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Monday, April 13, 2015

Wherein Pearl Enjoys a Good, All-Day Fright

These people look really put together.

I back out of the room, check the signage. 

It’s the right room.  I slowly re-enter and take a set at one end of a long table. 

Welcome, my friends, to eight hours of corporate learning, where an innocuously titled course on “Communications” reveals itself, in dizzying, slow-motion horror, to be the stuff of nightmares.

All that was missing was my entering naked and forgetting my locker combination on the Day of the Big Test.

I turn to the woman next to me.  “Why am I here?” I whisper.

She grins, and I like her immediately.  “Because someone loves you very, very much.”

And we burst into laughter.

It is close to the truth.  My boss, a lovely woman who now owes me an adult beverage the size of a day-long lesson in humility, had hoped only to enroll me in a course that would help me resist the urge to send e-mails with the salutation “Dear Inconsiderate Boob”.

In actuality, however, I have been thrust amongst people who speak for a living, the course being designed to teach them how to move across a stage effectively, how to gesture without appearing to have T-Rex arms, how to make eye contact without frightening the audience.

Now why don’t you come to the front of the room – hold on, we’ll be videotaping you several times to go over in your one-on-one coaching sessions – and give us a couple minutes on, oh, let’s see.  How about the rodeo?

One would think that I, personally-renowned writer loved by absolutely tens of people, would have quite the stage presence.  And you’d be right – as long as I am at a podium and reading. 

But this?  Suddenly, I cannot tell a story and walk.  I have forgotten how to blink, I am rocking on my heels, I am holding my arms out as if to play an invisible piano. 

The word “um” comes to my lips and stays.

The room is supportive and generous, the applause genuine.

I have wandered into a room holding a kazoo, and I have been taken in by the violin section.

And I am looking forward to the drink that is surely in my immediate future. 


Daisy said...

The rodeo?--ha! I would have said a lot of "ums" too. I'm sure you did just fine. :)

joeh said...

Thank you for plucking those horrible memories from behind a cabinet in my mind that I forgot I even had!

These people serve only one purpose, they allow the CEO to put a check mark by "Enhance employee effectiveness" on his Yearly corporate plans "To do list."

To this day I hide under the bed when I hear the words "Role Play."

Shelly said...

Check You Tube repeatedly to see if your videos end up there. By chance I found a video of myself there holding a machine gun and in police issued body armour and helmet that I had been asked to put on during a career day demonstration. You never know where you will end up, although it would be fun to see yours.

Anonymous said...

Definitely a BIG drink and a steak dinner might be a nice touch as well. I'd say she owes you big time. Now....let's hear that rodeo story.

Pearl said...

Even now, days and days later, recalling that session makes my hands sweat. :-) I learned a lot, but Holy Hannah, what an adrenaline rush...


Yamini MacLean said...

Hari OM
...you made my palms sweat... and I have done this stuff!!! All growth, Pearl...and kazoos are instruments too... YAM xx

ThreeOldKeys said...

I got sidetracked when you mentioned a recurring nightmare.

I think we must have crossed paths in dreams ... lost on the way to a big math test ... but I never even find my locker ... which hallway ... which stairway ... why can't I even remember being in a math class?

I remember those.

ThreeOldKeys said...

Maybe a violinist is just a kazooist with confidence.

vanilla said...

Oh, Pearl! I am so excited; now that you are a trained and polished public speaker I can scarce wait for your next appearance in our community. I'll be the one with bells on!

Vicus Scurra said...

Let me get this straight. You were paid to learn, for a whole day, how to talk and walk at the same time? I think I need a course in how to sit and type at the same time, because that beats the crap out of me. Tell me, was Gerald Ford mentioned?

jenny_o said...

Oh, the horror! Yes, your boss owes you big-time.

The very few times I've been in front of a crowd, I found the opposite to you, I could not stand still even though I wanted to, I felt like a wind-up toy. But the worst was the feeling that my face was frozen; I could barely move my lips. Ack ack ack!

Joanne Noragon said...

If your podium ever goes missing, you'll know what to do--in theory.

Elephant's Child said...

Several drinks.
Several big drinks.

fmcgmccllc said...

I need you on speed dial as the flavor of the month is my poor communication skills and lack of email talent. Wow, now I know a pro.

Catalyst said...

From someone who spent 30 years in radio and television but who freezes at a podium, I'll be happy to buy you SEVERAL adult beverages!

River said...

Our "enhance employee effectiveness" method was very different. Once a year we all had to go, individually, to the "training room" and watch a dumb video on how to properly process a customer's items and pack their bags. Same video every year. Then a few weeks later we had to view the work safety video.

Jo-Anne's Ramblings said...

Better you then me just saying