When I wake up coughing at 1am or something, I decide to reset my alarm, skip breakfast, and go to the awards ceremony after the opening speeches and join during the coffee break. In my mind, I message my boss that I won’t make the 8am meeting. But only in my mind, I don’t use any kind of electronic equipment to do this. So when I do wake up around 9am after another night of interrupted sleep, I see a message on my phone from her asking “Where are you? Are you alright?” Good to know that if I do cough myself to death in the night, someone might miss me.
It turns out I didn’t understand the timing of the event. I am only half an hour late and the coffee break hasn’t happened yet.
At the coffee break, I feel so happy to run into people I know from our partners in Casablanca. Mr Z, who I used to communicate with regularly before he moved to another team, looks genuinely happy to see me. He even gets a photo with me and my engineering colleague to remember happier earlier times. While grabbing a Moroccan tea, I spot another partner colleague I know, Mr M. He also looks happy to see me, and between my poor French and his small English, we communicate how happy we are to work together and to get on top of the reporting.
I’m feeling pretty good now actually. I’ve hardly coughed at all this morning. Maybe I’ve turned a corner. We’re about 1/3 way through the awards ceremony when I get a little cough…which I can immediately feel is going to turn into a BIG LONG COUGH. Not wanting to interrupt proceedings, I grab my belongings and run out of the room, holding my breath to avoid letting out the horrible wheezing noise I can feel is coming.
Collapsing on a sofa in the foyer , eyes streaming, I let loose with a horrendous coughing-spluttering-wheezing noise. I see people loitering in the foyer giving me concerned looks. Or is it disgusted? Either way, I figure I should go to the toilets and continue this in a more private venue.
Eyes streaming to the point I’m almost blind, I’m clutching at the sink and coughing and spitting into the sink. The cleaning lady looks very concerned for me but she can only express her concern in French and I’m in too much physical distress to put any French words together. Finally the fit stops and I can blow my nose and wipe my eyes. Someone asks in English if I am OK. I reply yes, it is just a cough, but it gets out of control from time to time. I tidy myself up, drink some water and head back into the awards room.
After the organised lunch, we have a site visit around the hotel. It’s recently refurbished and they have installed a heat recovery system, to use the heat generated by the aircon units to make hot water. We visit the basement and the roof to see the equipment.
After the nice walk around, we have the Steering Committee. I’ve written about the Steering Committee before so I won’t repeat too much. However next time I’m in a meeting like this with my colleague and he says “I shouldn’t tell you this, but…” I am going to kick him under the table to signal he should shut up.
So with the most stressful event of the day over (for me) I retreat to my room for a small rest, although of course, if I lie down I start coughing again. So I decide to take a little walk outside. I’d say “take some fresh air” but this is downtown Casablanca so it’s not that fresh.
We have a steering committee dinner, which is surprisingly genial. After sitting across the table from these people for so many years and seeing them as some kind of “enemy”, it’s nice to see them in a social situation and get to know them as human beings.