>I interviewed a pretty interesting subject yesterday. In my line of work, I usually find the most memorable subjects to be the worker bees — those who do the grunt work to execute an idea. You know, not the head honcho of a pharmaceutical company, but the lowly researcher and scientist. I find I can relate to these worker bees, that I can tell a story from their perspective. After all, “grunt work” is my middle name. But, yesterday I interviewed a Queen Bee.
The super-talented photographer Josh Ritchie and I met with Nancy Brinker yesterday at a suite facing the Atlantic Ocean on the 34th floor of the Westin Diplomat hotel. For those who don’t know, Brinker is, simply put, a baller. She’s the founder and CEO of the Susan G. Komen For the Cure, a former U.S. ambassador to Hungary, and one of TIME magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world in 2008. She is to humanitarianism what LeBron James is to basketball.
To illustrate the gravity of interviewing Brinker, I told Josh that yesterday was the first time in about two years that I actually had to think about what I was going to wear to the interview. I meticulously laid out my clothes the night before (a belted light wool black shift dress), making sure this wasn’t one of my usual stain-laden outfits.
Josh took this photo of Nancy yesterday, with her appropriately wearing the color pink, no obvious stains.
We talked about a lot of things. Her achievements, her goals and, most importantly, her fight for breast cancer research. She lost her sister, Susan G. Komen, to breast cancer 30 years ago. She talked, I listened. Surprisingly, when I talked, she listened. Classy, that’s for sure.
I told her I don’t have a sister, only two brothers. But, I told her my best friend is like my sister, and I couldn’t imagine losing her. Though my best friend isn’t blood, she’s pretty darn close to it. I then asked her what it was like losing a sister. In her words, “Along with losing my husband, it simply was the most traumatic event of my life.” Her eyes paused. She squinted slightly. It was as if she needed a moment to visualize her next statement. After a half-second delay, Brinker continued, saying because her sister was so healthy, so kind, so lovely, the trauma of seeing her Suzy cut, burned and poisoned was devastating. And unfortunately a lasting memory for Brinker.
After my 20-minute interview session, and as Josh was snapping photos of her for our article, I began putting two and two together. I saw my interview subject for who she really was: an exalted woman celebrated for overcoming her trauma and applauded for her fight against it. I better understood how human Queen Bees are, how human this queen is. And, on second thought, maybe I could have shown up with a stain or two.