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D.F. Krause
  D.F.'s Column Archive
June 14, 2006
The Language of the Corporate Hulk

There is, in my town, a thing called the University Club, which lives at the top of a building where there is most certainly no university. (Sort of like the “Corporate Center” at Bug Zapper State.) This building, rather, is home of a venerable bank and a venerable law firm.


I am not a member of the University Club. Woody Allen’s statement, that he would never belong to any club that would have him as a member, also applies to me. But I was recently invited to lunch there by someone who obviously had no idea what she was getting into.


As the 10-story elevator ride reached Floor 4, in walked two rather corporatistic-looking women, who pressed the button for Floor 9. They could have been from the bank or the law firm – it hardly mattered – but no sooner did they step in to the elevator than the following thought entered my mind:


Before this elevator ride ends, I will hear at least two corporate clichés.


I put my right hand behind my back.


“Are you going to the Wellness Symposium?” said Woman One.


I extended my right index finger. That’s one.


“No,” said Woman Two. “I have to go to the Diversity Luncheon.”




The elevator arrived at Floor 9, the two Corporatistic Women departed to prepare for the Wellness Symposium and the Diversity Luncheon, and I started wondering if they serve anything good for lunch at the University Club where there is no university.


I also started wondering if they would, at some point during the day, get around to discussing how to sell more banking, or lawyering, or performing same, or whatever it is that they do.


Now, I’m all for wellness. Just think how crappy everything would be without it. And I’m all for diversity. I get tired of most people in about the time it takes to ride an elevator with them – so I constantly need a fresh supply.


I’m also behind “sustainability,” because I hate when singers can’t hold those long notes. And I applaud any company that decides to “go green,” because traditional corporate blue logos are extremely passé.


Somehow I doubt that my elevator-riding companions talk like this when they go home at night to their husbands, their children, their cats or their “life companions” as the case may be. They probably walk in the door and, take off their blazers and shout to whomever is within earshot, “Cheetos! Now!”


It’s sort of like when the Hulk starts his reverse-metamorphosis back to Dr. David Banner. You can only function as a corporate-speaking automaton so long before your brain returns to human mode and things seem normal again. Except it occurs to you that you weren’t wearing torn up purple pants before . . .


The older and more establishment-oriented the company, the more likely you will find this odd variation on the Tower of Babel phenomenon. The CEOs of the establishment businesses in any town have all known each other for years, played golf together, served on the same community boards, been solicited by the same nonprofits – their lexicon develops as distinctively as that of teens on


In the end, this probably hurts nothing, and it gives snarky non-establishment types something to amuse themselves with. I just hope my two elevator friends found some time that day to actually get some work done, because somewhere else in town there is probably a smaller bank or a smaller law firm that doesn’t speak the language of the Corporate Hulk, but understands the meaning of steal your clients.


And clients are something you might need to hang onto, unless my friends can get someone to pay them for being well and diverse.


© 2006 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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