I am abroad and about to go into a meeting with an executive to have important discussions about a project we both definitely know we’re kidding ourselves about.
An assistant meets me at reception and leads me to a very large, very bright meeting room.
It is spick and span and huge.
“Can I get you a coffee or some water?” she says, and as I shield my eyes from the sun, I opt for some water.
She leaves and I decide which of the 19 chairs in the room I should sit on. I must not choose one that is too prominent. That would mean I have ideas above my station. I must choose at least the second-best chair, thus demonstrating my absolute respect for the executive that is on her way, but still showing I respect myself enough not to just sit cross-legged on a beanbag on the floor.
But it’s so bright in here. So hot. The window has special UV protection, but the sun is fierce today.
So I go for the second-best chair, but as I do so I realise that it is facing away from the sun, and so is actually slightly better than the best chair, which has a phone facing it and is clearly the Boss Chair. I can’t have that Boss Chair. That would imply I am expecting calls and might at some point break off to speak with a better or taller executive.
Then I realise I could simply employ the large blind that reaches right the way across the vast window. That way, she could have the Boss Chair and not have to shield her eyes, I could have the second-best chair and not have her squinting at me.
But can I touch this blind? This isn’t my office. Touching this blind is just one short step away from rifling through the drawers or texting my mates from her BlackBerry. But putting the blind down would mean mutual comfort.
So I get up and look at it. It’s venetian. Perfect – I’ve got one of them at home. You just pull the string at the side slightly out, and…
Oh. One side shoots down very quickly and noisily.I look around me in case anyone’s heard, but I’m alone in here so it’s pointless.
Well, if I just pull the string out again, I’ll be able to…
Right. It’s just shot down even further.OK, this is fine, I just need to get the other side to follow suit, so I reangle the string, and…
Now that side has madly overshot the first one.
Let’s start again. I can do this.
I pull the string.
VVVVVVT. No! Only one side responds. It’s now gone up really high, leaving the second side right the way down. It’s like the window’s had a stroke.
I twist a plastic rod to see if that helps, but all it does is open the blind and light the room up again.
I assess the scene. It looks like there’s been a burglary in here and there’s only one suspect. I try to reset everything just to start again, but I go all hot because why didn’t I just wait? Why did I think it was my place to walk into someone’s office and just start messing about with their blinds?
I start to worry that they’re going to walk in and see me pulling madly at their window strings, and I go even hotter. I should leave it. But it’s so obvious I’ve been messing with it. What do I do?
What do I do? I suppose this is what they mean by blind panic.
Maybe I should sit on the best chair, because if they’re in the second-best chair they’ll be facing away from the sun. But that looks so arrogant!
“Hi!” says the executive, pushing the door open and immediately seeing what to all the world looks like a very broken blind with me stepping away from it. “My gosh, what happened in here?”
“Ha!” I say. “Yeah...”
“I am so sorry,” she jokes. “You must think we are so unprofessional...”
Hey – this is perfect! She thinks it was already like that!
“No no,” I say. “Don’t worry. They’re pretty tricky to operate. I’ve got one at home.”
I’m a genius. I’m not denying it was me, but I am implying I know how to use one. Therefore: not me. If I just move the conversation along, it will be like it never happened!
“I thought I’d take this seat,” I say, sitting down, “in case you get any important phone calls...”
“Good of you,” she says. “So how are you?”
And we’re off. And then the door opens. And it’s the assistant with my water.
She looks at the blind, then frowns.
“Kristen,” says the executive. “What happened to the blind?”
The assistant looks at me. I take my water and smile.
Perfection is overrated
I don’t know what Katherine O’Mara does for a living, but it has to be easier than being a road-namer. Those guys have got so much to do. Name this, name that – eventually, the pressure gets to you. Except in south London where they seem to think, “Oh, come on – that’ll do.”
Look. We all live in modern times. Obviously we do, because how weird would it be if we lived in ancient ones?
The point is, we must accept not all relationships work out. Which is why Joseph McCarthy was so pleased to see that there’s a company who not only seems to accept illicit meet-ups, but will even provide catering for them.