Industry lunches are generally pleasant and padded enough to bring in the bacon munchers — but one does not expect a veritable comedy sketch and an impromptu evangelist “Hallelujah father! I am cleansed!” rejoice session.
The lunch in question this week was organised by Australian Computer Society and the Telecommunications Society of Australia. NBN Co chief executive officer Mike Quigley spoke to a vast audience of ICT industry executives and a smattering of journalists in the regular Charles Todd memorial oration.
Midway through the main course Quigley started his well-publicised main speech. And all went well until an announcement came over the loudspeaker.
The harsh voice reverberated around the room and informed that the building should be evacuated. “There has been an accident in the basement,” the voice of 1984’s Big Brother informed the crowd. “Those still in the building should evacuate immediately.”
The reaction from the room? Silence.
The look of disbelief and pouting on the faces of those sipping their wine was something like: “Do we really have leave this cosy nook we have going on? I just got comfortable and we were promised dessert.” Some just quaffed their wine faster just in case firemen stormed in and threw them over their shoulders.
Quigley looked coolly around the expansive conference room of darty eyed delegates with a look that channeled James Dean — “What are ya? Yella or something? Lets just see them try and chuck us out” and said coolly that he didn’t see anyone getting up and continued on with his speech. No one budged.
Quigley take on a fireman? I would pay to see that.
Neverless some VIPs were looking towards the exits and fidgeting like a herd of wild brumbies that had just found themselves trapped in a corral. Others just sighed happily and topped up their wine glasses.
After Quigley’s speech it was time for the invited dignitaries to have a moment to ask questions of the man of the hour — journalists would have their way with Quigley in a back room afterwards. Roving microphones were dispatched throughout the sea of white linen plateaus for the VIPs to have their time in the sun. The first one stood up grasping the mike and looked towards Quigley glowing under the lights.
“I am a believer!” he pronounced proudly — and he went on with his question.
Ok fair enough, right? Not soon after another had his turn to stand up amongst the masses — “I am, too!” — he offered up to the sparkling Quigley. He then too went on to ask his question.
OK, last time I checked Sydney wasn’t located in the bible belt of the United States. Then a third believer offered up his praise to Quigley and his NBN. That’s when I reached under the table for my tambourine. Hallelujah! I mean …
Image credit: Delimiter