March 19th, 2012

Rants from the Rat-Race: The Business Trip, Part 2

7 a.m.

Or what I thought was 7 a.m. The hard-working La Quinta employees have forgotten about the time change. (All of this is happening before daylight savings time, so I’m not sure what time change slipped their mind exactly. Especially considering that it is now 8:36.) I slap at the alarm clock radio repeatedly, like a beached sperm whale begging for assistance. This turns a Top 40 channel up to full blast, switches the channel to AM static and somehow changes the time to 12 a.m.

I am already dressed from the night before, so I efficiently brush my teeth with my finger because I like to leave many items at home to add adventure to my travels. I shave with a razor I borrowed from the front desk using conditioner as shaving cream. Halfway through, I decide that the blade ripping my stubble out is just too painful and settle on a neck-beard and a mustache. I look like a pre-teen Civil War general, but that will make me look creative. I walk out the door, donating another phone charger to another hotel.

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I walk down to the reception area and eat three omelets that taste like a cartoon. Grape snow-cones never really taste like grapes, so I don’t mind that these half-moons of egg and cheese taste so much like EGGS! and CHEESE!

10 a.m.

I arrive at the Holiday Inn conference center and look for a parking space. You might be asking yourself why I didn’t just stay at the Holiday Inn. Shut up.

I settle on the parking garage, even though that’s how they always getcha! (like my grandpa yells at Dairy Queen employees when they have to charge for that much gravy) I wander into a wedding rehearsal and an AA meeting before I find the room in which I am intended to present. The other events looked to have more fun crowds than mine, members of which are already waiting in anticipation, but I will make the most of this.

The key to any presentation is making the audience feel comfortable, and if possible, dominant. To achieve this, I recommend a handshake that feels like a vegetarian is giving you a water balloon. It is empowering to other people. It is also a good idea to get the people laughing right off the bat. This is best done with a joke concerning a popular topic like sex, religion or politics.

After a few zingy one-liners, I’m still met with silence mostly, but it’s that good kind of silence when you can tell that everyone wants to laugh, but doesn’t want to be the first to start the party. This is business, after all, and professionalism should be valued above all else.

I read through the Power Point slide-by-slide, making sure not to make too much eye contact with the audience so that they know I am serious about what I’m saying and not to be needlessly distracted. In the end, I can tell that I have gotten through and made an impact by the unexpectedly large number of questions people want to ask. To remain mysterious and keep an edge of unapproachability, I am sure to say “No further questions” before anyone has asked anything. That is a trick I learned from the Law & Order where Detective Stabler has to shoot a clown’s dad.

11 a.m.

I am asked out to lunch by a member of the crowd, but I prefer to just enjoy Hungry Man meals microwaved until the edges are gummy. My co-worker from Houston texts me, wondering why I’m not networking. “I’m off the grid”, I reply. Once again, a little mystery is the name of the game. Plus I made my return flight for one hour after the presentation was to end. I walk out the door like Denzel Washington in a movie where he sells drugs and tricks cops. Today was fruitful.

Will Tea find his way home? Will he order the Monte Christo at Bennigan’s just to appear worldly and exotic to impress a shapely waitress? Where did he park his car?! Find out the answers to these questions and more two weeks from now in the exciting and erotic conclusion!

— Tea Jones

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