By Casey Jones, CAPP
I’m 15 minutes early for the presentation. I’ve spoken many times before but I always like to show up a little early to shake out any bugs and focus. I notice that the layout of the room is a little weird and I’m right up against the screen but I can deal with it. I start going through my slides and they don’t look very familiar. As I get deeper into the deck, I see slides I don’t recognize at all and there are very detailed and complicated charts with way too much text on each.
My pulse rises as the room fills. I see an entire section of the presentation that should not be included at all and I begin deleting slides as fast as I can. I look to the audience and the room is full, hot, and uncomfortable. Familiar, friendly faces are missing in the crowd and those present are edgy and impatient for me to start. It’s clear this is a hostile crowd, not at all excited about what I’ll be presenting.
I look at the screen trying to get back to the start of the presentation but the clicker has acquired a mind of its own and is flying through the slides like an old-time movie projector where the film is about to break and melt. I give up on trying to find the starting slide and turn back to the audience in hopes of regaining some composure. Uttering the words, “People are willing to pay for parking as long as it’s convenient,” only seems to stoke the tension and the crowd seems to advance towards me. In desperation I look for the exit only to realize that I’m not inside at all but outside between crowded and busy streets. With no way to escape, panic takes a death grip on me until mercifully, I regain consciousness, realizing that this has only been a bad dream.
As my heart rate begins to settle back to normal, I promise myself to be better prepared for my next presentation because strange things can always happen and very likely will.
Casey Jones, CAPP, is senior parking and mobility planner with DESMAN.