I had a particularly odd day back in July of 2010. I was at a presentation for a pretty high-profile project. The team had been working very hard, and we were quite happy with the result. The creative director was on vacation, and my art director had to beg off for another meeting. It was a busy time. I was on the 14th floor of what I can only describe as the newest building I’d ever been in, all white and curvy and clean. It was like being on the set of Solaris.
And a funny thing happened. We’d just listened to an extensive and detailed media presentation. The client was very senior, and a no-nonsense type. The set-up for the creative presentation was about to begin.
Then the fire alarm went off.
We’d been warned before we started that there might be a drill. We packed up our stuff, about a dozen of us in all, and spent 20 minutes or so leaving the building (I hope they’ve improved that time since), down 14 flights of stairs and out into the courtyard. It was a beautiful day. Sunny and hot, but not unbearable.
The senior client had doffed the jacket of her pinstripe business suit. I felt like it was raining in my shirt. I asked everyone to gather around, like a busker during tourist season. And then I presented our concepts, in the shade of a maple tree, colour printouts fluttering in the summer breeze.
You know how sometimes when you’re presenting you feel a bit like you’re outside of yourself? You’ve rehearsed, you’re confident, you know your material, you’re ready for any questions. And then when it’s happening, you just kind of… watch yourself do it. And as I watched myself presenting, I thought, “This reminds me of something, like a movie.”
But it wasn’t a movie I was remembering, it was the final episode of the original BBC TV production of Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy. I’d just been in this space ship. And suddenly I was down on planet earth, hanging out with the marketing folks, and the sun was shining, and it was all very surreal, and pleasant, and melancholy.
Melancholy because it felt very much like the end of something. I knew at that moment that years from now, when I thought back to the time when this part of my life drew to a close, this is what I would see in my mind.
We went back upstairs. There was some discussion. The meeting ended, and I took the long way back to the office, by myself. I gave some German tourists directions to the Eaton’s Centre and wished them a pleasant stay. I snapped the foam core presentation board over my knee and jammed it in a garbage can on the street.
I don’t know what else to say. I will miss many of you. I’m not so hard to track down if you’re looking, and I’m pretty much always up for a drink.
Be well, and do good,