Tonight is the annual meeting and dinner for the corporate board of the local bank. I am on the board. I feel like an enigma on the board; a round peg in a square hole, a wall flower at the ball. "One of these things is not like the others...." ah yes; that would be me. What the hell am I doing at a corporate bank meeting?
It really isn't a bad thing to go to. You're always greeted warmly and reminded that your name tag belongs on your right shoulder so that when another member shakes your hand, they can glance at your name tag and say hello pretending they actually remember who you are. There's a lot of hand shaking. There are comfortable seats and after the roll call that begins promptly at 5:00, bank executives get up with fancy charts, graphs, and power point presentations and update you on the state of the bank since last May when they did the same thing.
The meeting doesn't run too long...maybe an hour after which the real hand shaking begins over adult beverages and traditional mountains of fancy cheeses and crackers. From time to time a wandering server brings by a plate of shrimp, mini spinach quiches, tiny spring rolls, etc. to see if you'd like more "finger foods". These servers I've learned, are a blessing as they give you opportunity to get out of the boring small talk conversation you're in and move to another equally boring small talk conversation in another area of the room. I disdain small talk in a big way, which is why I've learned this trick about the servers. Normally I find myself abandoned after one has entered my circle of discussion.
After about 45 minutes of this schmoozey song and dance you're called back into the meeting room that has now been miraculously transformed into a dining room. There's the traditional jockeying for position....some wish to be close to the front, near the bar, at a table they hope will be served first, or near easy exit access...but everyone lands somewhere to start small talk anew. Dinner is always delicious and plentiful-and free as you're a board member.
Lastly there's the "entertainment" part of the evening where a guest speaker enthralls the group with some topic they are passionate about. If it's a good night, the presenter will be engaging, if not you can always watch for the squirming to start in the seats while keeping one eye on the clock.
As a final farewell on your way out the door you're given a gift courtesy of the bank....undoubtedly with their logo (and there's a new logo this year) on it somewhere. I've received picnic blankets, thermoses, colorful thermometers, and camp chairs. It's always something different.
I shouldn't complain about this meeting, but every year I dread it. It is not fun. I would rank it up there with having a cavity filled at the dentist. But it is my obligation. Now off to find suitable "business attire". Somehow I don't think jeans and a pink fleece top are going to cut it for tonight.