My school’s accounting club held its annual banquet last Friday night. It was a night of inducting fellow classmates into the club and introducing new officers for the upcoming semester.
Dressed in my new slacks, best dress shirt, black jacket, and new tan leather boots, I arrived fifteen minutes early. I’m always early to these events, I don’t know why. That night, I was as professional as I could ever look and I had been looking forward to this, ever since I reserved my spot three weeks ago. It’s been two years since I’ve been to my last annual banquet – that was when I was inducted into the club – and I can say, this year’s banquet was not the same.
That night, I stepped out of my car, crossed the parking lot, pulled open the door, and stepped into the lobby of the country club. Where is everyone? was my first impression. Doesn’t the banquet start at 6 pm?
Before I could say anything, my instructor noticed me. She checked me in and handed me a name tag. “Table 5,” she said and I pointed at the room with the open door. “In there?” I asked. “Yes.” She replied.
The room had no windows and no view unlike the last time I had been there in 2014. A total of seven tables filled the room with the buffet table in the back. I stood at Table 5, trying to decide whether to sit. After a moment of mental deliberation, I decided to step out. I needed some air.
Where is everyone? I wondered again and looked around outside. I didn’t really want to go back in there, at least not at that moment. There were only a few people in that room and most of them were successful people and attempting to start a conversation terrified me. Let’s go wait in the car, I began walking toward my car but I stopped myself. No, you’re going back in there. Do it for the professional hours you have to earn before the semester ends. That was the primary reason of coming to this event, to fulfill my hours in the club. I sighed and returned to the room.
As I returned inside, people started to show up but they weren’t anyone I knew. They didn’t look like they go to my school either. “So are you excited for the new test format?” My classmate asked, behind the check-in desk. “Oh yes,” I answered, “it’s good he’s giving us the questions beforehand.” He nodded.
The room had begun to get crowded as more people showed up. One by one, people around me began conversing, except no one was talking to me.It was as if I was invisible. So I took my seat and pulled out my camera. Not long after I took this picture, another one of my fellow classmates arrived, “Where’s Kat?” I asked. Kat is an utility friend who had helped me a great deal in the past few months.
“Kat’s sick.” My classmate answered. “She has a high fever.” That’s odd, she looked fine when I saw her yesterday.
“Didn’t she pay $30 for her husband to come to this banquet?”
“Yeah, she cancelled at the last minute.” Conversation over.
Watching the conversations take place around me, I felt anxious. Noises buzzed around me, like flies. It frustrated me. It created chaos in my head. Probably just anxiety, I told myself. I’m just anxious that someone would approach me with a question that I couldn’t answer.
Ding ding ding, glass clinking, probably the best sound I’ve heard that evening. “If I can have everyone take their places.” The club’s president spoke into the microphone. Almost immediately, the room fell silent. “Welcome to our annual banquet and now, if the last two table would start the buffet.”
When it was Table 5’s turn, I grabbed a little bit of everything. The buffet was mostly vegan which suited me. As dinner wrapped up, other events followed including speeches and induction of new members. I sat there as the induction took place and remembered that was me two years ago – receiving my certificate and shaking everyone’s hands. Ah, the sweet memories.