Danny’s Revenge

By George Braine

After I accepted the invitation for a plenary talk at an ELT conference, the organizers asked me to send my PowerPoint slides to them in advance. I did, but took the precaution of carrying the presentations on a USB device.

Almost the first person I saw at the conference was a friend, who was in despair. She had trustingly sent her presentation and not carried it with her. When she arrived for her presentation, her PowerPoint slides were not available. The only AV devise she had was a white board. I thought I would be better off and had no clue to the fate that awaited me.

I had two tasks at the conference, a seminar and a plenary. When I arrived for the seminar, I found a room filled with more than one hundred people. Although a laptop computer was available, the projector for the presentation was not. A local friend (I’ll call her Aiden) made a few phone calls but no projector was forthcoming. Perhaps used to such glitches, Aiden had brought her own portable projector to be used at her presentation later that afternoon. So, while a member of the audience in the front row balanced the projector on his lap, I managed to conduct the seminar. Because the projector was close to the white board, the PP screen was small. But I had given out a detailed handout, and that saved the day.

I was furious. After the seminar, I made a beeline to the conference organizer (I’ll call him Danny) and berated him for his poor arrangement. He replied that I should be “like Aristotle”, able to present from memory without any PPs! In berating Danny in the presence of others, I had broken a cardinal principle of local etiquette: never make others lose face.

My plenary talk was the next day, in a large auditorium. I was to be introduced by the President of the country’s largest ELT organization. The auditorium was full. But, the laptop at the dais would not connect to the projector. Once again, Aiden came to my help, calling various people responsible for these matters. The technicians finally arrived, and demanded a cash payment from me for the use of the projector! Aiden made more calls, and the technicians finally did their job.

During all these negotiations, the President of the association, who was there to introduce me, stood by calmly, as if these matters did not concern him. The delay was about 20 minutes, and by the time I started my plenary, about half the audience had left the auditorium.