Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty
Well, this is amusing.
At about 2:25pm Swiss time today, I surrendered my hard-won chair in one of the World Economic Forum conference lounges and headed upstairs to a suite of discreet meeting rooms.
These rooms, which are owned and managed by the WEF staff, are rented by the hour, so world leaders can squeeze in as many secret meetings as possible.
The head of a huge U.S. government agency had asked to meet with me, and that’s not the sort of meeting I was going to say “no” to.
So I headed upstairs at the appointed time, and was ushered into the assigned secret meeting room–which was at that moment being hastily cleaned of the debris left over from the last private meeting. (They turn these things like restaurant tables at Arby’s).
After five minutes of sitting by myself, I got an email from one of the many staff members of the head of the huge government agency who have been emailing me to set up and confirm the meeting. The staffer told me that the head of the agency was “running 10 minutes late.”
Fifteen more minutes went by, and then I got another email saying that the agency head was “almost there.”
And then, at 2:57pm, three minutes before our 30 minute meeting was due to end, one of the World Economic Forum monitors poked her head in the door.
“Your people are here!” she chirped.
“Great!” I said, wondering how I would squeeze my questions into the three minutes I would have with the head of the government agency before she or another WEF staffer booted us both out of the room.
“Yes!” the staffer said, cheerfully. “Two women.”
Thinking maybe the two women were advance folks for the head of the agency, I told the WEF staffer that I was actually going to be meeting with a man.
“A man!?” she chirped. “You are not meeting with Marissa Mayer?”
No, I was not meeting with Marissa Mayer.
But I would certainly go say hello to Marissa Mayer, who evidently had booked the room I was in for the half hour after I had it. I would go say hello because, well, I’m a big Marissa Mayer fan, and she’s my uber-boss at Yahoo (where I’m a host of the Daily Ticker economics show.)
But just as I was on my way down the hall to say hello to Marissa Mayer, who should suddenly show up but the head of the government agency.
After an awkward greeting, I abandoned my Marissa Mayer mission and disappeared back into the meeting cube with the head of the agency for the remaining minute of our rental. I then learned, among other things, that the head of the agency had lost his phone, that he had the room booked for another hour, and that his next meeting was with… Marissa Mayer.
That explained why the WEF staffer had assumed that I was meeting with Marissa Mayer. She assumed that I was the head of the government agency!
But it left me in a bit of a pickle.
Demand that the head of the government agency honour the meeting he had requested with me and make the CEO of a Fortune 500 company–who happens to be my boss–just stand there and wait?
Promise the head of the government agency (who was genuinely and believably apologetic) that we would reschedule the meeting at our earliest convenience… and head back downstairs to the lounge to the hoi polloi lounge, while saying hello to my boss Marissa on the way.
If I were the government official, I would certainly have been hoping that I would take Door No. 2.
So I did.
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