Friday, February 15, 2013

Mandatory Meeting

It was a Mandatory Meeting. Everyone  came in and sat in the conference room waiting for lunch. Lou always promised lunch at the end of the mandatory meetings. There were the usual threats. People were being sloppy. People were costing the company money. We all just sat there and read our phones and Kindle Fires. You could look pretty business like reading your phone or Kindle because it looked like you might be handling an important email or even taking notes if you had one of those leather kindle covers.

Me. I just read my Kindle on my knee. Usually the New York Times or sometimes I just surfed around and listened to Lou's voice drone on. And nothing happened normally. The normal twenty first century threats of termination. The normal American kick the dog mentality of management. We had all heard it a million times but David was new and he hadn't  heard it before. Maybe that's why he spoke up.

I don't think it's right to threaten people with termination he said.
We all looked up from our phones and Kindles and IPads and Iphones. Somebody had violated the rule. Thou shall not prolong the meeting. You don't say anything so the meeting can go as fast as possible. Talking brought on discussion. Questions brought on discussing. Discussion prolonged the meeting and that gave Lou a reason to talk even longer. It prolonged the waiting for the crappy pizza they ordered but was free. But here was David throwing down the gauntlet.

What do you mean? Lou asked.
David was from Argentina and spoke Spanish and could pull in a lot of Mexicans. He faced Lou who looked tired and rumor was he was a heart attack waiting to happen. He still believed in the Super Life. None of us believed in the Super Life after the crash.
I mean David continued. It is not right for you to threaten people with losing their jobs. In fact I think it is barbaric and that is what is wrong with this country. Management still thinks that firing people is the way to profits and productivity. This management style has been shown not to work and one of the reasons we are in our current recession, Lou.

We all stared at David in wonder. Everyone in the room had been dreaming about saying that for years. We had fantasies of telling Lou off but we wanted the check and never did. And here was David who had just started two weeks ago saying exactly that. Lou's face had turned to a deep purplish red. He looked like a hot pepper about to pop.
And what would you do David?
Well he said crossing his legs. I would point out areas people can improve and motivate them by positive reinforcement.
Lou stared at him then nodded very slowly.
Thank you David. I will take that under consideration.

And the meeting ended and we were all amazed. David had not been zapped or shot by Lou. He had not been fired. After the meeting in the pizza room we all told David we agreed with him. He ate a lot of  pizza and said there was no reason to treat people like that. Larry stuck his head in the pizza room.
David. Could I have a word with you?
Sure Lou he said winking at us.
We all exchanged glances. The same way we did when David came out  and picked up a box out of the stockroom and loaded up his desk and walked out the door. The next mandatory meeting was like all the rest. Nobody said shit

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