337. Don’t Be That Guy

WARNING: RANT POST AHEAD

I woke up early today, had a proper breakfast, contemplated not going to class, but ended up going to class anyway.

Today was presentation day, and also the last class of the semester. The presentation was an idea by the lecturer to help us gather some extra credit marks. I, who have had enough presentations to last me a lifetime, declined to have any part in it. And since I didn’t have any part in the presentations, I wasn’t feeling a burning desire to be in class, listening to the others speak.

The problem with college presentations (they’re the only ones I’ve ever been to; I’m not sure if corporate presentations are equally full of shit) is that they’re mostly full of shit. Despite the compulsory Year 1 course called “Public Speaking” (in my time, taught by, ironically, perhaps the worst lecturer I’ve ever had the misfortune of enduring), everyone seems to get it all wrong: they put a barrier between them and the audience; they shy from eye contact; they read from their slides; and, in one case I observed today, they completely ignore the dress code.

I’m not an expert in public speaking, and I’m not equipped to dispense sagely advice on the subject. But let me just say that you don’t have to be a chef to know that a dish is crap.

So. Presentation day. I dragged myself into the classroom with a flask full of Earl Grey Tea, a Haruka Murakami novel, and a whole stack of foolscap paper – prepared for the worst.

(incidentally, my last day of class coincided with the last sachet of Earl Grey Tea being used up. I’m sure there’s something terribly important on a symbolic level in this, but I can’t figure out what)

As it turns out, the presentations weren’t all that bad. Well, yes, the presenters still but a barrier between themselves and the audience, they still shied from eye contact, and they were reading from the slides – but at least they made an effort to obey the dress code.

Sometime during the third presentation, a case study on the Enron Corporation scandal, this guy (whom I shall refer to as POS from now on) interrupted the presenters during the Q&A, as they were responding to the lecturer’s questions. As they were still mid-sentence, he turned and said to the lecturer, “Sir, their information is incorrect.”

Wow.

And then he goes on to show off his impressive knowledge of the Enron case by dishing out the correct information, topping it all off with “I watched a documentary on it 10 times.”

I’m a big fan of correctness. Really. I’m the kind of person who would pause mid-sentence to google something that I’m not too sure about. But for the love of all things good, did he have to be such an ass about it? And it’s not like he’s been saintly either – through the semester I’ve come to know him as “guy who answers phone calls mid-lecture” and “guy who’s not paying attention but is pretending to be”.

(basically, like me. But only for that second bit)

Then finally, at the end of class, POS and his cohorts goes up to do a presentation on mergers and acquisitions. His group mates are “guy who comes late to class and is completely clueless” and “guy who wears a jersey, shorts, and slippers to do a presentation”. I tuned out before the first slide was done.

Because it’s not about the presentation. It’s about sending a message.

So in front of him, I took out Norweigian Wood and began reading Chapter 2 while he presented.

(while all the other groups wrapped up their presentations in the mandatory 15 minutes set by the lecturer; POS’s group went on for a whooping half-hour. Sometimes, it’s not the presentations that are full of shit. Sometimes, it’s the presenter)

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