Dining At The Seniors Table

Having come to the conclusion that my spring chicken days are quite some little time ago, I can approach senior’s events with a little more equanimity. One week I attended one that seemed to be organised partially as a sales meeting and partially as an entertainment. I hasten to add, I was part of the sales and not the entertainment, though I did my best.

I do not begrudge the governmental agency nor the private telecommunications firm the opportunity they took to use a seniors recreation organisation to bring in potential customers – they also disseminated very useful information for the old folks and didn’t beat them on the head to get money out of them.

The venue was also well-chosen. A central point served by  buses as well as having extensive free parking and a large, warm meeting hall. With freebies, welcoming coffee and cupcakes, and a free lunch, it was as hospitable as you could ever ask for.

My part – table attendant and salesman for the old camera shop where I used to be employed – was easy work to do and I welcomed a chance to run some of the old communications skills up again. I can be very sympathetic to older folk and tailor the conversation to suit their ( our…) needs. I think I’d be a good senior salesman still if it did not involve standing for 8 hours and trying to deal with impossible computer programs.

Did the old folks get something out of the day? I like to think so – I’m sure we gained new customers for the shop and training facility if it can be made comfortable for them to come and visit. And I think I had a very good idea for the  Photo Live 2018 trade day later in the year – based upon dealing with seniors as a senior. Hope my voice holds up.

The Conference At The Winery

Or the brewery. Or the restaurant. Or the resort/theme park/house of ill repute.

Or anywhere these days, really – the gathering of solemn delegates for professional development and networking. The serious exchange of considered views and the presentation of enlightening technical papers. The art and science of the drunken tax boondoggle.

I may be a little jealous about this – I am retired and no longer have someone to send me  to a pub in some other city at their expense. I’m considered a big boy now and have to buy my own. There is also the sobering realisation that I have nothing to say and no-one wants to hear it anyway. So the conference/seminar/junket/fact-finding mission/holiday/tax dodge/perk/swizzle/fraud door is largely closed to me.

On the other hand, I am not required to attend power breakfasts, staff meetings, team-building exercises, Powerpoint presentations, or hot wash-ups. I can regard the marketing consultant, art director, and HR manager with the same interest that I would give to a sea slug. I may have to buy my own beer but I can leave after I drink it, while others have to stay…

I first discovered the pleasure of opening the door and vanishing when I was a member of the Australian Dental Association. I attended a couple of their meetings in the West Perth headquarters and decided that they were appallingly boring. Then when an ADA dinner was advertised at a golf club, I went along – thinking that things would be looking up.

Looking up, all right – looking up the noses of the ADA executive at the head table as they praised themselves and advertised their professional successes. Long about dessert time they introduced a new Dean of the local Dental School as speaker. Most of us knew him from contact as undergraduates years before. Many were amazed that he should have risen to such an academic position. I was appalled to realise as he spoke that his personality had never changed.

It was such a pleasure to excuse myself, head for the washroom, and glide out the front door of the club.

Since then I have stood up and left any number of speakers in trade and social circumstances, and have never felt bad about it. I regard it as a much more civilised response to bad lecturing than my other impulse – to throw a half a brick at the podium.

Besides, how can you get half-bricks into the venue unseen?