A part of my job at the Key Office went as follows: People would come in with key cards, or send them in through the mail, to get a key for somewhere on campus. Obviously we can not just let anyone and everyone get keys, so we require certain signatures. Depending on what Dept you are from or what access you need in that moment. Etc For each dept and college there are specific people that are allowed to sign for keys. We have signature cards that show who are approved signers and such.
The presidents office sent some key cards through the mail for two of their employees and I picked them up and began to issue them. Until I saw that President Cecil O. Samuelson had been the one to sign them. I looked in my system, he was definitely not an authorized signer. But he is president of the University. Does it matter? Oh well. I will just issue them anyway and send a little note.
Those were all the thoughts that rushed through my head in that moment. So, I decided I would issue the keys anyway, and write President Samuelson's secretary a note asking him to sign the authorization form. Not a big deal right?
Well, I was 18, young and still wrote notes exactly how I talk. In this note I said, a midst other things, the following: "...even though we all know President Samuelson is a pretty big deal around here, we still need to have his signature on file. I went ahead and issued the keys and they can be picked up. But if you could send this card back after he signs it, that would be great." And I sent it to the President's office. Not thinking anything of it.
Two days later I get called into my big boss man's office... he brought me to tears and I felt sick for weeks about being "disrespectful" and "treating such matters lightly" and "how dare I take matters like that into my own hands" with the whole situation. It was awful and I thought I was going to get fired.
I have had countless opportunities to meet President Samuelson throughout my years of college. Through BYUSA and Cougar United, we have sat in on meetings together, eaten at the same table etc. Have I ever met him? No. I have avoided it like the plague. Thinking that if he ever met me and knew my name he would kick me out of the University for being so disrespectful. Needless to say, I have been scared to ever meet him in any situation.
FAST FORWARD THREE YEARS --- My dearest supervisor at the Key Office, Shawna, is called into the Relief Society Presidency in her ward. They have a stake training. Who is the one training Shawna? None other than Chadra Kling, President Samuelson's personal secretary. She asks Shawna where she works at BYU and she tells her, "at the Key Office." Chadra replies, "Ohhh really. Oh man, have I got a story for you!!" Instantly Shawna knows what she is referring to and is getting ready for the worst, when Chadra says, "Your employee Kendra, who sent that note to me years ago...Oh my goodness! You would not believe about what a joke that has become in our office. Anytime anyone asks the President to do something he feels is menial he often responds with, 'Can't. Sorry, I am a big deal.' The note has been framed on his wall in his office since we received it. We have absolutely loved it! We frequently tell people that come in about what a 'big deal' our President is. We never thought it was disrespectful at all."
As Shawna is telling me this story I have a lot of emotions going through me. Humiliation, embarrassment, euphoria, anger (about being so sick about it for months/years!), and last of all, relief. We laughed about it, for a LONG time that day. Everyone in the office was just dying.
That was about 4 months ago and I decided that I needed to tie up my final loose ends at BYU before I leave this place for good. So I went, on a whim, and decided I was going to meet President Samuelson in his office. I walked in and Chadra asked me, "Hi, what can I do for you?"
"Uh...I would like to meet with President Samuelson please."
"In regards to what exactly?"
Well, how do I put this... "Well, my name is Kendra Haynie and years ago I wrote a note from the Key Office"
"OH! MY! GOSH! You are Kendra from the Key Office?!"
(In the mean time, two other people rush in from the other office and come and shake my hand with, "Your Kendra?!"'s going off everywhere.)
Yep, I am. Hi. This is awkward. It was then that Chadra pulled out the ORIGINAL note that I wrote so many years ago and showed it to me. I read through it, I was embarrassed. But glad to have it make such a story. She also showed me a campus memo that was sent to the President just a few months ago, referring to him as a campus entity. He was requested to respond. Across the top, just in pen, he wrote, "I used to be a big deal around here...now I am just a campus entity." and sent it back. That was all. Isn't that hilarious?
President Samuelson then walked out of his office and shook my hand. Saying how good it was to finally meet me, the big deal joke starter, after all these years. We talked for a good twenty minutes about my life, my involvement at BYU, my graduation and my future. When I told him I was going on a mission he hugged me. And to think that I have avoided meeting him all these years! :) I asked him if we could take a picture, he said of course, and then I was on my way. Laughing and whistling to myself, as the story has finally come full circle.
I think I am officially good to go on graduating now. No more loose ends here.