40 minutes over

Even before 11:30, I’m getting antsy.  I’ve been sitting imprisoned for an hour and a half, legs bouncing, hands restless, brain screaming.  Nothing to contribute, not much of personal relevance coming across the table to distract me.  Just listening to the others talk, and oh, do they love to talk.  The scheduled end comes and goes as everyone jockeys to get in the last word. “Well, I just have two points to make regarding what you just said.”  “Okay, I take your points and raise you three more!”  “Actually, I was thinking it would be more like this.”  “Oh, but what about this issue?”  More debate, more talking to hear themselves talk.  The temperature rises from all the hot air spewing out around spoken words.  Back and forth. Point, counterpoint.  I feel my skin tingling, my throat tightening.  I literally clamp my teeth shut to avoid screaming.  Several times I contemplate getting up and leaving, with nothing more than a mouthed “I have to go” to my boss.  Why not?  Would anyone really care?  Why was I even invited to this?  I have zero contributions to make.  I should be at my desk, doing arguably more important things.  [Of course, on a philosophical level, it’s quite difficult to determine what is of actual importance in this case.  On a personal level, were I to make a list, there would certainly be very little on it.  In fact, I really should be outside looking for warblers.]  For 40 more long minutes hope grows and dies over and over in the space of a few seconds as each person dispenses another useless nugget into the mix.  My stomach growls as the lunch hour approaches, then begins to pass.  Several of us gather our things to leave only to then replace them on the table with an air of resignation as we realize we were fooled yet again.  A guy on the phone speaks in a throaty warble…please clear your throat, please clear it, I don’t want to hear you struggle to talk through a clot of phlegm.  He finally tries to clear it, but the quaver rapidly returns.  Inside I kick and yell and curse with abandon. Outside I just look down at my notepad and outline the same words over and over and over until the black ink screams off the page. Finally, the end comes.  I can barely speak.  I am completely spent with nothing to show.  There’s another one scheduled in 50 minutes but I will blow it off.  There is only so much I can take.

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