::Literate Blather::
Thursday, March 29, 2007
Notes from the Board Room

Mad Scribblings from a Five-Hour Corporate Meeting

9 a.m. – The meeting has started. We're squeezed into a conference room dominated by a high-polished conference table. There’s no coffee. No muffins. No donuts. Hell, there’s no water. My buffet breakfast is sitting like a lump in my stomach and all I want to do is go back to bed.

9:05 a.m. – A power point slide show – with lots of graphs. Outside, a construction crew starts up a power generator that sounds like they are crushing gravel.

9:20 a.m. – The presenter keeps misspelling “uncertainty” as “uncertainly” in her slides. Why you would even use this word is beyond me.

9:40 a.m. – I asked a question to stay awake. I’m brilliant because a debate starts. Look at us all try to one-up each other.

9:50 a.m. – Sirens. An ambulance and a fire truck just whipped by. Cool.

9:52 a.m. – The presenter asks one of the people to move their head so she can continue to read her slides. Everyone laughs because she makes a joke about his head being too thick to read through. It’s like living on Comedy Central. Coffee. I need coffee.

9:55 a.m. – Another meeting breakdown. Around the table we go talking about a side point that was raised about a question on the slides. The conversation has nothing to do with the presentation – yet it keeps building momentum. People preface their remarks with: “Not to belabor the point” or “Not to beat a dead horse.” Dead horse. Knowing my luck that will be today’s lunch.

10 a.m. – Has it really been an hour? How many goddamn graphs can you fit on one slide? The presenter is averaging two or three per slide. Bad color schemes as well.

10:10 a.m. – Is there any art less inspiring than conference room art? This room has two prints in the same family – bland reds and blues painted into squares and outlined in black. Random letters are then spread throughout both prints. What was the artist trying to say? Other than – “Look a blandly colored square with the letter “R” on it.” I now want to hunt down and beat the artist with a rusty pipe.

10:20 a.m. – You can’t get this time back. Seriously. It’s gone. Forever.

10:23 a.m. – “He beat that issue like a rug.” Someone just said that.

10:25 a.m. – We have been on this presentation for more than one hour and twenty minutes and we’re only on slide 30. About two minutes and 70 seconds per slide, which is actually not bad.

10:30 a.m. – One of my colleagues has escaped to the rest room. You need two keys to go to the bathroom here. One to get into the john and the second to return to the conference room. It’s like Fort Knox. So when you have to go – you need to request the keys from one of the clients. You might as well stand up and say: “Hey, I’ve got to take a piss.”

10:35 a.m. – One of my colleagues is falling asleep. She’s really struggling with it. Her eyes are lowering and her chin is dipping. When the dip gets too low and her chin hits her chest, she snaps back to attention. Lids are half-mast. Eyes are blood-shot. We may lose her.

10:45 a.m. – Our first break. Thank God. I’m drowning in my own urine. I dive for the keys.

11:05 a.m. – No one wants to start up again so we’re all milling about getting ready for the second presentation of this marathon session. Is there anything more annoying than chit chat before a boring presentation?

11:10 a.m. – I’m zoning out…

11:20 a.m. – More distracting side discussions. I wonder what we’re going to eat for lunch?

11:25 a.m. – Yawns are contagious. A fun game is to yawn and make eye contact with the person across from you. They will yawn. You can’t help but yawn. And soon it spreads like a virus through the room.

11:35 a.m. – We were interrupted by a workman who wants to do some tinkering with the alarm system. Our client said he needs to come back at 2 p.m. when the meeting ends. 2 p.m. It seems like a very long, long time from now.

11:41 a.m. – The sound of traffic drifts in from the closed windows. If you listen closely it can sound like a waterfall.

11:45 a.m. – My colleague seems to have gotten a second wind. She’s sitting up straight and very attentive.

11:47 a.m. – My ass hurts.

11:49 a.m. – There are two exit signs in this conference room. One thermostat. One fire detector. A clock. Two light switches. A small white board. A big plant (fern?). Newspaper clips and the two pieces of art. There’s still no water or food.

11:50 a.m. – Is there a Greek god of lunch?

11:52 a.m. – The food has arrived. Can’t wait to take a large bite of a soggy sandwich!

12:01 p.m. – “Marketing falling on sword” was just uttered. What in god’s name does that mean? When can we eat?

12:08 p.m. – One of the founders came in and now we’re recapping the last three hours. Kill me now.

12:12 p.m. – I’ve grabbed an Italian wrap and a Coke. I am profoundly disappointed by the lack of chips.

12:22 p.m. – We’re going through the slide deck again.

12:34 p.m. – Still recapping…

12:37 p.m. I wish I had a better pen.

12:48 p.m. – The CEO has walked in. My grave fear is that we’ll now start to recap – again. The CEO made a beeline to the sandwich table. Not much left over there.

12:49 p.m. – “If you’re off 3X you can have Jesus Christ selling your products and it won’t make a difference.” Best quote of the day – so far.

12:55 p.m. – Keep the big dog happy by maintaining eye contact. CEOs love that.

12:57 p.m. Sigh. We’re now recapping for the CEO. I’m starting to feel the four hours as I fidget. I’m looking at the exit doors with envy.

1:02 p.m. – “Flanking strategy” was used in a sentence.

1:20 p.m. – Still recapping. Why is the CEO always the slowest person in the room?

1:25 p.m. – This is torture. There has not been one original thought expressed in the last four and a half hours. We repeat, repeat, repeat and then we review what we repeat. This meeting should have been one hour – max.

1:29 p.m. – The VP of Marketing is kissing the CEO’s ass. Long speech about how smart and engaged he is. Now everyone around the table is nodding in agreement. So am I.

1:36 p.m. – The CEO left. I hugged him. Then I went to the bathroom. And, yes, I had to borrow the keys to get in and out.

1:42 p.m. – I’m getting giddy. We’ve entered the wrap-up portion of the meeting. This could last five minutes or five hours.

1:44 p.m. – Ass kissing is running rampant.

1:45 p.m. – Another founder has come in for the food. We are starting down a bad recap road. Damn!

1:47 p.m. – The founder has sat down to eat and is babbling. My God – I’m never going to get out of here.

1:50 p.m. – Meeting over. I’ve survived to meet another day!

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