Half an hour before the meeting my stomach starts twisting and I begin to feel like throwing up. As I walk to the meeting, one of my colleagues who has managed to wiggle out of it looks at me and says “Good luck!”

I walk into conference room and Boss and Boss of Boss (BoB) are talking to my colleagues in Cantonese. Soft-spoken American colleague is looking at his knees. When I walk in, they persist in Cantonese for a bit and then stop. It’s like they’re all forcing themselves to speak in Cantonese to assert their identity. Whatever.

The meeting begins. American begins presenting his ideas. I am watching Boss’s face. Her brow furrows and she begins to frown. BoB is more receptive but as is the norm, she starts criticisizing. My heart begins to beat so loudly I am sure everyone else can hear it. I’ve already discussed all the ideas on my list so who knows what can go wrong? Boss begins to follow BoB and starts criticising the idea. Suddenly, the discussion takes a turn and BoB goes for the idea. Boss follows suit. American gets two out of three ideas okayed. Not a bad total.

It’s my turn. I present all the previously presented ideas and they are generally approved.

Next it’s the turn of the blue eyed girl. Two of her ideas get approved, one turned down. The usual.

Last is colleague we shall call Joy. There is no joy in this meeting though. Partly it’s her fault for being unable to present her ideas clearly and well, to use tenses correctly when speaking English. But as the bosses get more impatient with her, she gets more tense. She tries to go with the flow of their deprecation but it backfires. Weirdly, it is The Englishman, a semi-subordinate to the boss who is so nice he gets shot down at every meeting, who has given her the idea.

But The Englishman has a new strategy now. He has taken to proposing an idea and before it can be shot down and reviled by the bosses, shoots it down himself. It’s rather painful to watch. And absurd.

As the Englishman lamely concludes his last idea – which I have to admit even I didn’t get the point off – we nod sagely and trail out.

I put on my coat as fast as possible and get out of there, thank my stars that it’s Friday.