You know me. I’m not one to even pay attention to this kind of thing unless it’s obvious, I’ve been informed via a memo from Corporate, the office gossip bulletin board has at least three posts about it, and my secretary tells me the entire story in one-syllable words. But it’s come to my attention that there’s something up with Kevin.
I’ll explain. He’s apparently not getting in at 7:00 or leaving after 6:00 anymore. He’s not volunteering for the … less glamorous jobs we have here at Branch 7. And for sure he’s not greeting us with the same chipper, go-get-em attitude he’s become famous for. And by famous I mean reviled, of course. Still with all that we’ve done for that young man, I’m concerned for his level of company alignment. I mean that’s why we have the intern program at all — so we can bring on young, fresh-faced go-getters with hearts full of ambition and drive to change the world and show ’em what business is really like! If they didn’t want to know what it was like to be part of a successful business, they should have gone and worked for Goldman-Sachs or something!
But the truth is we’re getting more than our money’s worth out of Kevin, so we need to look into what’s wrong. We can’t go losing one of our most valuable interns (one of our two interns to be entirely accurate) because of anything we can do something about. And though this is normally an HR matter, I’ve recently been asked by corporate not to give any new HR-related work to Jan, our Director of HR. I didn’t really read that memo — the gist of it was that I needed to treat this matter with an unusual level of concern. So I’m gonna have one of our other go-getters start mentoring him, to see if we can salvage the boy.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m about to make Phil’s day really unpleasant.
Everyone knows I can’t cook. So instead of eating out all the time, I promised my boyfriend that I’d treat him to some home-cooking. I wanted to start with a Boston cream pie recipe, I knew it’d be too messy. Instead, I called his mom and got one of their family recipes. She was really nice to me and told me that her son loved one particular thing that he’d enjoyed for a long time.
“Honey,” she told me confidentially, “You really should smoke his sausage.”
I was perplexed, because I’d been handling his sausage ever since our first date. Sometimes I’d pan-fry it, sometimes I’d boil it, sometimes simmered in a light sauce. But this was a new angle. His mom bought me a smoker and showed me how to use it.
“Careful with the smoke,” she warned me, as I was trying it myself for the first time. “You don’t want it too thick or else it won’t be even all the way around.” After a few minutes of her watching me (and evern showing me by smoking a few herself), she declared me a pro and said that she’d let me smoke her son’s sausage any time.
“In fact,” she said, “My husband’s been having me smoke his sausage for years. Some people say variety is the spice of life, but maybe those folks never had a sausage smoked the way I do. It’s pretty special.”
I had to agree with her. Wouldn’t you?
As it turns out, it’s good that I’m in finance, because money is the root of all my problems. At work, anyway. Seems that with our recent financial windfall, efforts to figure out how to spend that money and the inability of anyone in charge to keep a secret, it’s now completely common knowledge that we’re rolling in cash and that if someone can come up with a great way to spend it before the folks at Doogleheimer & Schmitt Corporate do, they’ll get their wish.
So I ask you, do I look like a genie in a bottle? No, I didn’t think so.
As a result of this, I’ve had to endure a seemingly endless parade of supplicants at my doorstep, requesting some of the company’s munificence. Of course, I’m under strict orders not to give any out, so I’ve had to say “no” an awful lot lately. In fact, I’ve become a kind of gatekeeper for the company’s hoard, a goalie for the gold, a master of the moolah. Whatever.
But saying “no” to each and every one of my colleagues who’s asked for money for his or her meaningless pet project was starting to get me down. And that’s when I decided to perfect the art of saying “no” — to make it so subtle yet effective that my co-workers are actually excited not to get any money from me. Let me share with you some of my most prized conversation-enders:
- “Perhaps not today. Try again tomorrow though, if you like.”
- “That’s a great idea. I’ll have to consider it alongside the many other outstanding requests I’ve heard already this morning!”
- “You know I’d love to promise you that money, but I’d hate even more to let you down.”
- “I could, but then Phil would just be so jealous and upset. I’m sure that’s not what you want to have happen.”
- “That’s an awesome idea, but if we did, the sun would implode and consume the earth in a fiery Armageddon. I’m pretty sure I’d get in a lot of trouble if that happened.”
See how easy that is? Feel free to practice on your friends and family when they ask for things you don’t want to give them, like a small loan or a kidney. Good luck.
I know, you missed the first two volumes, but this is the most relevant part of this one. For you though, I’ll summarize Things I Hate, volumes 1 & 2: fake eyelashes, caffeine-free anything, pinochle, every single work Steven Sondheim wrote after Sunday in the Park with George, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and Jane (three times). Anyway, Ned has us working like crazy, and all because he can’t seem to find his backbone and tell Tom “no” once in a while. I mean, I had just gotten through telling him about how we were stretched too thin to take on any new work, and in fact we were looking at having to postpone two major projects already because of funding delays in the first quarter.
“So what i hear you saying is that we’re encountering some minor difficulties that will sort themselves out in time,” he said back to me.
“That’s not it at all. The problems won’t sort themselves out until we get more help or shed some work.”
“Got it. So I’ll just let Tom know that we’ll have that catalog rewrite ready a week early.”
“No, the catalog won’t get done at all unless we stop work on your underground zombie-proof bunker in the undisclosed location.”
“Hm. Well, we can’t delay that. How about I just tell Tom that we’ll have the catalog rewritten a week late, instead?”
This went on for about half-an-hour. Let’s just say that by the end we had no more clarity about what we were supposed to be working on, whose work was highest priority, or how we were going to tackle the resource shortfall. As I turned to walk away, I overheard Ned as he walked into Tom’s office.
“Hey Tom, great news! We’re going to get the catalog done just two weeks delayed, but we’ll make that time up on the customer information survey you said would be nice to do.”
I shook my head. This kindof stuff is enough to drive a man to drink. But not to drink a daiquiri — that’s a late summer thing only. I hate mixed drinks out-of-season …
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