Forget work … have a meeting!
“Well, I’m outta here,” I announced to husband-head the other night, grabbing my purse and my car keys. “I’ll probably be late, so don’t wait up.”Husband-head raised an eyebrow.”Where are you going now?” he asked, his eyes narrowing. “You went out last night, too.””To a meeting,” I said simply. “I have another one tonight.”Husband-head wasn’t sure he was buying it.”You’re always going to meetings, or so you say,” he said suspiciously. “Do you belong to some clandestine cult that I don’t know about? Or is there a problem in our marriage that we need to discuss?”Nope. But he was right. It seems that I’ve become a professional meeting-goer, with meetings in the morning, in the afternoon and in the evening. Which then, of course, leaves little time to get any actual work done.”I thought you were a reporter,” husband-head pressed. “How can you write anything if you’re constantly in meetings?””I used to think I was, too,” I agreed. “But apparently the goal now is to see how many meetings we can attend in a month before we want to poke our eye out with a pen …”There are council meetings, planning and zoning meetings, school board meetings, special meetings, chamber meetings, citizens meetings and, on top of it all, staff meetings once or twice a week.Staff meetings are cool because you basically spend several hours TALKING about all the work you need to get done, although there’s really no time to actually GET any work done by the time the meeting is over. And sometimes there are meetings simply to plan when the next meeting will be …I complained to my best friend, Marianne, recently about all the meetings I had to attend, and she sympathized wholeheartedly.”I know,” she said. “Our company has meetings to motivate us to sell more, when we could be out selling more instead of sitting at the stupid meeting!”Many times, the meetings will have a hook to try to get you excited to attend. The most famous lure being the four words that attempt to make the meeting look like it will actually be a rip-roaring good time.”Refreshments will be served.”The food is typically a crudite platter filled with an assortment of vegetables and a dip. And while it is appreciated that employers are thoughtful enough to provide such healthy fare, in reality, everyone would much rather have a beer.Sometimes the meeting will go on for so long – and we should note here that a normal person’s attention span tends to wane after about 5 or 6 hours – the employees are forced to do something to keep themselves awake without being glaringly obvious by using the toothpicks from the crudite platter to hold their eyelids open.At a recent staff meeting, I amused myself by picking out several vegetables from the platter and making a happy face on my paper plate with two olives for the eyes, a broccoli nose and a carrot mouth. I used the dip to make the nose look runny …I passed the plate over to the photographer on my left.She smiled discreetly and then, because she likes her job and wants to keep it, looked away and pretended to be interested in the meeting.Next I drew a tic-tac-toe board on my notebook and slid it over to the person on my right, marking an “X” in one of the squares. The person’s eyes got real wide, and he quickly turned away as if fearful to be associated with me. Nobody would play hangman, either.At the end of the meeting, in which we were basically told how much more work we needed to accomplish, we all left looking similar to Jack Nicholson’s character in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” after he had his frontal lobotomy …The next evening when husband-head came home from work, he was surprised to see me relaxing in front of the television.”Don’t you have a meeting to go to tonight?” he asked curiously.”No, not for the next few days, thank God,” I assured him.Or so I thought until the next morning when I turned on the computer and received an e-mail from work announcing a mandatory staff meeting the next day.”Refreshments will be served.”Heidi Rice is a Rifle correspondent for the Post Independent. Her column runs every Friday. Visit her Web site at http://www.heidirice.com.
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