I walk into the hotel ballroom for the first plenary session at the conference I'm attending and I sit down in one of those generic hotel conference chairs, except this time my back goes back farther than I'd expected. Is the chair supposed to recline or is it getting ready to collapse beneath me? Awkward moment.
A casual glance reveals a few others suffering that same moment of surprise, but the experience is far from universal. A few trick chairs thrown into the mix to liven things up, or an epidemic of broken chairs? Do I dare put my full weight on the chair back or will it collapse and drop me on the carpet? That would be unfortunate, because that carpet violently disagrees with my red blouse.
It's one of those hotel ballroom carpets, covered with patterns that verge on garish without ever leaving the land of hotel ballroom bland. "Have you ever seen a hotel more bland?" asked a total stranger in the elevator, and the answer is, "No, I've never seen a hotel more bland, but I've also never seen one less bland. This hotal defines the mean of hotel blandness."
The carpet could use a spot of creativity, a dash of the unexpected--like a professor sprawled out over the splintered remains of a broken chair. All I have to do to deliver this ballroom from being the epitome of blandness is to lean back firmly in my seat!
Frankly, I'd rather stand.