Corporate Fork Debate
Committee of Enormity had a very productive meeting, meaning everyone
ate lots of potato salad along with the sandwiches from Drake’s Pork
Emporium. Oh, and they got through the entire agenda, which is not to
say that anything was actually accomplished – but this is a corporate
meeting, not an initiative related to productivity.
confuse the two.
aftermath, skillfully overseen by the Committee on Meeting Aftermath,
swooped in like a culture vulture pecking at Britney’s skull stubble,
addressing the matter of the leftover forks.
Blarneystone had warned of this. Not everyone likes potato salad, and
there is really no reason you need a fork if you’re eating a sandwich.
His pre-meeting spreadsheet had estimated that 59.6 percent of meeting
participants would scarf their sandwiches and cookies but leave the
potato salad unopened. The result? A solid 65.3 percent.
anything, I was conservative in my assessment of the likely situation,”
Blarneystone informed his colleagues. “And some accused me of alarmism.
Fortunately, I have prepared a resource recovery plan.”
unopened potato salad had to go to the dumpster. Everyone understood
that, if stashed in the fridge, the little cup-sized plastic containers
would become overrun with mold in two weeks. Within five weeks – by now
shoved to the back of the fridge – each small container would be host to
a microjungle teeming with tiny T-Rexes and administered by a
But what of
the forks? The Committee on Meeting Aftermath found itself in a
quandary. The forks could be re-used, after all, and the Corporation had
just made several public announcements about its commitment to
Sustainable Green Profiteering. It couldn’t be throwing out perfectly
good plastic forks.
be the keeper of the unused, still perfectly good forks?” asked
committee chair Peckinspaugh. The matter was referred to a subcommittee,
which issued a 34-page report recommending that the receptionist keep
the forks in her third middle drawer. (A spirited case was made for the
fifth top drawer, but that’s a story for another day.)
the receptionist was happy to accept her role as keeper of the forks,
which is why she greeted the news with a pleasant: “Why the hell do I
have to do that?” The Committee on Meeting Aftermath assured the
receptionist that they would not proactively advertise the availability
of the forks, so as to prevent her time from being taken up by constant
fork requests. If you pause Solitaire too many times in a single game,
it will freeze up.
promise only lasted 43 seconds, as Kiplerglasper, who didn’t understand
the meaning of “proactively,” kind of sort of e-mailed the entire
company to tell them where they could get forks. After some time passed
– two hours and 12 minutes to be specific – the receptionist had had
enough, and she sent a 900-word e-mail to the CEO complaining about the
constant fork requests.
It was a
constructive discussion in which the CEO, true to his tradition of
deeply caring about all points of view, gave everyone a chance to be
heard. It is this kind of inclusive management style that leads to the
sort of consensus that was developed that day. And before the day was
up, a new policy was announced:
a privilege, not a right.”
It was so
decreed. The employees, thoroughly chastened, asked for clarification on
just how the privilege/right distinction would be determined in specific
situations. Let’s say, for example, that one employee needs a plastic
fork to perform a self-triple-bypass, while another just wants to eat
hummus. Would one take precedence over the other? Who would decide?
empowered the Committee on Meeting Aftermath to prepare a report. And
the process hummed along with its usual efficiency, even in this moment
of challenge, when the Corporation came to the fork in the road. And
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