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The Unexpected Sneezing Attack

Monty Norman, a British film composer and singer, best known for composing the ‘James Bond Theme,” passed away recently. It has been reported that he based the Bond theme on a stage song he had composed earlier about a man born with an unlucky sneeze.

So, there I was spending a week in Barcelona to deliver a two-day ‘Performance at the Limit’ workshop, in which I played the role of the Vice President of Strategy for Volkswagen trying to decide how to enter Formula 1 under the Audi brand. In the simulation, the thirty lawyers in the room from around the world, were cast as consultants advising me on what decision to take. The program was designed to help augment their business acumen. We were delivering two workshops that week, Monday-Tuesday and then Thursday-Friday.

The venue was the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya the site of the Spanish F1 Grand Prix. We had taken over the FIA’s offices for the lecture room and work group sessions. The Pit Stop Challenge, where they changed four tires on an F1 car in a competition against the clock as a team building exercise, took place in the pit lane below in front of one of the garages.

Wednesday, our day off in-between the workshops, was a chance to relax. And so, my colleague and I shared a delicious paella at a scenic beachfront restaurant on a sunny afternoon. He was driving and therefore abstained from alcohol, but I drank a few glasses of refreshing sangria. That set the stage for what happened the next day.

Thursday morning, standing in front of the new group of lawyers, I started to sneeze, not once or twice, but so often I barely made it through the introduction. This continued the whole day as I struggled to get through my presentations and role play sessions. I did not feel sick, just was sneezing. My colleague had no similar problem, so we surmised I must have had a reaction to the sangria. His only reaction was, not so helpfully, to break out laughing when a sneezing fit hit me.

By the following morning the sneezing was gone, ending as mysteriously as it came.

Like 007, sometimes one must deal with the unexpected. Da-dah- da- da-da-na-na! Da-dah- da- da-da-na-na! Next time, perhaps in lieu of sangria, I should order a vodka martini, shaken not stirred.

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