Saturday, December 15, 2007

On Cloud New York

You know a corporate annual meeting is getting long when the senior marketing manager starts poking one of the sales directors in the back with a banana, your boss is surfing the Internet on an iPhone, and every time you turn around, one of the other executive assistants is struggling to keep her eyes open and mostly ends up looking cross-eyed.

And you know I got home and passed out early after too much wine at the company holiday party when I'm up blogging at 5am on a Saturday. According to my call history, I had a fairly lengthy conversation with Terrence when I got home around 10:30pm, but I don't remember how the phone call ended. I am legendary in North Carolina for falling asleep at a moment's notice ... and anywhere - with or without alcohol (the Waffle House in Cullowhee at 4am is just one example). Even narcoleptic, if you will.

But yesterday was a good day, and I woke up today at 4:30am to all of the lights ablaze in my apartment (which is like three light bulbs total) and still wearing the clothes I had worn to our annual meeting and company holiday party the day before. After changing into pajamas, washing off my makeup and turning off two of the light bulbs, I flipped open my laptop and decided to blog about why yesterday was so good. Please forgive me in advance for all the run-on sentences to follow.

Various prizes were raffled off throughout the company's annual meeting just prior to the holiday party that commenced immediately thereafter, where our colleagues would sample signature dishes served by famous New York chefs handpicked by our company's founder/former CEO. Not to mention the open bar that would bear many a witness to hilariously inappropriate behavior. Some of the best prizes included a five-course tasting menu and wine pairing at one of New York's top restaurants, horseback riding and dinner at the home of our company's founder, a one-week stay in a Florida condo, a 70% off shopping spree to Dolce & Gabbana, a consultation with the makeup artist of our company's founder, and a one-week stay in a two-bedroom apartment in Paris (located just a few blocks from the Eiffel Tower).

So I won none of the prizes.

That was no surprise because I never win raffles, but something better happened. A few months ago, I had entered a company-wide contest for a new business idea. I had prepared a brief proposal and presented it to the President of Media in November. At the end of the annual meeting, it was announced that I was one of eight finalists selected out of more than 40 new business proposals submitted to various divisions of the company. I will be presenting my idea to our founder/former CEO and our current CEO in January! The winner(s) will receive their choice of $1000 in cash or $1200 in company stock, plus the chance to help develop their project, which will receive funding and be incorporated into the future of the business.

When my name was called and the description of my new business idea was read, I tried to stand only briefly, but my boss forced me back up and held my arm as a warning to continue standing. I am immensely shy when attention is focused on me in large rooms, and I sort of zoned out as I tried not to smile too awkwardly and was unsure of where I should avert my gaze. Do I look around the room at the 900-odd faces looking up at me, do I stare straight ahead, do I wave? All of those questions were clogging my mind. I couldn't hear anything that was being announced about me or my idea, and when the applause began, I sunk back into my seat, relieved. It was not until later when I learned that as the CEO finished reading the description, our founder had commented: "Oh, we can totally do that."

I made a mental note to seek out the President of Media during the holiday party to thank her for selecting my idea as a finalist. Unfortunately for the articulate, brief and gracious thank-you speech I had prepared in my head during my first glass of wine, she found me on what may have been my fourth. Just as I was opting to instead send her a thank-you note on Monday, she approached me and grabbed my arm, "So what do you think? How do you feel?"

In my exhilaration that (1) I was a finalist, (2) I was tipsy, and (3) the President of Media (who is a very big deal in our industry and was recently a high-level executive in one of the world's biggest Internet companies) had actually approached me at the holiday party, I began to babble thank yous and I think I even hugged her.

I don't mean to sound like a total groupie, but generally people are trying to find reasons to approach her - not to mention the entourage of colleagues often at her heels. And there I was in a huge room filled with all of the head honchos in our company, and she had come to congratulate me. I know it speaks more to how down-to-earth and involved she is, but I couldn't help but feel .. err ... special. As I continued to gawkily thank her and inelegantly tell her how excited I was to be a finalist, she pulled my arm a little firmer, leaned in close and said, "No, it's more than that. I want to do your idea."

I stood there staring at her, my mouth agape. She stared back and nodded, "Yea."

My mouth continued to hang open. She smiled and nodded a second time, "Yea."

I think I may have said thank you for the upteenth time, but that might have just been in my head. I may have just continued to stand there and stare at her. Still smiling as she began to move on, she squeezed my arm: "Enjoy your evening."

I watched her walk away.

I spent the rest of the evening reeling with excitement and silently eulogizing the day I decided to move to New York City. Then, I took a cab home while incoherently blathering the night's summary to my parents and endured a brief lecture from my mother on why I shouldn't drink so much. Once in my tiny studio apartment in Harlem, I passed out on top of my bedsheets, under the heat of three light bulbs, wearing a black sweater dress, matching opaque tights and stilettos.

Cloud Nine? Not really. It was more like Cloud New York.

1 comment:

Dina said...

you are tooooo funny!!!! Kudos for the great idea....hope to hear alll about sometime!