If you want to waste time, attend a press conference thrown by the U.S. government. It's a waste of U.S. tax dollars and you'll grab lessons on poor management skills.
An unruly lady greeted me at the U.S. Department of Justice building in San Francisco, where a press conference to announce a guy's conviction in an accounting scandal was being held. My plan was to gather a few sound bytes and get out after 5 minutes of government BS.
In a bid to undermine my identity, the lady asked for my driving license, library card, passport, anything to prove my ID wrong. After convincing her I was as advertised, she called someone and said, "a hack is here." (In PR parlance, a hack is a journalist). Great, another ego-boosted character working for the government.
"How many hours a day do you sit behind that desk," I asked her. She growled, and silently asked me to get out of her sight. Ah, those small victories of life. I'm glad she didn't respond with: "I'll put you on jury duty you rascal." I would've run 5 miles away from her.
Then I was in the press-con, officials milling around, arranging the room for the big announcement. One yuppie guy popped out of nowhere and shook my hand, asked if I was "a hack." Stunned, I stared at him for a second, giving that "look" of disgust, and asked him who the f*** he was. An investigator with the FBI, his business card said. And he doesn't know saying "a hack" was rude.
We spoke about the case, he revealed some amazing things, after which I asked "Can I quote you?" His gleaming smile turned into a growl. "No, please" said the young one. He asked for my business card, grabbed it and ran to the other side of the room, to the comfort of other government folks hanging out. I went back to my seat.
In the front, near the dais, a lady wearing the dunce cap was trying to fit the oversized DOJ flag into a room with a low ceiling. The flag wouldn't fit, but some wild reason, she kept trying. She tried the left side of the dais, then the right side, but the flag wouldn't t fit. Nor did the ceiling level change. It seemed like her life depended on the flag.
As the flag bearer continued to hold her ground, a gov't lady was trying to decorate the background, mulling whether to put up the photograph of the U.S. president. She put it up, pulled it, put it up, couldn't seem to make up her mind.
Behind me, a DOJ guy argued with a TV cameraman over the camera location. The most helpful lady was helping reporters plug microphones into the dais, where a lawyer would announce the conviction.
As reporters schmoozed and caught up. I walked into a crowd of three reporters I regularly bump into. "What's up with the flag lady," I asked my friends.
"In the Girl Scouts we're not taught to bear a flag like that," a colleague said.
"Maybe she had 99 bottles of Red Bull," another colleague said.
Finally, she pulled the flag and headed out the door, not before bumping someone in the head with the solid steel pole. Anyone in the flag's range immediately cleared.
We waited, waited, and the press conference started after 45 minutes. For 5 minutes, the DOJ raved about how cool they were, and "no comment" on most questions that mattered.
What a waste of time.