You may have noticed a rather long period of silence between installments two and three of this series. In fact, those of you who have followed my reports from conferences in the past may have noticed a dearth of such reporting in this current exercise.
Oh, things started out quite strongly – two quick reports on Monday.
Well, I've got a pretty good excuse this time. Let us just say that, on Tuesday morning what seemed to be a more-than-normal lethargy curable with copious caffeine (my solution to most mornings) turned out to be a rather nasty 24-hour bug that resulted in my attending (at most) fifteen minutes of a few sessions, not really being present during a conference call (that included an inability to answer questions with anything other than "Could you repeat that?", "Could you phrase that as a question?", or a semi-coherent buck-and-wing that I can only hope came close to being syntactically and contextually coherent), and being "one of those people" who shakes hands and talks to people and sits at a full table for lunch and otherwise is so kind as to expose unsuspecting souls to an unknown ailment.
I spent that night tossing and turning, the various drugs I had plundered from the local Walgreen's doing whatever magic they could. And all I could think was "I have to make a presentation at tomorrow morning's 8:30 General Session. I have to be better, or I have to be dead." I think I assumed the latter would at least give me some excuse.
I am happy to report that the night's fitful sleep, the drugs, and the fact that the bug seemed to run whatever course it had planned meant that the presentation seemed to go off with few glitches. (You'll have to talk to those in attendance to see if it worked or not; I experience such things from within my own mind and that often proves to be a dangerous place to experience anything.)
I am sharing this story for two reasons. The first is, as I mentioned, a long-winded explanation as to why I did not provide the types and number of reports I like to put together from attending these conferences. But the second is because I just wanted to share a misery that we have all experienced. I do not share this story to obtain sympathy; rather, I share to reinforce the camaraderie of we road warriors who have been sequestered in a hotel room wishing we would get well, be allowed to go home, or die.
We are not in a profession where sickness generally has a detrimental effect on our work. Let's face it, there is nothing we do that, if not completed, would mean the end of the world. Yet, as anyone who travels will tell you, there are times when we have to bite the bullet, ingest any drug that can be purchased over the counter, and forge ahead as if we still felt human.
Etched in my memory are events which include headaches and upset stomachs and colds and flus and other better-left-unnamed ailments. (Ask me sometime and I'll share the story of the time I was racked with a bad cold and still had to do an investigation in a small New Mexico town where, when I checked in, all I wanted to do was soak in a hot tub to get rid of the chills and found that the best the hotel could produce was lukewarm water and the next day the investigation was inconclusive [surprise!] and the agent later told someone that he couldn't believe he had survived it and, if he could survive that one, he could survive anything. Oops. Guess I did share it.)
So, this one is for my fellow road warriors. This is to the ones who know the work has to be completed no matter how they feel. This is to the ones who have learned to travel with a full supply of every cold, headache, flu, upset stomach, you-name-it remedy. This is to the ones who collapse into bed at five in the afternoon, never stir until awakened by an alarm at seven in the morning, and then somnambulate their way to the work site pretending all is well and good and the review is proceeding exactly as intended. And this is to the ones that know the only thing worse than being in the field and going to work while sick is sitting in a hotel room being sick.
I know we aren't unique on this one. But it is still a badge of honor many of us in internal audit can proudly wear – as long as that badge isn't contagious.
(And to the many people I spoke with on Tuesday, my apologies. I have no idea what I said, but there is a good chance it made little to no sense. And specifically to Tim Leech who I met for the first time – I have no idea what incomprehensible things I said, but I stick with my final comment that I look forward to talking to you when I can make more sense.)