Ok, for most people this picture would seem an entirely benign image. For some, it might be oddly comforting, with its symmetric layout...glasses placed in even numbers on either side of the sweating water pitcher, pens laid evenly on both sides of the complimentary Hyatt notepads, the tray of candy, inviting. For me and many souls like me, the picture is a dire warning of something horrible to come. Whenever I see this image or any like it, my bowels begin to constrict, beers of sweat start to form around the hairline, then my heart sinks. I know what this picture means. I know what I will be doing for the next however many hours....sitting and trying desperately to listen, trying desperately not to bolt from the room.
I have been attending meetings of this sort for nearly 35 years now. They are necessary. There is information that I must know and apparently, mankind hasn't figured out a more efficient way to disseminate this information since the Council of Trent. So, here I am.
I am not without recourse. I always pick a table in the back of the room, so on the many occasions when I find standing up utterly irresistible I can do so without being too much of a distraction to 99% of the other perfectly normal men and women in the room who seemingly could sit through a three hour tort lecture without even shifting their weight from one butt-cheek to the other. I watch them and marvel at their...stillness. Who are these people? More importantly, what is wrong with me??
Maybe all of them are on some sort of medication which renders even the most sand-poundingly boring material absolutely fascinating. Or maybe they all are grown ups and have acquired the adult skill of sitting and listening. Regardless, I sat through 6 hours and listened to 8 different speakers, all of whom were highly skilled and professional. I'm thinking I might have heard and processed roughly 2 hours of information. The rest of the time I was busy A. Pondering how anyone could possibly have come up with the design of this carpet and B. How anyone else could possibly have purchased it. And, don't get me started on this chandelier... an explosion in a plastics factory that claimed the lives of fifty people. I'm telling you, it is seriously hideous. The rest of the time I ..wait...SQUIRREL!!!!