Picture the scene: I am reviewing the agenda for a leadership program I’ve organized.
The topic of the day: Board Responsibilities and Legal Implications of Board Participation.
The morning line up: An attorney, a wealth management specialist, a bank president, and my boss.
We were two hours into the session and in the midst of a break. I scanned the schedule, recommitting the segments to memory. And then I saw it. Eight lines down, the 2:30pm slot. It was an insurance agent. My insurance agent. He’s great, a warm, affable guy with an easy way and an encyclopedia like knowledge of all things insurance related. He was perfect for the day. I realized as his name stared back at me that I had never called him, or actually I had, but we’d been working on setting up life insurance policies for Sean and myself and the anxiety of considering leaving the girls too soon always left my mind blank of anything but terror.
My boss walked over and said, “It’s going great.” I smiled, a rigid, toothy if-you-say-so kind of smile. I excused myself and dashed to my office. I think I might have been muttering something that would have had a passer-by believing I was of a very religious nature. Scanning the 30 emails I’d exchanged with my insurance agent in the last two months I confirmed that I had not, in fact, ever even broached the idea of him speaking at our class. I dialed his number and felt my legs buckle beneath me as the secretary asked if she could tell him who was calling. More whispered prayers and promises to never wing it again.
“Amanda, how are you? Don’t tell me you have a claim,” he laughed, a joke about a recent claim Sean made.
“Nope, no claims here. Great customer that I am.” Nervous tittering on my part and then, “So, how are you doing today?”
“Oh, can’t complain. We’ve got a person out sick, so there is covering for that, but what are you going to do?”
A person out sick? I was doomed. Shit. “What can I do for you, Amanda?” He asked lightly.
“Uh, well, I don’t suppose you have any time this afternoon?”
“This afternoon, let me see…(long pause)…electronic calenders do nothing for you if you can’t open them,” he said laughing.
I was not laughing. I was entering into a full blown sweat. “Ah, ok, here it is.”
“Maybe, umm, do you have a half an hour around 2:30?” I asked, expecting the worst.
“2:30? Let’s see. Sure, I can do that.”
Torn between wetting myself and vomiting I exclaimed, “Oh. Thank. God. Thank you, John” and proceeded to tell him what I’d done, or not done, as it were. After thanking him to such a degree that we were both embarrassed, we said goodbye and I hung up the phone. I sat shaking my head and chanting a series of thank you’s to the universe.
Later, when my boss asked if I’d like to introduce John, I laughed nervously and said, “Sure.”
Looking at him standing there in his signature slacks, dress shirt and hooded sweatshirt, knowing he’d walked the 12 blocks instead of driving like everyone else in town (everyone else who would have scoffed at the idea of agreeing to a last minute presentation) I felt I owed him something. I needed to acknowledge what had happened. I walked to the front of the room feeling stronger with each step about what I was about to do.
“Ok, our last speaker is John from the O’Brien Agency. He handles our home, car and life insurance and also takes care of Sean’s business insurance. He’s great.” The class clapped and John moved to stand. I looked at my boss and back at the class, “In the interest of full disclosure,” I began, to which everyone began laughing as if I were just making an insurance joke, my boss in particular, I continued, “Somehow, thanks to a pregnancy addled brain, after having suggesting John for this session, I never called to actually invite him.”
My boss was staring at me, a mixture of disgust and horror on his face.
“In fact it was just a couple of hours ago that John took my call and graciously agreed to come on short notice. I am forever indebted to him and with that, here is today’s closer.” John stood up, a huge grin on his face, and thanked me. I walked to my chair as my boss studiously ignored me. An embarrassment, that’s what I was to him. For my own part I felt as if I had done the best that I could given the circumstances, should I have kept my trap shut? Perhaps, but I didn’t, I followed my gut and based on the response of everyone but my boss, it seemed like I’d made the right move. Still, the look on his face haunts me.