Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Ticking Away The Moments That Makes Up a Dull Day

I previously posted the lyrics to the Pink Floyd song Time. There was a reason for this.

For the last three days I have been sequestered in a Courtyard Marriott conference room enduring sales training. It consisted of ten hours a day of Power Point, fighting sleep, role playing and arguing over the arbitrary, semantic differences between the implicit needs and the explicit needs of the customer. It was seriously nauseating.

Now I have spent a fair amount of my life in similar circumstances. Between working a number of boring offices jobs, security jobs, several cross country road trips, every single day of high school and most Sunday school lessons, I would say a decent percentage of my existence has been spent actively trying to kill time. It’s all about letting your thoughts wander into their own world while maintaining the appearance of attentive listening. I’ve gotten pretty good at it. If I am ever incarcerated, I feel pretty well prepared to sit in a room by myself for ten to twelve years.

One important technique is to train yourself to not look at a clock. And when you do, guess what the time is before checking it. Always guess low. That way, when you tell yourself, “I bet it’s 2:34” and it turns out to be 3:06, you fool your brain into thinking that time is flying right by. Of course if you think you guessed low at 2:34 and it turns out to be 12:57, you just might burst into tears.

A vital aspect of this process is to maintain an attentive fa├žade. My boss was in these trainings with us, so I couldn’t very well put my head down on the table and sleep. I like to try to remember song lyrics and write them down one or two lines at a time. This way it looks like I’m taking copious notes. But I do it in segments. If I just sat and frantically wrote for twenty minutes, it would be clear that I’m not listening. I might as well doodle fighter jets shooting a giant monster. Instead I write one or two lines and then look up, making eye contact with the presenter keeping my pen on my paper. While I feign interest in what they are saying, I am really just jogging my memory for how the fourth verse of “We Didn’t Start the Fire” starts. Before I go back to my “notes” I like to throw in a subtle nod, as if something the speaker said resonated and I am recording my epiphany. I then scribble out, “Pope Paul, Malcolm X, British Politician sex J.F.K. BLOWN AWAY, WHAT ELSE DO I HAVE TO SAY?” They are none the wiser.

Another game is to try to list specific things that begin with each letter of the alphabet. This is more difficult than it seems, especially with no source material. Below are two lists I made up on Monday. The first are albums that I love. The second is the same, but for movies.

I did pretty well. I only had to cheat twice. The Xanadu Soundtrack is not really on par with the rest of the albums listed. I know. Blasphemy. And I’m also pretty sure that I have never seen a movie that starts with the letter “Q”. Quantum of Solace, The Queen, Quills, I haven’t seen any of them. And since this was a list of movies I love, they are disqualified. So I put Quantum Leap. Not the TV show, but the independently produced film I am currently making starring myself as Dr Sam Beckett. I am in talks with Tommy Lee Jones to play the part of Al, but things have stalled. Tommy wasn’t impressed with my script. But screw him. It's gonna be amazing. Scott Bakula will be proud.

Albums I Love:

Abbey Road – The Beatles

Blonde on Blonde – Bob Dylan

Californication – The Red Hot Chili Peppers

Diamond Dogs – David Bowie

Elephant – The White Stripes

Fresh Cream – Cream

GNR Lies – Guns N Roses

Hello Starling – Josh Ritter

In Through the Out Door – Led Zeppelin

Joshua Tree – U2

Kill Em All - Metallica

Lola vs. the Powerman And The Money-Go-Round Part 1 – The Kinks

Melon Collie and the Infinite Sadness – Smashing Pumpkins

Nevermind - Nirvana

Odelay - Beck

Pet Sounds – The Beach Boys

Queen - Queen

Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust, The – David Bowie

Straight Outta Compton - NWA

This Year’s Model – Elvis Costello

Ummagumma – Pink Floyd

VU – The Velvet Underground

Wall, The – Pink Floyd

Xanadu Soundtrack – Olivia Newton John

Yellow Submarine – The Beatles

Zwan - Zwan

Movies I Love:

Apocalypse Now


Cool Hand Luke

Darjeeling Limited, The

Empire Strikes Back, The


Godfather, The

Hudsucker Proxy, The

I’m Not There


Kids Are Alright, The

Lost Highway


No Country For Old Men

O Brother Where Art There

Punch Drunk Love

Quantum Leap (It's gonna blow your mind!)


Shining, The

Thin Red Line, The

Usual Suspects, The

Velvet Goldmine

Waiting for Guffman

X Men 2

Y Tu Mama Tambien



pete said...

such a good call...I will have to try this the next time i find myself in that situation. In fact, you should start your own seminar about how to look like you are paying attention in a seminar. So if your students look interested, are they actually interested, or are they just excellent students...

BusterBluth52 said...

Pete, you just blew my mind.

Informant said...

Whoa, Brian. Is there a Nobel Prize for excellence in killing time? If so, congratulations, laureate.

cool_guy said...

Xanadu!!!! ---- WTF???

I was hangin pretty good til then....

BusterBluth52 said...

Cool Guy,

Is there another album that starts with X? I got nothing.

Earth Sign Mama said...

Come on CoolGuy...fess up. Remember your massive crush for Olivia?? Just put on your sound blocking earphones and look at the album cover.

Gregg Hale said...

Brian, I don't use the word 'hero' lightly, but you are the greatest hero in American history.

Blogger said...

FreedomPop is the #1 100% FREE mobile phone provider.

With voice, SMS & data plans priced at £0.00/month (ABSOLUTELY FREE).