The message came in the form of an e-mail from my unseen corporate overlords that reside somewhere on the mother ship. There are no names or titles attached to it because they choose to remain anonymous. It is probably easier that way; it reads as follows:
It has some to our attention that your division has not been profitable for the last quarter. We are calling upon you to make any changes you deem appropriate to correct whatever is causing this problem. Failure to do so will result in your dismissal from the company. Please do not respond to this e-mail. Your actions will speak louder than any words you can come up with. That is all.
So I sat in my office and decided to meet with my staff on an individual basis to try and get at the root of the problem. Before I get into the details of said meeting(s), some preliminary information regarding them will put things in perspective regarding why I did what I did.
Alan has been with the company for over 10 years and is in charge of the agency department. He is about 45 years old but his physical appearance reminds of the boy from the Christmas classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. He speaks nothing but corporate doublespeak that is reminiscent of Joseph Heller’s novel Catch-22. He strides through the office wearing a suit and tie while the rest of us wear business casual and he looks like he’s always in a hurry. His response to most questions that come his way is usually “Too busy to talk guys”.
Terry, as he likes to be called, heads up our Business Support Team. He rarely ventures outside of the confines of his office and is only seen on his forays to the head and the coffee machine. He rarely speaks and only acknowledges the presence of others with a slight nod of his head or a feeble wave of his hand. He is covered in a sleeve of tattoos that run the length of his arms that nobody in the office has ever seen since he never wears a short sleeve shirt. There's something creepy about him that I just can't put my finger on.
Chris oversees something called the Execution Management Team. Many of us are still trying to figure out what that means since his specialty seems to be having his direct reports never do the same thing the same way twice in row. He is also the epitome of a micromanager and no detail escapes his attention. His other main specialty is sending out blast e-mails reminding us to read other blast e-mails sent by our corporate overlords and to complete any required training weeks before the date is due.
Linda heads up what we call our Media Team. She is in her mid 40’s and is somewhat frumpy in her appearance. Try and recall the blandest thing you’ve ever eaten in your life and then multiply that by a factor of five. To compound matters, when she does speak she starts every sentence with a lilting voice that begins with the word “SOOOOooooOOO”. It makes her sound like a valley girl that has been transported in time.
Terri is in charge of our IT Department. She too is in her mid 40’s but has a certain flair about her that commands attention. Her penchant for wearing Hillary Clinton style pantsuits from the 80’s with a hairdo to match is probably a good indication of why she works in IT. Her main claim to fame is never fully implementing a project anywhere near on time or anywhere close to the budget. Her excuse is to blame the business requirements as being too ambiguous when in fact, they are clear to everybody else.
Patrick is somewhat of an enigma. He works from home three days a week and even when he is in the office, it’s hard to tell. He sits there with a look on his face that is akin to the thousand-yard stare as if he’s lost in thought. We have to kick him every now and then to make sure he’s still breathing since he doesn’t respond to e-mails or phone calls. His sense of urgency is clearly non-existent yet he remains a mainstay of what I like to call “Team Inertia.”
That’s me, the leader of “Team Inertia”. I spend most of my early mornings at work trying to look busy by making up stories about anything that pops into my head and typing them into my computer. As the afternoon approaches I test my abilities to come up with creative excuses as to why I have to leave early when I fact all I want to do is make it to happy hour, plop my ass down on a barstool and drink myself into oblivion to try and forget my miserable existence. I then wake at 2:00 or 3:00AM and watch reruns of Law & Order on some obscure cable channel in an effort to fall back asleep and repeat the process as often as necessary. That means I do it every day.
Business as usual.
I started out with Alan, our resident corporate tool. I explained our plight and asked his opinion about what we could do to rectify the current situation and bring ourselves back to a measure of profitability.
He started talking about “developing new synergies” to “correct the current paradigm” and “aligning our interests” to form a “more cohesive business model”. While he was doing this he put his head down and started scribbling furiously on his yellow notepad. That turned out to be a mistake.
I took this opportunity to reach in my pocket, pull out a pistol, attach a silencer and put a round in the back of his head. My actions would have made a Mafia hit man proud and I exited his office and made my way to visit Terry.
I arrived at Terry’s office and related the details of our predicament. His response was to lean back in his chair, close his eyes, clasp his hands behind his head and put his feet up on his desk. I let this go on for a good minute or so because I thought he was in deep thought and trying to form a coherent response. That next minute seemed more like an hour and I couldn’t stand it anymore.
Poor Terry never saw it coming and never opened his eyes again.
Next it was time to pay a little visit to the eager beaver, Chris Archer. Upon hearing the details of our current state of affairs he leapt up from his desk, turned his back to me and grabbed three or four different colored highlighters. He then went to the whiteboard and began drawing what I can only assume were Venn diagrams replete with swim lanes and various notations.
Two shots to the back ended all of that.
I found Linda Caramico sitting in her office and was surprised to see her surroundings were as bland as she was. There were no pictures on her desk or on her walls. There were no little mementos or knickknacks or personal touches anywhere in sight. It was a bit dehumanizing. She started off with her patented valley girl singsong voice and said “SOOOoo”
She never got to finish whatever it was she was about to say. In retrospect, I probably did her a favor.
I wandered down to the IT Department in search of Terri Randone. I asked her if she had any technical resources that she could call upon to help stave off our plight. She started to respond in what I can only call “technobabble” that was as dated and out of fashion as her hairdo and mode of dress.
What choice did I have?
Lastly, it was time to call upon the ever somnambulant Patrick Sudheimer. Once again I explained our circumstances and waited for a response. He sat there for what seemed like an eternity with a glazed look on his face. He didn’t blink and his muscles didn’t offer up so much as a twitch. I gave him a gentle nudge and he fell down face forward on his desk. I believe he is the only man on record to actually die from terminal boredom.
With “Team Inertia” now disposed of we soon returned to a measure of profitability. Overhead was greatly reduced and the morale of the remaining staff greatly improved. As for me, I became a hero in their eyes, a legend of sorts for those that would follow in my footsteps. I found myself moving up another wrung on the corporate ladder and it was soon after that I was transferred and became a fully fledged member of the corporate overlords. It’s also here that I got my nickname, the one that would follow me for the rest of my career. I was now known as the “Chairman of the Bored” for eliminating so much of the dead wood and I am now feared as well as respected amongst my peers.
Of course there were some legal ramifications that came as a result of my actions but my fellow corporate overlords came up with a unique defense. In essence, they argued that since I did what I did in the name of profits, my actions were justified and that everybody from the shareholders on down to the workers were better off and the courts agreed.
It makes me proud to be an American
Note from the author:
This is purely a work of fiction however many of the personality traits attributed to the members of "Team Inertia" (including mine) are clearly on display in my current place of employment. If you work in a large corporation, you too might recognize some of them.