Friday, September 30, 2005

Minutes from the Annual Staff Meeting

Yesterday, the staff of our company had what we lovingly refer to as an "off-campus meeting". We had to meet in the auditorium of another organization for this meeting, the importance of which is still totally unclear to me.
It was held ten blocks downtown from our office, which would normally be a lovely walk except that it was raining and windy and I had no umbrella and was wearing flip-flops and had to latch onto Phil and Ilana and beg them to be my umbrella buddies.
I think everyone in the company was a little surly to begin with because we were deliberately told to meet there after lunch so they wouldn't have to feed us. Our department arrives and goes through the metal detectors (un-named place where we were meeting is religious and high-security) and right away I beep. They take me aside and run the hand-scanner-gun-item over me and it beeps at my crotch. "Got anything in there?" the man asks. Let's pause there for just a second. Got anything in my crotch?? Really? And if I did, would I tell him?
We go into the auditorium and I'm sort of surprised because our staff meetings are usually in these big halls with all of us at round tables, and this is more like a screening room with a podium on stage in front of the screen. We're early, but already the last seven-eight rows are full so we take seats in the first open row and the place fills up with a few more rows of people. So at this point, there are about twelve rows in the back full of people and the ten rows in front are COMPLETELY empty. The woman from HR gets up and asks if people will please move to the front. No response. The executive director then gets up and makes the same request. Nothing. He then asks specifically for the last five rows of people to get up and move. Still nothing. At this point it's pretty embarrassing and feels like I'm at a high school assembly. He is so surprised that no one is reacting that he asks if we can hear him. We can. Then he makes a joke about it being too bad that no one moved because those who did would have been given half a day off. Not ONE laugh! It was awesome.
To understand the next part of what happened at the meeting, I have to explain that there's this woman who works in another department and makes a crazy throat-clearing noise that can be heard many, many cubicles away. Picture "AH HUH HUH" but low and loud. As the director starts speaking, she immediately starts: AH HUH HUH! This is a sound that we enjoy imitating so much that it never fails to make us lose our shit. We weren't the only department who was fighting not to lose it, lemme tell ya.
The first speaker was there to talk about sexual harassment, discrimination, etc. Two hundred people are staring blankly at him, so much so that he makes a joke about "dying up here". He then reads the handbook out loud and uses lot of lines like: "Sexual jokes. Funny? Perhaps. But not in the workplace." He turned out to be the most entertaining part of the next three hours, where the director and CEO took turns giving random power-point presentations. I totally felt like I was in some sort of office comedy where they read aloud the handbook and actually used phrases like "a cohesive macro approach".
Afterwards, Phil and I went out for drinks to dull the pain. AH HUH HUH!

3 comments:

Phil said...

At least you didn't have to sit through the managers' sexual harrassment and discrimination lecture. That's the one where the guy said, in relation to sexual discrimination suits, "Everybody's got an axe to grind". And talked about transgender discrimination in order to end the meeting "on a lighter note."

Anyway, hope you don't get dooced. Hope I don't get dooced.

Emil said...

I have to say that I did enjoy the last part of the program, with the maps and stuff. Maybe I'm a dork but I kinda thought it was fascinating.

New Girl said...

i am still laughing outloud about the throat clearing. UH HUH HUH HUH. combine my general meeting anxiety with being really immature and what you get is uber-hyper new girl at the staff meeting. everything and anything was making me giggle, or alternatively, wanting to get up, do something inappropriate,then leave.