It came to me in a moment of inspiration. The problem with updating this blog is it’s so time-consuming to write my posts; how could I resolve this? Easy. Get someone else to write them. Hmmm, but then I’d need to tell them the story, then read it and check it so I wouldn’t really save time. So I came up with an ingenious solution, get other people to write it, based on their own experience. Like a McCannecdote without McCann. An Anecdote™ if you will. But there was a problem. My writers felt, completely unreasonably, that they should receive a writing credit; and in some cases, they wrote of buffoonery of an extent which frankly I wasn’t comfortable putting my name to. Thus was born the Guest McCannecdote, other people’s stories, told in their own words, and with their own name attached. This first case, however, features such buffoonery even the guest writer didn’t want to use his own name.
And so I introduce you to Jamon Iberico PhD, and his tale of lust, greed, power, money, urine and luggage.
Take it away Jamon, I suddenly feel very hungry…
I can’t say what an honour it is to be invited to guest write on McCannecdotes. I really can’t.
To explain, like Alan, my life seems to consist of a chain of inexplicable and unbelievable events. There is, however, one notable difference. Alan is someone that ‘things’ tends to happen to, whereas I’m someone who usually causes ‘things’ to happen. I would say this is why we get on and understand each other so well, but for some reason I never actually see him around.
On reflection it all started back in 2005, during a company conference in Malta (Alan and I both work at Sony). Two jumbo jets had been chartered to convey the entire company, it was going to be an exciting week, and I had been well-organised to get from home in Oxfordshire to Gatwick in good time.
Arriving at the start of a sunny day at the car park, I went to retrieve my suitcase from the car boot. It wasn’t there. I checked the back seat. It wasn’t there either. I had this feeling of sinking dread. It’s a very specific emotional reaction unique to situations where you irrevocably screw up a trip somewhere. I then suspended belief, and spent around five minutes checking between the boot and the car thinking somehow my eyes had just missed an entire suitcase. After checking under the car mats, it dawned on me that the suitcase was not actually in the car. Through a process of creative brainstorming I concocted the hypothesis that ‘it must have fallen out on the motorway’, and considered for a full minute driving back along the M25, scanning the hard shoulders, where it surely must be laying (albeit a bit scratched-up). Eventually a text from my then-wife, confirmed my case was by the front door, where I’d left it in order not to forget it in my disciplined regime of getting ready for Malta.
One reason I am able to survive is that I can resolve a crisis. Admittedly, I inadvertently cause a few of them, but the balance on those occasions is net-neutral. After failing to negotiate with the tour operator to let me drive home, pick up the case, and the take the next jumbo from Stansted, she suggested I buy some clothes at the airport. Preposterous! I was quite a portly gentleman, and anyway big-boned and well proportioned. There was no ‘High and Mighty’, or ‘Tall and Fat’ store for miles.
God bless Cotton Traders, they sell everything in every size for under a tenner, and somehow they had the foresight to have an outlet in Gatwick. Are there some freakonomic statistics that oversized gentlemen just happen to lose or forget their luggage at Gatwick? Maybe I belong to that prized market segment. With 25 minutes until boarding, and after throwing my Visa card at the attendant, I emerged with a complete new wardrobe, including day, night, and beachwear. Addendum: I also stood on my new glasses in the changing room and snapped the lenses out so it was a wonder I could even see what I looked like.
Feeling liberated of the best part of £300 I ran to check-in, stuffing my newly packaged selection of cotton apparel into my new Nike backpack, just in time. There, a startled colleague asked: “What’s happened? What are you doing with all those new clothes?” (me ripping packaging off). Our eyes connected, and I realised that he would inevitably deduce quite shortly, through a process of logical elimination, exactly what I was up to and why. I confessed, and with sincerity and maintaining proper eye-contact, asked him not to tell anyone. With mutual understanding and sympathy, he told me not to worry. Walking away respectfully and with true professional restraint, he seemed to quiver slightly.
I went through airport security with a sense of relief and amazement, I was somehow saved. Walking through the departure lounge I picked up some toiletries (so my breath would not end up smelling like a plague pit). All seemed good and restored. Except… Arriving at the boarding gate, where half the company were waiting, a massive cheer erupted at my approach. Everyone knew. Everyone. All the people that made PlayStation games, all the people that made clever adverts for PlayStation, paid my salary, would do so from now in full knowledge that there was such a person on this planet that could forget to take his luggage away on a trip. These goodly heroes of the gaming world, whatever hardship they may endure, whatever slight on their character or moment of insecurity, they may indeed reflect ‘At least I’m not him’. One of my so-called ‘team’ gave me her phone, my boss was on it at Stansted where the rest of the company were waiting. ‘Jamon, words fail me, but listen to this…’ My humiliation was almost but mercilessly not-quite complete, as I heard the remaining half of the company cheering in tinny telephonic tones all that distance away.
Arriving at Malta I was a little twitchy and felt misplaced. Men know this and have to deal with awkwardness at the urinal sometimes in their lives. Zip… Peeeeee. I was somehow aware without looking; one of our top Executives was on my right. You know those moments when you’re supposed to deliver the ‘elevator pitch’? You’ve probably been on training course where you have to write that short 30 second speech that supposedly projects your hitherto lack-lustre career along an interstellar trajectory. I was struggling to remember mine. Peeee… Looking dead head: ‘Ah Jamon.’ ‘Hello…’ ‘I heard you forgot your suitcase’. Peeeee… Tinkle tinkle. Zip. ‘You twazack’, ‘…’ No, I couldn’t remember that damn elevator pitch.
It was actually an excellent trip. Thanks to Cotton Traders I was always fully attired in cool breathable garments suitable for all occasions. My reputation in PlayStation was made that week. Colleagues shouted from across busy rooms, crowded streets, baked beaches: ‘Jamon, that’s a nice shirt.. Is it new?’ and proceeded to roll merrily on the floor, hooting with the obvious hilarity of it, while people in my vicinity I didn’t know remarked, ‘Oh, you’re that guy!!!’ I would be in conversations with total strangers who, between polite mouthfuls of canapé, would ask: “Did you hear about that guy that forgot his suitcase?”
Now, seven years on, people seem never to tire of this tedious tale. One of my team even decided to start a diary of my misdemeanours; it was called the ‘buffoon log’. It details all such occurrences, around ninety in all, over a two year period after the event. I have a pdf version of it as a memento. No, you can’t have a copy.
I must point out in my defence that I am not actually a moron. I do have a PhD, and this is my trademark eccentricity, the nutty professor. I found balance last year. After waiting for over half an hour for a suitcase that didn’t turn up at a luggage carousel in Heathrow, I headed with a terse clipped attitude for lost luggage. I searched frantically for my luggage tag, and then realised, and explained to the baffled supervisor that it was OK, I didn’t actually bring a suitcase with me in the first place. The circle is complete; I finally remembered to collect a suitcase I didn’t bring. Balance is restored. I’ll stop there. Of course there are many, many, more such stories. Thanks Alan, good luck. I hope I don’t inadvertently break your blog.
Thanks “Jamon” for taking the time out of your busy bullfighting schedule to share your story, and indeed thanks for reminding me about the famed Malta conference; I arrived at the company just months after, which coincided with the realisation that we’d spent all the billions we made from the phenomenal success of PlayStation 2 (on things like flying the whole company to Malta) and had to cut back in order to fund its successor.
The drawback of these Guest McCannecdotes is that of course Jamon might start to siphon away some of the hordes of hot chicks who have become my groupies since I started this blog, so we will have to keep these guest posts just for special occasions, when I am too busy, or nothing funny has happened, or I literally can’t be arsed…