I had an epiphany yesterday. One of those weird synchronicity moments where the truth becomes luminously clear. A moment that has to be told, shared with others.
(I’d have done this sooner, but last night, Blogger deleted the first version of this dreck about nose hair, so I had to write it again. By the time I was done, it was two in the morning, and I was pooped.
Hey, I don’t prioritize this shit by cosmic importance, folks. There are few places in the world where ruminations about some guy’s nose hair takes precedence over a moment of personal insight and understanding. But this is one of those places. Deal.)
So, my enlightenment came while sitting in a meeting yesterday morning. It was a meeting — and a morning — like many others I’ve had, until about halfway through, when it hit me: that’s just it. This meeting, this morning… they’re not just typical for me. They’re stereotypical for me. Suddenly, the meeting had become a parable, a microcosm of my life. If someone were ever to make some artsy French film about my life, full of symbolism and analogy (those goddamned French… can’t they just say what they mean?), this meeting would be the movie. It sums me up more or less perfectly, for better or worse. And this is how it went:
10:30am — The meeting starts. Or so I assume. I’m still on my way from home, and looking for a parking spot. Late, as usual. I finally find a place, grab a notebook, and head for the office.
10:32am — There’s an elevator on each side of the hallway in the building lobby, with a call button beside each. One of the elevators always seems to be on the ground floor. This is good. No matter which button I press, the elevator waiting for me is the other one, on the opposite side of the hall. This is damned annoying. I push one of the buttons. The elevator door behind me, across the hallway, dings merrily. Bitches.
10:36am — I reach the meeting room, where the proceedings are already under way. Today, it’s a presentation by one of the technical managers, outlining a new plan for how projects will be organized. I’m brand new in this office, so it’s useful information. I turn to a blank page in my notebook. My eyes are wide, my ears open. I’m ready to take notes.
10:37am — The presenter is going through introductory slides. Something about how computers were invented, or how the Internet came to be, or something equally remedially ridiculous. Even I know this shit, and I’ve only been here two weeks. My mind wandering, I wonder whether I remembered to lock the car.
10:41am — The presentation begins in earnest. Details are about to be revealed, plans unveiled. I stop wondering whether the jagged brown patch on the face of the girl sitting beside me is best classified as ‘mole’, ‘birthmark’, or ‘hairy premature liver spot’. I take the cap off my pen. I am ready to learn.
10:42am — I slump in my chair, awash in a sea of Managerspeak™. There are charts and graphs, workflows and summaries. All high-level, ‘birds-eye view’ types of slides. We’re told that ‘‘People’ enter ‘data’ of different ‘types’, and then do ‘analysis’‘. This explanation takes three minutes. Ugh. This ‘sucks’. ‘Ass‘. Not a good start.
10:49am — I’m back to the ‘mole’. There’s a single curly hair springing out of it, like a little piggy’s tail. I idly wonder whether it’s long enough to wrap around my pinky. I’m dimly aware of a voice, seemingly far away, explaining that we need to ‘articulate our paradigm‘. My brain retreats further from the onslaught.
10:56am — Suddenly, without warning, Mr. Burns’ ‘See My Vest‘ song from the Simpsons pops into my head. I don’t know why — I haven’t seen that episode in months. Unfortunately, I can’t remember many of the words to the song. So I make up new verses, silently singing myself back to sanity while the technobabble circus continues to unfold in front of me:
(‘See these loafers, made from gophers…‘)
‘…take a holistic approach to project management…‘
(‘…and these mittens, once were kittens…‘)
‘…well-stratified layers of technical infrastructure…‘
(‘Check… out… this muumuu, made from emu…‘)
‘…more efficient interfacing with the project stakeholders…‘
(‘…my Irish setter’s now a sweater…‘)
‘…brainstorm modalities for effective strategic prioritization…‘
(‘…who wouldn’t die for pigskin pants?‘)
‘…reduce the footprint of thick client middleware…‘
(‘…here’s a blouse, made from grouse, and a brooch carved from a mouse…‘)
‘…seamlessly integrate the cross-functional teams…‘
(‘…and a sport coat made from gorilla chest…‘)
‘…promote organizational accountability for actionable tasks…‘
(‘See my vest!‘)
‘…assimilate and act on the suggestions of proactive ‘change agents’…‘
(‘See my vest!‘)
‘…oversee the validation and curation of critical business rules…‘
‘…formulate metrics and parameters for meaningful quality assessment…‘
‘…reassess rollout methodologies to assure timely transfer of deliverables…‘
11:08am — Crap. We’re barely through half the meeting. Also, I realize that I must have been arching my eyebrows — maybe even lip-synching — while I was singing to myself. Several people on the other side of the room are giving me very odd looks. I begin making up a story about having mild bouts of Tourette’s Syndrome to cover my asininery.
11:13am — I’ve slumped further in my chair. I can now barely see the slideshow over the top of the desk we’re all huddled around. On the screen is a diagram of a user linked to a variety of vague-sounding system functions, like ‘Add Metadata’ and ‘View Metadata’. I try to think of a way to make the pain go away. Maybe I could hang myself with that girl’s mutant mole hair. Or jam my pen so far into my eye that it scrambles my brain. On the slide, the icon for the user is the little yellow AOL figure. O Death, where is thy sweet sting?
11:25am — Finally, miraculously, the presentation ends. Thus concludes a solid hour of my life that I can never have back. We’re told that the slides are available on the intranet, in case we want to take another look. I’d sooner lobotomize myself with a blowtorch and a spork.
The floor is opened up for questions. Of course, no one could possibly have any real questions, since nothing was actually said. Regardless, one guy raises his hand and gives it a shot. You know, that guy. That one fucking guy who makes a point of asking a question at every meeting, no matter how little he understands or how irrelevant it is to his job. The douchebag who seemingly has a sack chock full of dumbass statements and boring questions for every situation. Yeah, that guy. Brown-nosing dickbag.
11:32am — I just spent seven minutes listening to a rambling, incoherent answer to an entirely pointless, irrelevant question. The correct answer would have been, ‘That doesn’t make any damned sense, you stupid cow.‘ But instead, we’ve been taken on a whirlwind tour back through the talk, apparently just in case something in there triggers some spark of enlightenment in the brain of the ballsack who asked it. Slides were reshown. A pointer was used. Again, we were told that the slides are available online. This is truly the ninth circle of Hell.
11:41 — It’s finally over. Like a drowning man gasping for air, we burst from the room and scatter to the winds. Some people go directly back to their desks, which they’ll no doubt use to bang their heads against until the hurt goes away. Others gather in groups to go to lunch, which — if they’re at all intelligent people — will consist of martinis, cheap whiskey, or some sort of paint thinner. Anything to help them forget. As for me, I’m taking a long walk around the block to cool down. Maybe I’ll come back, and maybe I won’t. Maybe I’ll throw myself in front of a truck. I really can’t say yet. I just know that I have to be elsewhere for a while, in a safe place, to coax my brain out from its hiding place. Otherwise, I may never see it again.
So, that’s it. All the major aspects of my life were there — the chronic tardiness, the short attention span, the problem with authority (including meaningless managerial doublespeak). I was in turn annoyed, bored, disgusted, and amused. I found creative and ridiculous ways to entertain myself, in even the darkest of moments. Cartoons played a large role. Alcohol was prominently featured (though not consumed, which would probably have helped… and been even more fitting). And I even displayed poor posture. Folks, welcome to my life. I don’t know how else to say it.
Anyway, that’s my story. Just another window into the inky blackness that is my soul. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some martinis to guzzle. There’s another meeting scheduled for three this afternoon, and I am not going to be unprepared again. I can only be sober so many times while my ‘paradigm’ is being ‘articulated’. And once is too damned many!Permalink | 1 Comment