Due to illness a colleague couldn’t attend a training and passed the invite to me. I hurriedly packed my bags, and drove to the large hotel where the event (“competitive research”) was taking place. I really didn’t expect any shenanigans, but it was a menacing venue, a skyscraper with (no doubt) all amenities and an undersized pool in the cellar. I stormed into the building. Many participants were already on site, almost exclusively men in black business suits with vests. Very friendly men, who ignored my jeans, shirt and the absent tie, but whom involved me immediately in conversation. Yes, they were also attending the M.E. event, yes it was going to be an exciting day. I lined up in the long queue to get my training material, all the while feeling more and more out-of-place. Finally, the friendly ladies at the reception illuminated me; this queue was for the M.E. event “IT for Banking”. I was booked for the M.E. event in the next building, reachable by the connecting bridge. I sighed with relief and waved farewell to my new friends; I never realized that banking CIOs were such a friendly bunch. I hurried over the bridge and found the correct meeting room, where a dozen participants and the single presenter (all dressed in a similar fashion as I) were just getting ready to start. With mild interest they listened too my tale, of how I had confused the two meetings. One participant (a representative from pharma) was still missing, explained the presenter, but he suggested to kick off anyway (he had met him previously, he said). We did a quick round of introductions and expectation setting, the usual stuff. The presenter started off on a lengthy and very dry presentation. I longed for a coffee (which I had missed due to the hullabaloo).
Twenty minutes in, and a man threw open the door. He stared at us, and we stared back. Sweaty and red-faced, he clutched his briefcase to his chest and made for the single free chair. He sat down, directly opposite of me, got out a notepad and picked up one of the pens on the table. I found this curious, as there was a pen visible in the pocket of the vest that he wore beneath his black suit. I, and some of the other participants, looked at the presenter with question marks in our eyes. But the presenter, undeterred, just kept on rambling on. In fact, he increased volume and speed. The man started to fidget about. He looked at the presenter, then at us. He played with his necktie. He picked up a brochure from the table and flipped through it, his face getting redder and redder. The tension in the room rose to an unbearable, mortifying level, the presenter talking faster and faster, the banker realizing from the narrative that this was the wrong meeting altogether, that this was not “IT for Banking”. After several excruciating minutes, I bent forward and whispered “this is not IT for Banking”. The presenter paused and looked at me, angrily for the interruption. The banker jumped up, mumbled an apology, and ran from the room, the door banging shut behind him. Ten minutes on, and one of the participants noted drily: “He forgot his briefcase.” The presenter ignored the statement and moved to the next chapter.
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