My first encounter with the concept of all-day meetings was when I was a kid, and my dad couldn’t pick us up from school because he would “be in meetings all day.” Little did I know he meant this literally.
I recently got a new part-time job at a great place with nice people and great benefits. The pay is good, the office is nice, I have my own desk and all the plants a girl could want to decorate it with. Overall, things are great there. Last month, my boss mentioned a few meetings she needed me to go to, one right after the other, which would last anywhere from around 1pm to around 9pm. A small part of me died. All-day meetings were very real, and I was about to experience them. Fuck.
What I’ve learned from all-day meetings:
-Bring something to entertain your self with- It has to be something you can abandon immediately and often, something that will allow you to listen to what’s being said while you do it, basically something you can enjoy without looking like you’re not paying attention. Bringing a book is an instant fail (its mere presence implies anticipated boredom). Bringing a folded-up newspaper with the crossword on the outside is an instant fail. Cut that shit out of the newspaper and hide it with the rest of your crap.
-If you forget your entertainment, remember: Your brain is amazing- I’ve never been caught in a situation where I was so bored out of my mind that I prayed for sweet death to end my suffering, mostly because I’ve always found some way to entertain myself. This usually involves writing haikus about the people in the room, or about how boredom might be a silent killer. I have the ability to have fun wherever I am, usually in total silence. It’s the kind of ability sociopaths and schizophrenics have, and it’s invaluable at all-day meetings.
-Choose your seat carefully- Don’t sit in front of, or next to your boss. The ideal location for a boss to sit during one of these meetings is in front of you. That way they feel close enough to supervise you so they leave you alone, when really what’s happened is you’ve lulled them into a seat of false supervision that allows you to keep an eye on them so you know when to look alert. If they sit behind you, they’ll be watching every number you put down on that Sudoku puzzle you snuck in.
You also have to be careful which coworker you sit next to. Don’t sit next to Chatty Kathy; she’ll draw attention to you and make you seem like a slacker by association, even if you’re not engaging with her. Try to sit next to someone quiet but trustworthy; you don’t want to have to mow them down in the parking lot for ratting you out to the boss for drawing a unibrow on the founder’s face on that stupid brochure. You weren’t even paying attention when you did it, your hand acted on it’s own!
-Take notes- Your boss will ask you what you thought of Ms. Ladypants’ idea about Scooty-blah. It doesn’t matter what you think, but you have to demonstrate that you were paying attention. Every time a slide changes, or a new speaker stands up, pay attention for a minute and write down some tidbit of information. Better yet, raise your hand and say something pertinent. It’ll help you stay awake, remember the topic, and frankly it’ll make the whole meeting more interesting.
Having said that, here are my notes from the last bout of meetings:
-”The next person to touch my back is going to pull back a bloody stump.” (the direct result of being two decades younger than everyone else in the room is that everyone feels like my mom or dad, or hits on me. The result of all of this is someone laying a hand on my shoulder or back when they pass by me or stop to talk. It’s gross. I pull away.)
-”I always feel weird saying “Gesuntheit’ to Jewish people.” (my Jewish coworker sneezed during the meeting. I felt awkward, and showed her this note. She laughed)
I don’t find all-day meetings to be all that much of a chore, to be honest. All you do is sit there and listen to people chat about… stuff. I can think of worse things to be roped into [see picture].