“You’d rather make a wrong decision, Mattie, than a right one with the help of others.”
That’s what Jonathon, her friend and executive director of the Saunders Bird Rescue and Sanctuary had told her after the last board meeting when she’d lost her temper and insulted the members before walking out.
She’d been awake since 4 a.m. waiting for the alarm to ring and officially start her day. With Simon away, she seldom slept more than a few hours. He said he’d be home sometime today so that meant another sleepless night, but at least one she would enjoy.
At the last board meeting, Lulu, an event planner and a member recruited by Jonathon, had put forward a motion to have the parking lot paved after she’d twisted an ankle walking in six-inch heels from her BMW Gran Turismo to the meeting across the gravel parking lot.
Mattie had been indignant. “That would cost thousands of dollars, money better spent on rescuing, rehabilitating and re-homing birds, which is why this organization exists.” She was confident the majority of members would feel as she did and defeat the motion.
“On the other hand, a paved lot would improve the appearance of the facility and add to the value of the property,” the bank manager said, a guy with a cash register for a heart.
“And the expense could be written off as a business improvement,” Jonathon said.
Jonathon siding with Lulu, business over birds? The traitor.
“There are lots of improvements that could be done to the sanctuary and the rescue center that would provide the same write off.” No longer an employee, but a full-time mom, Candice was Mattie’s ally on the board.
“But they wouldn’t generate more income,” the representative from the Delta Business Association said.
“Income, I might add, that supports the sanctuary and the rescue center,” Lulu said.
The motion passed, nine to four.
“You people need an integrity check,” Mattie had shouted before storming out of the meeting.
Jonathon had dropped by the house after wrapping up the meeting and closing the facility. “What the hell’s wrong with you?”
“There’s too much emphasis on making money and not enough on helping birds,” she’d told him.
“Without the money, there’d be no helping birds,” Jonathon said. “You should apologize to the board at the next meeting.”
“That’s not going to happen.”
And it didn’t. Since then Jonathon had been distant, which meant Mattie now had no friends. But instead of trying to reconcile, she’d doubled down, avoiding him and being terse and critical when they did speak.
What was wrong with her?
Introspection was not a quality Mattie attributed to herself, nor did she think it was helpful. But Jonathon had been the Saunders Exotic Bird Sanctuary’s first employee ten years ago when she had inherited the exotic bird sanctuary from her grandfather. Without his commitment, patience, advice and, not the least, friendship the venture would be nothing more than a bitter memory. He’d stuck by her all this time and a lot of it hadn’t been pretty. If he was pulling away, Mattie needed to consider why? Was there something about the job? He seemed to be enthused about the event center and was delegating most of the sanctuary work to staff. Did he need a change? Or was it her?
Come to think of it, Jonathon was right. Mattie would rather make the wrong decision than go through the mind-numbing, frustrating process to achieve board consensus. She was convinced in most cases she could realize her error, correct it and have moved on before the thirteen members had completed their discussion.
And yet she’d encouraged its formation, even recruited some current members. What had she been thinking?
“Establishing a Board of Directors will broaden our areas of expertise, share the responsibility of decision making, and give us more credibility with funders.” That had been Jonathon’s rationale, which made absolute sense at the time, especially the part about credibility with funders. The sanctuary and the rescue operation had been chronically under-funded, the deficit paid from Mattie’s personal account.
Deficits were now a thing of the past since The Birds of a Feather Event Center had opened and was immediately booked six months in advance. But rather than rejoicing, Mattie was conflicted.
She should have given more consideration to the part about sharing decision making.
Tonight, the Board was having their monthly meeting. Mattie would be patient, professional and personable. Well, maybe two of the three.
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