Today I attended a business workshop organised by the Bank. It’snot my thing really to attend workshops and I can say that after 18 years of business it’s probably the second one I’ve ever attended. I sort of got bullied into going by my very persuasive bank manager. She’s a congenial woman and won me over with her non judgmental ways when she first met me and my husband. On paper our portfolio probably looked good(not so much anymore) and I imagine she understandably expected to be meeting a more suitably attired couple than me and my husband who were dressed in shorts, t-shirts and jandals. Her shock was over in the blink of an eye and since then she has only ever treated us with respect which we return in kind. Well actually I guess my emails could be seen as slightly offensive but she tells me that she laughs out loud at them and seems to take them in the spirit they were intended. Jo’s been kind and helpful over the years, bless her, and consistently emailed me about attending their ‘biz’ workshops (see the way the shorten business to biz to make it look cool and fun?),which I feign interest in and then never sign up to. This time she caught me off guard and called me. She applied ever so slightly more pressure than usual and pointed out it was about cash flow and profitability. I tried to fend her off by telling her that I was actually pretty fucking good at managing cash flow but that I just actually needed cash in order to do that. She stuck to her guns and then delivered the final blow- there’d be wine and food for free. Sign me up I said, after all I was in no position to parry with Jo, she held all the cards. I made sure she understood I wasn’t going to turn up dressed like a generic business idiot and act all professional and inhuman- I’m not selling my soul for profit, I’m a human being!
I’m not really sure what to expect when I turn up to the golf club for the workshop. A lot of what I do expect is there. The staff from the bank- not just the normal staff, the upper echelon- their uniforms are clearly higher quality signifying their higher importance. Name badges and a list of attendees are neatly lined up on a table (complete with white tablecloth) by the entrance and I’m greeted by overly enthusiastic smiles of the staff. The standard set up of tables and chairs with glasses and a jug of water on each, and the nervous tension of a bunch of strangers accumulating in groups in the room. There’s coffee available to the side and eventually some sweet accompaniments. I’m fortunate to sit down next to a pleasant and friendly girl who’s fresh into business but not a ‘climb to the top at any cost’ unbearable type. The speaker starts making herself known by confidently approaching and making polite but purposed chit-chat. Is it our first time she wants to know, and if so why. I honestly tell her- it’s not really my thing. She fixes a confident and challenging gaze on me, slightly tilts her head to the side and asks “why is it not your thing”? Bitch! I know her game. She thinks I’m going to squirm and laugh, or look away and say something stupid like “oh I don’t know”. Well she’s messing with the wrong lady. I look straight back at her and take my time to respond, I want the pause to linger in my intent gaze. I confidently deliver my response “Workshops are just not my vibe”, which is the softer version of “eat shit bitch”. She nods, says “OK” and turns away- she knows immediately that it is now futile to try and win me over.
The presentation begins with an introduction by another of the banking hierarchy, an old guy resplendent in his high quality, well tailored shirt and trousers in the bank colours. The Bitch’s name is Shaz- short for Sharon. We’re told that she used to be a personal trainer and that she would be making us exercise today (groan- I hate that shit at conferences). Over to Shaz. Well Shaz comes to the crowd like a boxer to the ring. She’s talking the talk and garnering the attention of an enthusiastic crowd. She’s from the UK and not from a good part she tells us, she’s proud, like hers is an amazing rags to riches story. She does have the look of a polished ordinary stone, the aggressive very straight front teeth with short fangs either side, and the prominent sinewy muscles shown off so well in her quite tight uniform. Shaz clearly likes to wear her uniform tight, the buttons of her shirt are straining and her skirt hugs her personal trainer turned banker body which she concedes is now under exercised. On closer inspection one can see the tattoo, on her lower right calf muscle, showing through her stockings. She wears a statement ring on her left ring finger. It’s a thick band probably nearly a centimetre wide studded all over with what looks like diamonds. I’m picking they are diamonds because this bitch means business; she wants people to see she’s kicking ass. Still, she tries to pull off the ‘I’m cool and casual at the same time’ look by teaming her uniform with glossy purple flats and by wearing her blond hair in a casual bun. She tells the crowd she’s managed pubs and nightclubs in the rough part of the UK so don’t mess with her. I don’t doubt she’s tough and could be scary, but I’d rather she punched me in the face than use her powers for the soul less work she’s doing now.
Shaz starts talking about business profit and cash flow which is all pretty straight forward and boring. I have to admit she’s a good, clear speaker that can keep an audience focused. Occasionally she chucks bags of jellybeans into the crowd for clever questions and answers- she’s shit at throwing. I soften towards her when she talks about how creative people like her look at a spreadsheet for a bit and then go “nah, I’m bored I’ll check out Facebook and see what’s happening” , I can relate to that. Shaz keeps banging on about delivering a ten star experience. She brings it up every twenty minutes or so “are we all having a ten star experience?” She raises her arms as she says it and the vibe gets a bit like an Amway conference, I’m almost expecting some inspirational music to start-‘Simply the best’. At the end of her talk she gets us some forms to fill out, feedback on the workshop we’ve just attended. She reminds us that we’ve just experienced a ten star experience, I give her an eight.
Finally it’s time for the promised free drinks and food, and it’s well worth the wait. With my glass of Sav I wash down a beef with blue cheese sauce slider, a crumbed prawn, and deep fried Camembert. There was more food, almost as much as you could want and perhaps the best finger food I’ve ever had at an event such as this. I have a very enjoyable chat with Jo and the new business girl I met at my table. I take the bank pen and name tag home with me. Fuck Shaz, she tried to out bitch me but I met her bitch and raised her one. I’m up for another Bank workshop though; they’ve got the money to cater the best food around, even if I do have to listen to Shaz the bank bitch.