Roadkill (February 27, 2009)

Today was to be my professional day in the sun. I had long planned the first meeting I was to host all by myself, no co-workers, no boss to look over my shoulder. I was to welcome 30 highly respected dental professionals into the ADA Boardroom, a state of the art and imposing facility. I was to proctor the meeting, and even give a 45-minute presentation on our department procedures and program tools. I had spent weeks preparing and collating agenda materials, ordering a fine continental breakfast for the attendees. I was nervous but confident as I woke up with the alarm this morning and headed into work early.

Many of you may have figured out by now that I am a walking sitcom, complete with internal laugh track. So this rather mundane professional situation predictably unraveled into a”Bridget Jones” style farce rather quickly. Seriously, I should have seen it coming.

I reached downtown about 7:30, and went to catch the bus, the 125 Water Tower Express. As I exited the train station, I saw it pull up out of the corner of my eye and congratulated myself on my good timing. I was running to grab it, and the driver started to pull away without me as I was knocking on the door. The bastard (not sure if it was a he or she) never did stop – typical. I am not a quiet knocker. I was frustrated and in my rush, I did not notice the curb of the street. Naturally, in addition to the obvious humiliation of being ignored by a City bus driver in front of hundreds, I had to trip and fall on my hands and knees, hurtling myself into the middle of the road. And before any of you even ask, no, there was no alcohol involved. Again naturally, not one soul in this crowd of hundreds so much as asked I were alright. Now angry, hurt and mortified, I picked myself up and willed my body not to hobble back to the curb, but to return to the sidewalk with my head held high. Giggling gawkers be damned. I dragged myself into the nearest Bank of America ATM vestibule under the guise of withdrawing money, but really so I could injury check, look for my damage to my wardrobe, and let out an animal-like howl as I rubbed my already purple left knee. Gratefully, my shiny black pants were none the worse for wear, so I hopped another bus, popped a Motrin for my sore joints and decided to rise above.

But old Mr. Murphy, he of the famous Law, would not have it so. My ego was to continue its battering and downward descent. I arrived to setup the meeting, only to discover that the”fine continental breakfast” I had asked our admin. to order was nowhere to be found. As she wasn’t in the office yet (of course!), I had to run down the cafeteria and implore the kind staff there to put a rush on a quickie meal for 30. This they did with grace and without going out of their way to impose any additional shame upon me. Thank you Aramark! This was handled seamlessly before the appearance of my first guest, so I moved onto the next crisis – technical problems with my presentation.

The Chairman of the group called the meeting to order, and my part of the proceedings was to take place about an hour in. I discreetly called IT support and sat sweating bullets that I should not be called upon and have to confess my lack of preparedness to present. The wonderful Jay came into the boardroom, equally discreetly and fixed my problem within seconds. Yeah! Celebrating the aversion of another disaster, I headed down the hall to relieve my tea filled bladder, only to encounter one of my meeting attendees just as he was flushing a urinal and zipping up his fly. All too late, I realized I had entered the men’s room. Kill me.

Somehow rather than castigating my incompetence, the dentists thanked me for one of the liveliest meetings they had ever attended. I’ll bet. A small group of them even took me to lunch. I guess old men enjoy the Lucille Ball in me. Fortunately, I am so accustomed to humilating myself, I didn’t feel the shame I probably should have. Lesson learned: whenever I get too high on my professional horse and feel invincible, I am reminded that I am just a girl who can be leveled by a bus (literally and metaphorically) at any moment.

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