The next name that Henry gave Brianna was one she knew. Thomas (call me Tommy) was the Majority leader of the state legislature. She wasn’t aware that he was a former resident of Henry’s foundation.
When Tommy came to the foundation, it was clear that charisma was his talent if you could call it a talent. When Brianna thought about charisma, she thought of two perspectives. One perspective was one of leadership while the other one was more negative: a glad hander.
In anticipation of her interview with Henry, Brianna did a legislative history search of Tommy. One thing that stood out was his leadership in raising the state’s legal drinking age to 21. His speeches in support of raising the drinking age were very passionate.
Of all the interviews Brianna had done in her talent stories, this one was the worst. She was unable to get one single reflective answer from Tommy. He used the pronoun I several times in every sentence. She felt that he was treating the interview like a campaign message. His charm was off-putting, and she even had the sense that he was hitting on her.
Brianna decided to change directions and get a sense of Tommy from former residents in the foundation. Those revealed a very different picture. A few comments began to help her understand Henry’s disappointment.
“He was always sneaking beer into the building. I think of what a hypocrite he was when he took the lead in raising the drinking age”- Bob
“The girls called him Tommy Hands because he was always trying to touch parts of our body. He was a real creep.” –Shelly
“I can’t think of anything he did to support others. He is definitely a taker and not a giver.” – Mary
The final part of her story came from a local businessman. “When the drinking age was raised, Tommy asked me to go in with him on investing in convenience stores adjacent to college campuses. I withdrew when I found out the main features of the stores was going to be a beer cave. He wanted to take advantage of the law he passed to raise the drinking age. The way he figured it was that limiting access to beer would make it more popular.”
As Brianna wrapped up her story, she began to wonder how much a despicable person could be in such a high position in state government. No wonder he was such a disappointment to Henry.
* * *
“Charm and charisma can often be a disguise for shallowness.”