In my job, I am often summoned into very important, high powered meetings at short notice. It doesn’t matter what I am doing, who I am doing it with or where I am, I simply have to make my apologies and leave.
Last week, a client took this approach to conducting business to extremes. I was standing at the urinals, fondly remembering previous posts on manners and officious, distracting and confusing corporate directives.
As I attended to business, a gentleman in a dark suit, no tie (yes, you’ve guessed it - ‘Dress Down Friday’) and wearing a rather incongruous pair of white trainers, came into the adjacent stand.
‘Hi, David. Listen - just a quickie. I just want to check that we’ve covered all bases before the call at 3:30’
I looked down. Thankfully, I hadn’t covered all bases and everything had landed in the urinal. If only she could have witnessed this, Norma Jeane would have been so proud.
‘OK Dave. That sounds cool but Debenture will be on the call so I just need to check we are all aligned.’
I looked down. We weren’t really aligned that well. Subconsciously, uncomfortable at my noisy, immediate neighbour, I had slightly turned away. Acceding to his plea for corporate alignment and strategic business partnerships, I re-aligned myself by facing forward.
‘Listen David - I don’t think your team really appreciate the enormity of the matter in hand here.’
I snatched a surreptitious glance sideways - above average perhaps - certainly not enormous but then Norma Jeane does say that men do tend to exaggerate a little.
‘David - look if we don’t get any joy in the next 25 minutes, we are going to have to escalate this to the very highest levels.’
Well, I would probably describe what I had just experienced as ‘relief’ rather than ‘joy’.
Pause. Bliss. Peace at last.
‘David - are you still there ? Speak up. The reception is this place is appalling - it’s as if I am calling from a toilet. Absolutely. Unfortunately, the worst case scenario does mean dragging Anthony into this.’
What did this idle threat mean ? Was the mysterious ‘Anthony’ was going to be summoned from cubicle #3 to join us in a Holy Triumvarate ?
‘Hey Dave - I fully understand your position but I am going to have to drop off the call now.’
With that, the important man in the suit and white trainers, equipped with the Borg headset, ended the call, shook hands with the unemployed, pulled his zipper up and left the Gents urinals.