Wednesday, July 5, 2006

World Cup horror story

Watching the World Cup these last weeks has brought back vivid memories of one of the grimmest days of my consulting career. I wonder if any readers have similar tales of the woes they've faced as a result of working in the high-paced world of consulting? What events have you missed out on or traumas have you faced? Do post your comments / stories below...

Mine relates to the England - Argentina match in the 1998 knock-out phase of the World Cup. Working on a strategy assignment for an airline, I was fortunate enough to be bumped up to first class on the night of the match. An avid football fan, I was however mortified to be on an overnight flight at the time of England's game - but still relatively junior in the firm there wasn't much I could do about it...

Anyway, the stewardesses came round and asked if the 1st class passengers had any particular requests for the flight. My colleague and I asked if the pilot could radio the ground and keep us abreast of the score situation in the England vs Argentina match. Much to our surprise our request was duly passed on to the cockpit and sure enough a short while after the match began we learnt that England had gone 1-0 down to an early goal.

Some time later, with dinner served, the pilot piped up that England had fought back and the scoreline was now 1-1. We regained our appetite, the beef wellington tasted somehow better and we felt a new wave of belief in the team.

Then around what must have been full-time he came on again - Michael Owen had scored a wonder-goal and England were 2-1 to the good. Buoyed by the news and the fact that only minutes of the game remained, we got ourselves some champagne and toasted England's passage to the next round - while all those around us settled down for a night's sleep.


My eyes squinted open to the sound of the pilot on the PA system again. Pulling my blanket off I heard him say "for those of you who were following the England match, the news isn't so good. It was back to 2-2 by half time and then Beckham got a red card. It went to penalties and England will be on a plane home later today..."

What a depressing way to start a week of consulting! It's one thing to have your beloved team lose at the World Cup - but to celebrate a historic victory only then to discover that you lost was truly horrible.

The pilot had, it seems, been receiving updates only sporadically and had had to stop the announcements once passengers started going to sleep. So much for the feel-good factor of flying first class!! And so much for the desirable jet-set lifestyle...

Got any such tales of your own from your time as a consultant? Do feel free to post them below.


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