The last-minute swap of elephants for women occurred after the video deadline. When I called it in, the video pros who were supposed to do the post-production told us they wouldn’t be able to get our video done on time.
We begged, saying it was all beyond our control, and asking for some clemency. I mean, this wasn’t like your typical wedding video they were doing, which could be a day late without an issue. A graduation video, one day late, is pointless.
They grumbled and said they would see what they could do, and we accepted that. Not just because we were aidel maidels who were used to being meek at adults. We also assumed they were pulling some Jewish guilt shtick, wherein they moan and groan about overtime and get it done anyway, and they hope we appreciate the sacrifice, kind of thing.
Indeed, being Jewish ourselves, we decided to pass the guilt on, by mentioning to the Rebbetzin that her objection to the photograph had possibly cost us our graduation video.
The Rebbetzin, I may have insinuated, is an emotional woman with two typical reactions to things she doesn’t like. Sometimes she is sad, and gives tochachah with tears running down her face. And sometimes she is furious, and evokes fire, brimstone, and the pit of gehennom. She had no trouble keeping us riveted as an audience, and was always successful in driving home the guilt we should feel about the length of our skirts, sleeves, etc. We listened, because she was older, wiser, and holier, and because we had chosen this school for the guidance it would provide, and because our parents were paying good money for us to receive this powerful education.
The video guys had none of these reasons, and yet, for about fifteen minutes, they found themselves on the receiving end of a fire-and-brimstone mussar schmooze from the Rebbetzin about how they had better get our video done on time. We cringed in our yellow plastic chairs in her office. Extended outside the environs of the school, the harangue was incongruous, if not disrespectful. We knew how you were supposed to talk to people, including customer service representatives, and this was not it. We looked at each other and felt humiliated.
We walked out and I looked at my co-producer, and she looked at me. She was one of the aidelest maidels in the grade, and I didn’t dare voice disapproval of the Rebbetzin in front of her. but she did it for me. She said: “That is not how you talk to people who aren’t your students.”
But we got our video on time.