Going over the key presentation points in my head, I stepped back from the urinal and attempted to zip up my pants. It was at that very moment that my evening suddenly went from bad to worse. The Stress-O-Meter, already elevated given the expectation of the evenings confrontational festivities, reached all new heights. While the portion of the zipper tab that I held moved freely, it no longer served the purpose for which it was intended, and refused to join both halves of the zipper together. Now, at the best of times, this is not a pleasant situation, yet there I was, an hour away from home, about to stand alone in front of 50 plus unfriendly people, with a broken zipper. I slowly looked up at myself in the mirror, and thought… “Oh no!”
I quickly made my way back to my car to see what quick repair options might be available to me. Frantically searching, I had no safety pins, thread, or anything overly useful. Sigh… of course I didn’t. I’ve never stared at a paperclip with such intensity, trying to figure out what assistance it could possibly provide. Even a stapler would have been a welcomed discovery, alas, I had nothing. With time ticking away, and options dwindling, all I could do was see if I could somehow get the zipper to latch on, so I refocused my efforts. Head down, hands working on my zipper, car shaking in frustration, and a single bead of sweat running down my forehead, my car windows began to fog up. Realizing what this scene may look like to an innocent passerby, and with only 3 minutes left to spare before I was expected to speak, I had no choice but to stop, and admit defeat. With a deep sigh, I thought about how badly I just wanted to go home.
Armed with nothing but my black leather notebook, I wiped my brow, stood up, and walked back into the meeting room. Trying to rebuild my confidence, I began scanning my surroundings, and quickly noticed there was no podium to stand behind. Sigh… of course there wasn’t.
So I slowly walked up to the presentation stage, all the while calculating the viewing angles of the audience, and stood in front of them trying to disguise how uncomfortable I truly was. Using the shielding provided by my black leather notebook, I maintained various standing positions throughout the duration of my presentation. One hand on the notebook in front of crotch, the other hand in pocket. One hand on the notebook in front of crotch, the other hand waving the laser pointer. Both hands on the notebook in front of crotch, body swaying awkwardly. Oh it was horrible. As I explained the intricacies of the proposed building designs, planning rationale, and how this medium density residential development would positively impact the surrounding neighbourhood, all I could think about was how badly I wanted to go home, and whether or not anyone noticed my “situation”. I maintained eye contact with the audience, and expected them to do the same.
Fortunately for me, though unfortunate in the grand scheme of things, the NIMBY-minded attendees of this meeting had already made up their minds that they did not like this proposal before I had even arrived, so maintaining eye contact was not a problem, as they attempted to shoot daggers at me with their seething glances. After an hour of responding to unjustified and misguided criticisms and questions, the meeting ended, and I quickly made my escape.
Back in my car and finally heading for home, I reflected on the evening’s events, replayed what was said in my mind, and rightly or wrongly reassured myself that it didn’t go as badly as it could have. Relieved, and enjoying the added ventilation resulting from having my pants wide open during the return drive, I decided to stop for a quick bite – drive-thru of course. As I sat in the darkened parking lot eating my burger, my cell phone rang. It was a co-worker.
“Hey Dave, are you still out in the Niagara area?” he asked. I reluctantly replied “Yes”, knowing exactly what he was about to ask me. “Oh great! Since you’re out there, can you stop in at that other Public Meeting out near the airport? Something’s come up and I’m not going to be able to make it.” Sigh… of course you can’t. He then proceeded to give me the address of the banquet hall, and rather than opening myself up to ridicule by admitting the particular challenges I was facing that evening, I said “Sure, I’ll go”.
So off I went, and again faced the public in my somewhat compromised state. Upon entering the banquet hall, I soon ran into a bunch of industry people I knew. Sigh… of course I did. So I shook hands, and exchanged pleasantries, all the while maintaining my left hand firmly on my trusty black leather notebook. Not long after, figuring I’d made my appearance, visited with the people I needed to visit with, and not wanting to press my luck any further, I exited the building. Finally, I was going home.
As it was fairly dark by the time I pulled into my driveway, and none of the neighbours were outdoors as far as I could tell, I didn’t worry too much about covering myself up as I walked from my car and into the house. Closing the door shut behind me, I yelled “I’m home!”, with Leia arriving shortly thereafter to greet me. “How was your day?” she asked. Without saying a word, I removed my jacket, stood in front of her, and looked down to my broken zipper. Her eyes followed mine, and then she burst out laughing. Not just a little chuckle, or even a hearty laugh. No, this was an all-out gut-busting, teary eyed, roll around on the ground laughter, solely at my expense. As I briefed her on the details of my evening, her laugher only grew, causing her to periodically gasp for air. I looked into her watery eyes and reddened face, I thought to myself, “Ahhh, it’s good to be home.”