Is it wrong to admit that I can’t stand high fives? That I find fist pumps a bit aggressive and can never really make the correct noise when crowd cheering is called for? Should I be ashamed of the fact that I’m a non-conformer when it comes to activities such as group clapping in time? That I feel as though I should consider my answer when the lead singer/comedian/master of ceremonies asks how we’re all doing? That I prefer to not acknowledge people who shout out of passing car windows?
With all this in mind it might seem odd that I recently found myself at a business seminar with an ambiguous title. Within seconds the speaker had us high fiving the person next to us and exclaiming how excited we all were to be there. I neglected to make eye contact with the stranger and very nearly (accidentally) face palmed him into next week.
I wasn’t particularly excited. In fact I was more anxious that I was sitting in the middle of a row that I couldn’t readily escape from.
To me the presenter was becoming just a little needy when he asked us for the nineteenth time to raise our hands if this was making sense.
I was daydreaming about the biscuit selection at the break and whether there would be real coffee, when – snap! – the high fives went off again. I wondered what I had missed and why the bloke beside me was cowering with arms across his face in order to protect himself.
Apparently we were supposed to be having a conversation. I didn’t know his name or whether it was a real discussion or some form of role play. I tend to overact in role plays, so I had to tread carefully. I wasn’t sure what we were talking about and my mate wasn’t overly chatty. I checked my phone in the event that there was an urgent email that couldn’t wait until the break.
There was some more group participation stuff going on as I attempted to take a well considered photograph of the Powerpoint screen. I’d made copious notes I’d never read again, listed several blogs to subscribe to, articles to read and TED talks to watch, all of which would remain in my note book until the next seminar.
I couldn’t help thinking that if I was this desperate for a free biscuit and an instant coffee, no amount of seizing-the-day chat was going to save me. I raised my hand because this was finally all making sense. Mine was the only hand raised, but someone fist pumped me nonetheless.