If You Could Just Repeat That One More Time: The Sorry, What Was That? Press Conference

Previously: A press conference about what happened to this morning, where I was going to get so much done. “Like I said, the plan was to start at 9:00. I can’t speak to all the whys or wherefores of that. What I can tell you — what I’ve already told you, but which I’m happy to repeat again because, like I said, we’re interested in complete transparency — is that somewhere in between “waking up on time,” “not going back to sleep,” and “getting started at 9:00,” something else happened.”

Good afternoon. Thank you all for coming. I realize how valuable your time is, and I appreciate — well, I appreciate it. Let’s get started.

Here’s what we know so far: You said something, fairly recently. Quite recently, to be precise, or as precise as possible, given current limitations. To me, I’m fairly certain, or at the very least I was one of several, quantity unknown, recipients. Potential recipients.

It was information you wanted me to have, or wanted to confirm that I already had, or information that was new to me, possibly also new to you. [Inaudible, from the back row] Sorry, we’re not taking questions yet. [Inaudible, from the front row] Oh, are we? Let me just — I see. Yes, I see. One moment. That’s right. My apologies. Yes, that’s correct. It might have been a question. You were either trying to transmit information to me, to several people either inclusive or exclusive of me, either one, or you were asking me a direct question, or I suppose it could have been an open-ended question directed at no one in particular and/or everyone within earshot.

[Question, inaudible] I do think it’s reasonable at this point, even without all of the relevant information, to assume that even if the original statement — or question, yes — was not directly addressed to me — or solely addressed, thank you — that some sort of response was, or is, expected.

[Question, inaudible] Because of how everyone was looking at me, as if in expectation. We can securely say at this point, I think, that something was definitely said, and something was definitely expected in return, likely from me. Almost certainly from me. [Pause for comment or question] From context clues. And from habit.

[Question, inaudible] I think I’ve been pretty transparent about that. I’m not trying to hide anything. Yes, this has happened before. That much is obvious, I think. I don’t know if I would call it “common.” Certainly I’m not prepared to call it a habit —

[Pause for something] Well, that’s your definition, and you’re certainly entitled to it —

[Pause for question, inaudible] We do, as it happens. We happen to think that if you wouldn’t mind just asking it again — or saying it again, yes, thank you, whichever term you consider appropriate —

Well, that’s really a question of degree, rather than difference, don’t you think?

— We believe, after careful deliberation, that if you were to just repeat yourself once, we would be prepared, equipped, and happy to furnish you with whatever response or information or direction most relevant and necessary, to the best of our ability.

Yes, your hand has been up for a while — no, in the white shirt — I apologize, I didn’t see yours. The other hand. That one. Yes, thank you. [Pause for question or comment]

I’m sorry, what was that? [Pause, inaudible] Sorry, if you could just — one more time —

Excuse me, I wasn’t finished with this one yet. With — did you give me your name already? [Stiffly] I’m very sorry, I’m sure.

We maintain our original position — our original position — please, if everyone could please save their follow-up questions and comments for afterwards, we’d be happy to answer each of you in turn — but our original position of Sorry, what was that? — if you would simply be so good as to repeat whatever it was that was said, by whomever it was that said it, once more, now that we’re completely and entirely listening, we’ll all get out of here in a timely fashion.

[Pause, inaudible] I don’t see why that’s necessary.

[Pause, inaudible] It’s not a question of being upset. I just like to understand what I’m being asked to do before doing it. I don’t think that’s unreasonable. [Pause, inaudible] I can’t really comment on that without more information. I can tell you that we began the conversation at an earlier point — how much earlier I can’t be sure without reviewing the data — in what I would describe as a fairly convivial fashion. The tone was relatively friendly, I believe.

[Pause for question or comment] I would characterize it as friendly, yes. And we were — I can tell you this with perfect confidence — the intention from the beginning was absolutely to pay close and careful attention.

Yes, the intention was also to convert attention into memory. That’s always the intention here. We’re very committed to the process of converting present attention into future memory here. That’s always been one of our core values. I hardly think we need to start reviewing our core values at this point. I’m perfectly willing to admit — I’ll be the first to admit — that we don’t always get it right, of course. There have been failures. Setbacks. Mistakes. Lapses. Yes, you could call them lapses. And we’re willing to take full responsibility — we do take full responsibility. Regularly.

[Pause, inaudible] What else would you call this?

All I can say to that is I don’t know. [Brief clamor] Please, everybody — it’s not going to help matters if you’re all talking at once —

Somewhere in between the intention to pay attention and the present moment, where I think I’ve been fairly clear and consistent in admitting that we can’t just now repeat word-for-word whatever was said, yes. Somewhere in between those two moments is the problem. Was the problem. Was the problems. Are the problems. One, possibly more than one, problem.

Well, we could speculate about that all day. Do you want to speculate about that all day?

[Pause] You’re right, of course. I’m sorry. All of us here are — Yes. I understand. If you wouldn’t mind just repeating — I see. Well, if you do mind — does that go for everyone here? Show of hands? I see. I suppose that puts us at something of an impasse. Perhaps if just one of you was willing to summarize what you believe to be the main issue here, the primary impediment to mutual understanding, then I could speak to that more clearly. Yes, in the middle, third row. My apologies, the fourth row. I wasn’t counting the — Yes.

Sorry, I didn’t quite catch that.

No, that’s not a criticism. I realize you said it, whatever it was, and I was doing my best — everyone on the team is doing their best, I can assure you, but one’s best doesn’t always preclude the possibility of error — I think just once more is going to do the trick.

Folks, I realize it’s been a long day for everyone here, and I’m sure you’re all as anxious as I am to get home and see your families. I believe that if we all work together we can be out of here by — [pause for question or comment] No, that can’t be right. Really?

Well, regardless. We can’t turn back the clock now, I’m afraid. Rather than waste more of your time with additional apologies, if you could please just — Sorry, what was that?

No, I’m not joking. I’m trying. I can only apologize if the distinction still seems unclear. You are currently receiving our best efforts — Sorry, what? And who’s that? You’re sure I was there? Sure that was me, I mean?

I see. Well, all I can say to that is I didn’t catch it. I’m sure you delivered it correctly and with sufficient time to spare. I’m not trying to find fault in your delivery, believe you me. But somewhere in between your saying it and my responding to it, something fell apart.

Well, that’s what we’re here to discuss today, I think. That’s my understanding of this meeting, at least. You, or more than one of you, said something to me along the lines of —

[Pause, inaudible] I think it might have been a yes-or-no sort of question?

Well, that’s news to me.

Perhaps it shouldn’t be news to me, but it is news to me, is all I can say.

If you wouldn’t mind just reframing the question for me now, I — Sorry, I didn’t catch that. What was that? Sir, I can’t hear you when you — did anyone else catch that? Is he coming back? Did anyone get his name, or the gist of what he said?

Sorry, one more time?

All right, it looks like that’s all the time that row has for the day. I’m sure you all have other meetings to get to. Let’s pick this back up tomorrow at around the same time and hope we can get whatever this is off the agenda in time for — [pause, inaudible] That was today? You’re kidding, right? Fuck.

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