February 16, 2010

Fiction for a Tuesday

I'd long thought the corporate equivalent of the congressional filibuster is the Long, Boring Meeting (LBM), a cudgel that when used or even threatened can wield much power.

But when Phil pulled his trump card on a Friday evening and suggested a meeting, we all thought he was bluffing or at least that he'd schedule it in the hemi-distant future, perhaps a week hence. We pictured a cozy early afternoon affair on Thursday or, better yet, a Tuesday some ten days out, which from that vantage seemed as thin and gossamer as frost on a rose.

It was true we were ignorant of the sales culture, one in which meetings are held in roughly the same esteem that our moon-pie expeditions were, that is our forays around the floor alertly looking for food and near-foods leftover from birthday and milestone celebrations.

In hindsight, we should've paid attention to the whispers that Phil was a wild-eyed, dangerous extrovert capable of bending introverts to his will by promising to invite them to early morning Monday meetings during which he would carry the conversational ball and fling cringe-inducing buzzwords like Drew Brees passes. We didn't know that you don't make eye contact, which only encourages him. We didn't know that the difference between a salesman and an accountant is like the difference between PETA and the NRA.

We entered the conference room nonchalantly, examining the seating area without moving our heads, sidling up to the chairs with an athletic economy of movement. With cat-like reflexes we sat our seven derrieres (Phil'd invited four but we brought back-up) around the circular table.

And then - SLAM - we didn't know what hit us.

Displaying the full jujitsu of his ability, he "reached out", promised to "close the loop" with someone he'd already previously promised to talk to, and suggested we'd be "golden" if we did this for him.

Our eyes glazed from his finely-tailored suit to the certificates on his wall attesting to his prowess in the Meeting form, and swift indeed did we move action items from his list to ours.

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