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November 10, 2008

Death, or Missing the 4:30 Meeting? Not as Obvious As You Think!


I only need Lacey for one thing. She prevents me from running the company into the ground. And I don’t just mean the surface of the ground. Have you ever heard of the abyss – the place where they’re going to cast all the unredeemed souls at the end of time? That’s where the company would end up if I were left to my own devices and I didn’t have Lacey around.


So I try to make sure I don’t abuse her, lest she take a job working for some sane CEO. As such, it got my attention when I noticed her sitting at her desk the other day with her nose red, her eyes scratchy and watery and her general appearance roughly fitting the description of death warmed over.


“You look awful,” I said in my inimitably charming way.


“I feel like crap,” she said.


“Why are you here?” I wondered, since I am of course a caring and compassionate CEO.


“D.F.,” she said, “I read your column about sick days. If you’re going to expect me to sit home staring at my laptop anyway, I might as well be here. Why make my kids sick when I can be making my co-workers sick?”


“Good point,” I said. “Your co-workers deserve to be sick. But just do me a favor and let it happen naturally. Don’t go up and tongue-kiss Roger.”


That’s when she threw an X-acto knife at me. Don’t worry. Tourniquets stop bleeding, and I still have one eye.


But as it turns out, this was not the real reason she insisted on coming to work in such a condition. It was all about the 4:30 meeting.


“If I miss the 4:30 meeting,” she said, “that will not be good.”


“It would be good for you,” I said. “Any time you can get out of a meeting, that’s good.”


She shook her head.


“D.F., you’re an idiot,” she said.


“Hey!” I said. “You’re fired!”


“Shut up, I am not,” she said. “Look, if I’m not in that meeting, then Melanie will walk all over this project, or as she would say, she will ‘take ownership.’ Do you know what will happen if Melanie ‘takes ownership’ of the project?”


I thought about that. Yes, I did know what would happen if Melanie “took ownership” of the project. First, Melanie would start re-assigning everyone on the project team, just because she could. Then she would call the client to be sure the client knew that she, not Lacey, was “taking the ball and running with it” – a piece of information she would then reiterate via six or seven e-mails.


“So you’re basically risking death to keep Melanie from horning in on your project,” I said.


“You don’t seriously think death would be worse than that, do you?” Lacey asked.


“No,” I said, “but I might know an alternative. Why don’t I just take the meeting for you? I’ll take copious notes and make sure everyone knows I’ll be filling you in and no one else. You know I can take good notes, and no one will think I’m going to take ownership of the project.”


Hey. Even Lacey can’t deny I take good notes. I used to write movie reviews before my syndicate gave the slot to some chick named Rachel Marsden!


“D.F., I know you can take good notes,” Lacey said in between wheezes and hacks. “But you don’t understand the notes. You just fire away at the keyboard like it’s an AK-47, taking down every word everyone says. But when you look at it later, you don’t have the slightest idea what any of it means. And you’re so busy taking dictation, you’re not really listening. That means you won’t be able to explain it to me, and later when Melanie claims a bunch of stuff happened at the meeting that really didn’t, you’ll have no idea.”


With that, she struggled out of her chair to go make herself some hot tea.


She had just told me she’s working while sick to attend a meeting because she thinks I’m too big an idiot to cover for her. Why I oughta . . . give her a raise. I won’t. But I ought to.


© 2008 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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