Another day another hotel. Sometimes I feel like someone who has a job that occasionally causes him to be in meetings at hotels. Today’s meeting was bringing together people from Manchester, Harrogate and Guildford…oh you’ve already guessed haven’t you? Yes, we had the meeting at a hotel in the middle of an industrial estate in Dudley.
But you didn’t like being in Manchester yesterday because of ‘the bad thing’. Would you just make your fucking mind up you whining fucking twat?
Oh, I’m sorry, there are only two places in the world aren’t there: Manchester in the throes of celebrating something that depressed me and a sterile hotel – with conference facilities – in a pointless town in the West Midlands? (The most interesting sentence on Dudley’s Wikipedia page is “The original bus station was cleared in 1984 and replaced by the current bus station which became fully operational in 1987.”) I must add that the venue itself surprised me by being in Dudley AND having electricity – the battery itself was proudly displayed in a display case in the reception area.
To be fair to the person who arranged the venue for their meeting I think they are just not very good at their job; no more, no less. Fortunately, there is a follow-up two-day meeting between the same people at the same venue in a couple of weeks. This adds an extra overnight element to a meeting in the middle of nowhere that I have to say I am not looking forward to. “Oh look there’s a swimming pool,” announced a colleague saying how she would come for a swim at the next meeting. To me the swimming pool, specifically me drowning in said pool, was added to the axe near the fire alarm (axe in own skull) and the window of a top-floor room (where I would take an overdose) as potential avenues to not have to spend a night there. Very few people are patted on the back for not screaming “I can’t fucking swim you insensitive bastard” into the face of a colleague; I was added to the long list of people not recognised for not doing it. To be clear: I didn’t scream that at her. Or say fuck off. I just (professionally) did a smile that made it as obvious as possible that I was not smiling a proper smile but was still classifiable as a smile in terms of being able to say, “but I smiled” if later challenged that I was looking at people like I they were annoying me.
The meeting was (brilliantly) started with one of those mini-introduce-yourselves segments that are so popular with people who run training meetings professionally as though someone saying their name and job title instantly makes them at ease with 20 people they have never met before. There was an added element of ‘say something about you that only people who know you well would know’, an ice-breaker which, I believe, was first used by the Pre-Raphaelite artist John Everett Millais during a short spell as a HR consultant before he inflamed people (and Shakespeare) by drawing a realistic picture of Jesus in his dad’s workshop¹.
Whereas I was immediately tempted to say something about me that only people who know me well would know would be something I would not know (I am mental aren’t I kids? I am suggesting I don’t know myself well with that), I didn’t open up the pomposities and (actual) lack of self-realization. Instead I said: I sometimes eat fish by accident but never on purpose. Well it was either that or: I fucking hate these pointless little gambits and people saying “I love chocolate”, “I love football” and “I’m a Sodoku nut” has proved that all it is serving is to make me question how some people get through life happily smiling away with nothing of interest to say or think.
That said, they were all probably subverting everyone’s conceptions; mocking the banality of the question by saying the something that people would have to know them really well is probably something about them that people who have just walked near them at work would know through overhearing them say something like “I got exactly what I wanted for Christmas: a Sodoku calendar and The Sodoku Yearbook 2012: both gifts from my cat, Ginger, who I live alone with.” The joke is on me for thinking they did actually define themselves as being a ‘chocaholic’ (“I don’t even know what fruit is”).
There’s just no need for that is there? These are nice people, it was a stupid question they weren’t over-thinking and just getting on with it.
None of the above happened: today I was off sick with withdrawal symptoms from iced fingers which I love so much.
¹This was back when describing someone as a “red-headed Jew” was a slur – and not an accurate description of someone who had red hair and Jewish. This is the kind of critique-of-historical-art-criticism-footnote that is becoming almost a self-parody in my blogs. Again???