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Well, That’s One Way To Ease Pre-class Jitters

February 10, 2015

A hotel room in Bogata, Colombia looks a lot like a hotel room in Dallas or Charlotte. But, it’s not really the same.

What am I doing here?

I don’t speak Spanish. . . Well, that’s not exactly true. I’ve mastered “Hablo muey feo.” I speak ugly. It’s intentionally bad Spanish. I’m here in South America to teach a training course.

Fortunately the training is going to be delivered in English. The students speak my language much better than I speak theirs. But, it’s a new course.

Just being in Colombia is intimidating. This was the late 90’s and the rebels controlled the countryside. The army controlled the cities. But, there was still a lot of danger for Americans. The rebels discovered that while the US government won’t negotiate with terrorists, sometimes the big oil companies will. I was representing Microsoft, the biggest software company in the world at the time.

Before leaving Redmond, I’d talked to a friend and mentor, Sam Jadallah who had recently returned from a trip to Colombia.

What was security like, Sam?

I told my security team I didn’t want to know what plans they had.

So, if I get kidnapped will Microsoft bail me out?

Well . . . try not to get kidnapped.

Not the most ringing of endorsements.

The night before the first day of the three day class is the worst. I can’t sleep. I can never sleep. I didn’t drink much caffeine except when I travelled. So, I watch Spanish language TV, suck on another Coke and try to not think about the fact that I’m supposed to be up in 5 hours teaching a class full of people who paid a bunch of money to come to a class taught by someone from Microsoft headquarters.

I wish I felt as smart as they will think I am.

I can’t sit still. (Shouldn’t have had those 6 cans of Coke today. . .no yesterday.) The clock rolls over to 2:00 AM. Sleep is as remote as my home in Maple Valley, WA. We sent trainers out alone. I had the local Microsoft guys to help out if needed, but everyone was looking at me to know how to set up the class and run the course.

Relax! I’ve done this a thousand times.

This? What? Taught a class or sat up till dawn the night before the first day?

Yeah, both.

I lay back down on the bed and click through a new group of late night Spanish infomercials. One more thing that never changes.

I try to convince myself the course will go create.


It always goes great!

Yeah, but I’ve never taught in a foreign country before. And it’s a complex course. Suppose I get in the middle of it and forget an important concept? What if they don’t speak English well enough? What if I get kidnapped on the way to the training center?

That’s just stupid.

Finally, I surrender. If I’m going to be up, I might as well prep for the class.

I haul out the oversized instructor guide for the Microsoft Advanced Topics course and flip open to the first slide. I’ll review to make sure I’m confident on the concepts. And it works like a charm. It always does.

Oh, yeah. That’s right.

I’m good. I wrote this.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday at 7:00 AM Mountain Time. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and one grandchild.

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From → Training

One Comment
  1. Michael permalink

    Looks like you have an autocorrect problem here:

    I try to convince myself the course will go create.


    It always goes great!

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