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Three Days in Chicago

Here I am. I'm sure you were beginning to wonder. I had to go to Chicago on business Thursday. A 6 a.m. flight, which means I had to get up at 3:30 in the morning!! So obviously I had a lot to do Wednesday at work and Wednesday night AND I had to get to bed early and I just didn't get the chance to tell you that I was leaving. Sorry about that. Especially to those of you struggling with your own abandonment issues already.

So yeah, I went to a two-day training seminar on "Breaking the Habits that are Holding You Back." See, every year I have in my performance review goals to attend some sort of training seminar. And for the past couple years I've kinda been blowing it off which, errr..., could be a habit that's holding me back. So anyway, I decided to try & make a seminar this year and figured, given my history with my boss, this would be one he'd like to see me attend. If I get something out of it as well, then bonus.

The class was actually pretty good and the instructor - an industrial psychologist - was excellent. The people in the class though...holy shit.

It started out okay. There were maybe 12 or 14 of us. I was a little surprised at the age of so many of them, as they were much older than I expected. I started out sitting at a table with three rather benign gentlemen. But then midway through the first day, the instructor makes us count off and change tables. She wants us to sit with a whole different crowd. And, wouldn't you know, I get stuck with all the freaks! Because there's really only three people in the class that are complete weirdos - people who were forced into this class because they went completely ballistic on their job one day - and my new table is me...and the three of them!

Next to me is Patty. She's an older woman - looks to be in her 60s maybe? She's got on big, gold Fendi glasses and, even though the dress was established as "business casual," she's wearing a VELOUR PANTSUIT. Patty is here because she got a new boss and in her first meeting with him she blew up and stormed out. Yea. Patty talks too loud and does all the exercises incorrectly.

Across from Patty is Gardener, which - last I checked - is a profession and not a name, unless maybe you're one of those rich snobs that calls your driver Driver and your nanny Nanny. This guy is the most stale white bread I've ever seen. Crustless even. He's wearing a very plain vanilla-colored sweater and I swear sometimes I can't tell where his skin ends and the sweater begins. He has no facial expressions. None. Ever. And probably not any facial hair either, that I can tell. And he has tiny little hands and skinny fingers.

When we joined our new tables, the instructor had us tell one "unique" thing about ourselves. All my freaks just kinda stared at each other, so I said, "I used to sing in a band." Gardener followed that with, "I used to be a punk rocker" which has everyone - even the instructor - amazed because he's so NOT a punk rocker. But I'm not shocked because I can just SEE what kind of "punk rocker" he was - a wannabe in hair dyed orange who considers himself a punker because he likes the Cure. Poser. He's here because there was an "incident" on a phone call that he "failed to diffuse." Whatev. Companies don't spend $1,500 on training seminars because of one lousy phone incident. I think Gardener's hiding something. Something BIG.

The third woman at the table had taken a big black marker, colored out her first name on her place tag, and wrote "JOE" (with an "e"). She's big and stern with no makeup and hair pulled back severely from her face. She works for the US Postal Service and she's here because someone filed an official complaint against her. She scares me. And she doesn't like me. When we had to do a table exercise and write our group's responses on a flip chart, she REFUSED to write down anything I said even though what I was saying was RIGHT and what they were saying was all bullshit and I was embarrassed when we presented our answers to the class that anyone would even THINK that I agreed with one single thing that was written there.

So that's what my class was like. I stayed in the hotel where the class was being held and it was nice - French - and the food there was good but expensive and I hope my boss doesn't nail me on my expense account when I get back. The weather was like 20 degrees in Chicago, so I frankly never left the property once I got there. When I left for the airport Saturday morning I realized on the way there that I had left My Kid's iPod charging in my room so I had to rush back to the hotel to get that. He didn't want me to take it in the first place - I had to talk him into it - and he never would have spoken to me again if I'd lost it. Luckily I had left for the airport in plenty of time to go back and get it and still make my plane.

So now I'm back and ready to break all my habits that have been holding me back. I guess.