Take a bottle of Vodka. The toxic kind they sell in plastic bottles at Moscow street corners, made from industrial alcohol and tap water. Pour it into a large jug. Add a bag of sugar. Pour in a few cans of Red Bull. Add a dusting of cocaine for tasting. Consider the potency. Now substitute the word “potency” with “boredom”, and you’ll know how boring the meetings at my company are. The meetings at my company are so boring that I usually break them up with trips to the bathroom about every thirty minutes (the meetings are long). Once I’ve exhausted that option, I just sit there, eyes fixed on the presentation, doodling on my notepad. The presentations are usually about targets and projections and processes. In my head, I go on a journey.
Slide 1: “Implementation of new company processes”
Today it’s Nicaragua. I’ve never been there, but I like the sound of it. I sit at the back of the plane, in the middle of a row of four seats with little leg space, so I’m thigh on thigh with the passengers next to me: noisy Spanish-speaking families with toddlers, loud-mouthed American college students and dreadlocked hippie-jugglers. Monotonous humming in the cabin, children nagging, couples hissing, creaky announcements over the loudspeakers, Will Smith movies on an endless reel. Lukewarm cardboard food. The urge to brush my teeth. The exhaustion. The blotchy face in the toilet mirror. All this is exponentially more exciting than our company meetings. And all this is a good excuse for a drink. The vodka comes in small square plastic sachets and I ask the airhostess for two. I’m in a celebratory mood.
Slide 23: “Successful client canvassing”
We’re preparing to land. Oh the apprehension, the sudden rush of adrenalin, the tingling in the stomach: sun, heat, dusty country roads, cold beer, quesadillas, beaches, all just waiting a few hundred metres below. Feet shoved into shoes, face-check in hand mirror (you never know). I’m trapped in my unfavourable seat, because the other passengers are already wriggling through the aisles like maggots. I fake the indifferent, frequent traveller and even close my eyes for a bit, waiting ’til the last passengers have shuffled out before me. When I'm finally outside, the heat throws itself over me like a deliciously warm, damp blanket. The asphalt on the airfield is warm under my soles. I inhale the velvety, humid air and exhale in a long sigh of relief.
Slide 35: “Target projections”
Passport checked and stamped, now waiting at the carrousel for my backpack. My eyes are fixed on the hole in the wall that spits out suitcase after backpack after travel case after duffle bag. A loudspeaker croaks my name. Suddenly, a roaring noise tears through the hall, the battle cry of a prehistoric monster.
I open my eyes and I’m still on the plane. The oxygen masks are bobbing around in a frenzy, left and right, front and behind on their elastic bands above rows of empty seats. The plane is plunging at a mad speed and I have just enough air left in my lungs for one scream.
Slide 40: Thank you for listening.
All eyes are on me.
published 29 January 2014