Diane’s BFF was happy for her, but she knew the real story. This was just an ultimatum proposal from Jack: either get married, or bounce.

“What about your job Diane?”

“Jack wants me to quit and be a homemaker,” Diane said.

“But you love that job,” said her BFF. Then with a sarcastic tone, “Although I have no idea why. You make it sounds like a stress train express with permanent brake failure.”  Her BFF returned to serious mode, “But really now, what about your money?”

Diane sat up straight. “Jack says it’s best if I just sign over all of my accounts to him. After all, you know how successful he is plus he said it’s important we do a better job at trusting each other by starting off with a clean slate.”

Her BFF shot up a single eyebrow and Diane rushed to fill in the silence.

“He said I shouldn’t even worry about giving two weeks’ notice, so I won’t. Look, do you think I wasn’t sure if I went ahead and listed my place, below market so I can just get rid of it quickly, got rid of all my old furniture, and the best part is Jack said he would let me move in and have his people take care of me until the big day!”

Her BFF’s smile returned, and with a softened tone, she asked, “So…you just gave up your life and livelihood for this new adventure?”

Diane laughed to break the tension, “I know what it sounds like silly; but really, you know Jack and there’s nothing to worry about.” A somber look flashed across Diane’s face for a moment. “It will work itself out, Jack said none of this should take longer than a month.” Then with her smile back, “he made it very clear what he wants, and I think I’ve been open and honest.”

“You know what that sounds like, right Diane?” her BFF asked with that eyebrow once again hoisted.

“I know,” Diane’s voice became demure. “But really, he makes everything sound fair and reasonable, so what could go wrong?”

You can probably see it coming a mile away; but it turned out Jack left Diane at the altar.

Diane’s BFF rushes into her dressing room, flustered, “What happened Diane, why is Jack so angry and why did he just storm out of the church?”

Diane, was exasperated, “He knew I took care of my mother and he’s always been great with her. I told him all about her home care costs and he told me it was no big deal.” Diane then picked her head up and looked right into her BFF’s eyes. “We sorted all of this out two weeks ago,” Diane’s voice started to crack and she chocked back her sobs, “But then he burst in here, furious with me, saying I was trying to saddle him with all of this debt and it was my obligation, not his,” Diane’s tone became cold as her gaze darted back to her shoes, “he kept ranting on about a clean slate and there was no way in hell he was going to get ‘bogged down with some sick, old broad’s bills.’”

“Well,” her BFF lowered her voice to a whisper, “what’s next?”

“I have no money, no job, and nowhere to live,” Diane’s face went pale and her voice became a barely audible monotone, “why bother with a next at all?”

Taking her by hand, Diane’s BFF walked her out the back of the church.  She turned to look at her, smiled, and said…

I don’t have an ending for this story yet but how do you think it should conclude?

In the meantime, I know everyone is anxious to hear what the San Antonio Symphony is going to do now that they’ve decided to reverse course and try to rescue as much of the 2017/18 season as possible. We’ll take a closer look at what’s going on once they have some details to share.

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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