A few years ago I was asked by a large company if I would give a presentation to a group of employees. These people had just started with the company and this was part of their induction course. Much of their time in the job would be spent working with clients using an appointment system and my presentation was to be on time management. I happily agreed to this (they were paying me) and I set about preparing for the day.
Now, the induction course was in the centre of Glasgow and I was living in the Scottish Borders at the time and, in hindsight (a wonderful thing), I should have travelled up to Glasgow the night before and stayed in a hotel. That way I would have arrived at the training centre bright and early and in plenty of time to set up my presentation. Can you see where this is going yet? Instead I decided that, as the course didn’t start until 9.30am, I would catch the 7.30am train, arrive in Glasgow around 8.30am, wander up to the centre which was about a 15 minute walk from the station and be sitting there with my presentation all set up and in calm serenity when the delegates started to arrive.
I missed the 7.30am train.
On a normal day that would have been fine. The 8.00am train would still get me there on time however, at the barrier into the station car park, the car in front of mine decided to break down. It’s a busy place at that time in the morning and when I looked in my rear-view mirror there were about ten cars lined up behind me. I was trapped. There were huge queues at all the other barriers and nowhere for anyone to go. Eventually, amidst much honking of horns, shouting and a few profanities, not from me I might add, the railway police arrived, sorted out the mess and we all headed through barriers and into the car park. I managed to find a solitary space about as far from the station as it possibly could be. I grabbed my coat, laptop bag, briefcase, handbag and huge heavy flipchart pad and ran for it.
I flew through the car park, up two flights of stairs, along the connecting bridge, down the two flights of stairs at the other side, pushed my way through all the milling travellers and reached Platform 10…just in time to see the 8.00am train pulling away.
Believe me it was not a pretty sight! Me, standing there alone on the platform looking like a trouser suited pack horse in five inch heels, sweating profusely, barely able to catch a breath but still managing to scream ‘Nooooooo’ at a now empty rail track. As I turned round I could see people laughing, giggling, tutting and shaking their heads and so I picked up my stuff, which had by this time dropped onto the platform, stuck my chin in the air, marched past them all and did the only thing any decent, self-respecting person could do in such circumstances. No, I didn’t phone the company – I headed to Starbucks for a Choca Mocha and a banana nut muffin (440 calories for the muffin alone apparently).
Anyway, you may be wondering what the point of this story is and here it comes. Take note of this because one day you may find yourself in similar circumstances. I GOT AWAY WITH IT!
I caught the 8.30am train and hatched a plan. When I reached Glasgow Queen St I didn’t start running through the streets in panic. I calmly walked to the centre, found out where the training room was, walked in and smiled at the delegates but said nothing and set up my presentation. I was just over ten minutes late and they had been sitting there for at least twenty minutes. They looked somewhat annoyed. Once everything was set up I calmly turned to them smiling and said
“Good Morning and welcome to my presentation on Time Management. I apologise for being late this morning but it was deliberate.’ They were clearly still annoyed but they all looked at each other in obvious confusion. ‘I wanted you to know, as clients, how annoying and frustrating it feels to be kept waiting and how disrespectful it is not to offer an apology when you do finally arrive.’
It worked! I got away with it! They all relaxed and started laughing and applauding me and I still got paid! Phew!!
Until the next time,