Recently I was on a three-day business trip. About 20 salesmen and engineers from all over the country gathered at a manufacturer’s facility for a series of meetings and training seminars. Over the last 30 years I’ve been on so many of these trips I’ve lost count. (Which makes some of my coworkers wonder why, after so much training, my favorite comment in the office is, “Um, good question. I dunno.”)
I may not have learned all I should on these many trips, but I have learned that it’s very important for the host company to feed its visitors. Most of the companies I’ve visited do a great job, especially the firms located in the Midwest, where they feel obligated to show those of us who are “east coast city slickers” what REAL barbeque is supposed to taste like. A few years ago, I was scheduled for my annual physical exam right after returning home from a trip to Missouri. My doctor got concerned when test results showed that my blood was 73-percent barbeque sauce.
Anyway, on my recent trip, the host company put a delightful young lady in charge of feeding all the visitors. There were only two problems: 1) she weighs 90 pounds, and 2) she’s a vegan. Her definition of “feeding the visitors” and the visitors’ definition of “feeding the visitors” could not have been more different.
You know how sometimes when you’re at a hotel, and what they call breakfast turns out to be “continental breakfast,” that is, just a fancy way of saying “no breakfast”? I guess there are some people in the world who think a cup of coffee and a croissant the size of your thumb is an actual breakfast, but I definitely don’t think that’s true, nor do most of the guys I regularly run into in the HVAC engineering world.
On the first morning of the recent trip, we were told not to bother buying breakfast at the hotel restaurant because there would be food at the company offices. When we got to the offices and saw what was available, some of the guys said, “Gee, I wish I had a continental breakfast right about now.”
If you took the total amount of food present, and divided by 20 people, there definitely was enough sustenance per person to keep a 90-pound vegan alive — for a couple hours. But the 20 confused carnivores in the room averaged, I would estimate, at least 220 pounds each, and so it was a somewhat awkward situation. Most of us consoled ourselves by saying, “Well, when they bring out the snacks during our 10 a.m. break, that will kind of be our breakfast.”
Oops, we had a 10 a.m. break all right, but apparently 90-pound vegans are unfamiliar with the concept of “snacks.” I guess she didn’t want us to ruin our appetites, as it was only two more hours until we each got a slice of soy cheese and tomato. Mmm, mmm, good.
At the end of the three days, as is common, our hosts asked for feedback on how to make the training seminars better. An engineer from Oklahoma said, “I think the training would be better if you gave us some protein. I mean, man, late yesterday afternoon I thought I was gonna faint!”
The host, somewhat surprised by this off-topic comment, asked, “Well, what do you suggest?”
The guy from Oklahoma replied, “Just bring a cow in here and give us a couple of sharp knives. We’ll take care of the rest.”
I’m not saying that folks in the HVAC industry are pigs, but — ooh, pigs. That reminds me: some bacon would’ve been nice, too.