venturing away from the food table

@ the faculty club in UCSD, where twice a quarter they host a guest speaker or panel to talk about interesting stuff:

I hid behind the food table instead of walking up to the speaker. That usually doesn’t happen, but this guy was one of those hot shots in the design community, and the people walking up to him were also hot shots in their fields.

Or at least that was the assumption I made. They were old and had white hair.

I wasn’t hungry, but the plate gave me a chance to hold something so I wouldn’t fidget, and the food gave me a distraction, so I wouldn’t have to focus on how I was chumping out and watching the world pass on by.

Up comes a man in a green collared shirt. About thirty years older, slightly balding. He was the only other guy eating the snacks on the table.

“Hey, go ask him a question.”

I tell him I didn’t know what to say, that he’s already got enough people kissing his ass and wanting something from him. I made all sorts of rationalizations, but really I was just scared and intimidated. Here are all these professionals lining up to speak to him. Who the hell am I? What would I be able to offer?

He tells me: “You know, he’s a human being, too. And he likes being recognized and knowing that his talk made a difference. Go talk to him and make a comment about something he said.”

He offered a handshake, then left for the parking lot. To this day I have no idea who he is.



Two slices of flatbread later, I lined up. I even wrote down a question in my notebook, for when I would forget in the ten meters separating the speaker, me, and every other person wanting to speak with the speaker in-between.

But I wouldn’t need to look at the notebook. A man in a suit ushered the speaker away.