I have been teaching a special three week term. Each class meets about 3 hours per day and I am teaching two. (I just finished yesterday.) At the beginning of the term I was asked to testify before Congress regarding my opinion about the future of insurance regulation. I was teaching intensively six hours a day and I was getting a little brain fried, so I said yes. That is when the trouble started.
I received the official invitation from the subcommittee at 5:00pm on Friday. I didn’t read the fine print until Sunday. I had to have 100 copies of my testimony to the subcommittee 48 hours prior to the hearing on Wednesday. That was not a big deal—it just meant I had to finish writing up my testimony by Sunday night and then I would overnight a package to DC. Well, thanks to the anthrax scare of late 2001 --
mail (of any kind) does not get to Congress quickly. In fact, they will not accept overnight packages. Monday I talked to the subcommittee counsel and she suggested that I use a friend or the university's Washington counsel to walk it over to the subcommittee offices. I laughed and said I wouldn’t tax a friend with this and that we didn’t have DC counsel. This brought a concise “Sure you do. All universities have local counsel.” I called our university attorney’s office and asked who our DC counsel is, and I got a big chuckle from him. I called back to DC and told them the bad news and the subcommittee graciously agreed to copy the document for me. (Remember, all the phone calling back and forth was taking out time from writing the testimony-plus I had to teach six hours that day. The stress was slowly, but surely building.)
About 4:00pm my pc died taking a great deal of unsaved work with it. The work was supposed to being saved every 20 minutes or so, but either because of user error (likely) or hardware problems I lost about four hours of work. It was a good four hours too. I never wrote so eloquently in my entire life. So after a little dance around my office with a few choice, and some relatively common, expletives, I got back to work. But after an hour I had to go teach again.
I got home from class about 10:30 and worked until 1:30 and wrote something that was semi-coherent, but not nearly as eloquent as my earlier missive. I got up about 6:30 and reread and edited the testimony, corrected a number of glaring typos and then sent it off to the e-mail address in the invitation letter about 7:30 am. About an hour later I looked to see if I received an acknowledgement and I noticed that I did not attached the danged testimony. Rats. So I sent a second e-mail with an attachment.
Here’s where the story gets better. I was late getting to school to teach the early class, so I parked with a valet parking service across the street from the College of business. As I got out of my car, my wife called me. I was carrying some books and a brief case so I had to put them down. As I did so I dropped my phone onto the driveway in the parking area. Before I could pick it up – it was run over by both the front and back tires of an SUV the size of a federation starship. I cringed as each wheel ran over the phone. I was getting a bit addled by the stress at this point. I bent over to pick up my phone and then my glasses fell off. I couldn’t find them after a couple of frantic minutes of searching. Luckily, no more cars came into the area and and I had to call over a parking attendant to help me find them which he promptly did. They skidded about 15 feet from where I was standing, but were otherwise unharmed. My phone, in the meantime, said “No Service.” i remember thinking, “No kidding.”
I turned off the poor phone and started to walk to my office building. I stopped and looked left and right. Then, to be extra prudent I looked up to make sure there was nothing falling from the sky. I crossed the street safely and I turned the phone back on. While looking like it got run over by the Enterprise, it worked perfectly. I softly said a “Thank you, Mr. Motorola!” and went on my way. I taught a good class and came back to my office where I had an e-mail message asking where my testimony was. I sent off another copy and said that I followed the subcommittees directions and had sent it to a the subcommittee e-mail address. I received a quick thanks and then I went to the Atlanta airport for the 4:00 flight to Regan-National. All the way to DC I was waiting for the next event. Luckily nothing happened and my nervous ticks were almost entirely in remission by the next morning.
Part II ‘The Testifying Experience” to come….