You’re in a meeting. The meeting is crushing your soul, as most meetings do.
You’ve already scanned the agenda and marked the items that could have been handled through a simple email.
It’s most of them, of course. It always is.
One or two people slow the proceedings by making useless, inane comments in order to hear themselves speak or ingratiate themselves to the speaker.
Minutia takes over.
The despair that comes with time wasted and minutes forever lost fills you.
There is little you can do to recapture the joy of being alive. You have been forced to surrender your humanity. You have become a thing. A listening box for the mindless, incessant droning of another.
This is the moment when I raise my head and look to the speaker. I focus intently, waiting for the moment when our eyes meet. When they do, I lock on, trying with all my heart to convey a sense of absolute focus.
Not interest. Not curiosity. Not understanding.
Then I do not move. I keep my eyes fixed on the speaker with laser-like precision while simultaneously assuming a countenance of intense disinterest. I flatten my features, dull my gaze and freeze all movement. I wait for the moment when I feel compelled to smile, furrow my brow, or best of all, nod in agreement.
The moment will come. It always does.
Regardless of the stupidity of the speaker or the meaninglessness of the meeting, there will be a moment when the speaker expresses a thought or conveys an idea that will naturally engender a physical response.
An approving nod. A questioning tilt of the head. A widening of the eyes. A silent snicker of mutually-understood frustration.
When this happens, I do not move. I continue to stare at the speaker, dull and emotionless. As others around the room nod and smile and scribble notes that will be thrown away minutes after the meeting concludes, I am a statue in a sea of inexplicably genuine and understandably feigned interest.
Having stolen my time and crushed my soul, I give to the speaker the only thing I have left:
Motionless, emotionless, unwavering disdain.
As my daughter would say, it feels me better.