Working life


I just went to a seminar.

I like seminars. Seminars are good. For those of you who are still at university, or are otherwise not reputable hard-working citizens, here’s a quick description of how seminars happen.

First, some bright spark decides he can charge companies a few hundred bucks to get them to send their people to a glorified slide-show. For this he will hire at least one (1) Expert, and one (1) Prestigious Location, such as a five (5) star hotel.

(It used to be that the best hotel was three stars. Then it was four. Now it’s five. By midway through the next century, we may be at the ridiculous situation of not wanting to stay at a hotel with anything less than seventy stars. Why stars, anyway? Probably a throwback to the stars the teacher would put on good work. But my teacher used a rubber stamp elephant for this occasional occasion. Wouldn’t really work, would it? Imagine hotels trying to measure up against each other by giving their ratings in terms of number of elephants.)

Anyway, the delegates arrive for their seminar. At least, those who can find their way around the Hotel Labyrinth do. The others are sat waiting in the Lyndon Room instead of the Litten Room, or otherwise
roaming around in droves trying to find either their room or the way out.

But to those who make it, a bag or folder full of notes, and all the tea and coffee they can drink will be forthcoming (bummer if you don’t drink tea or coffee). As well as vital minutes of waiting around wondering why the hell they needed an hour to register everyone and Christ, what sort of time is this for a Monday morning and bloody hell I could have got another 45 minutes’ sleep. But at least you’re spared of going to work for another day.

You go into the theatre, and spot the control room guy halfway up the wall, watching from a booth. He looks like security, watching down on everyone. Wait. He gets on the radio. “Units 5 and 7 to the presentation area please. Third row from the back, man playing tic-tac-toe in his notes. Eject and eliminate.” But actually he works the lights.

When everything gets underway, you’ll finally spot the presenter/s: who are almost all internationally recognised experts in their fields, but absolutely unknown by anyone else.

There are good presenters, and bad presenters. There are presenters who make jokes, both good and bad, and those who don’t. There are presenters who talk interestingly, and others who drone on and on for hours. But none of that makes any difference in the snoozability stakes if the content is boring. If the content is boring, then the appearance of high-wire acrobatic man-eating lions won’t stop you falling asleep. (Which explains why they serve coffee.)

Thankfully, a lunchbreak will occur sooner or later. Generally around lunchtime. The less scummy seminars will have a catered lunch ready, the more-so will send you out into the CBD jungle looking to scavenge some food.

As the afternoon arrives, and wears on, people start to trickle out, obviously having come to the decision that it’s all getting too boring. But as each presentation finishes, the most dreaded part of all happens: Question time.

It drags on and on. And why? Because of the dorks who think this internationally obscure expert has come just to personally solve his/her problem. I usually feel like standing up and saying, “Excuse me?! Whatsisname has come all the way from fucking Greenland to talk about the future of gidgemythings, and you want to ask him about flange brackets?! Why don’t you take your flange brackets and shove them up your fucking arse? Fuck off!”

And then I get kicked out. And don’t have to listen to any more of it.

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.