Life in the corporate lane

Corporate life often involves insanity. This is one man's tale.

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The following tale of corporate lunacy was recently posted to The Listerve by Dennis (really, just "Dennis"). Apparently the story got a good response on the list and Dennis told me "The feedback I'm getting vindicates every decision I've ever second-guessed in my life.  Which is to say, all of them."

I asked Dennis if this story is true and he claims that it's all almost true. I'm publishing the tale because I suspect this is the kind of corporate insanity that many of you will relate to.

If you have a your own story of corporate insanity that you'd be willing to share (anonymously or otherwise) drop me a note at feedback@gibbs.com; there may be a prize. Or not. Depends on how good the stories are.


TIM, the Manager

DENNIS, the Worker

DANIEL, the unrepentant sycophant

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Scene: Cubicle farm, just before lunch. 

TIM: Dennis, what's the status on this job? It's been in the queue for months.

DENNIS: Yes it has, Tim. It's a lower priority. 

TIM: Well, why is it not done? How long could it possibly take you to do this?

DENNIS: Like I started to say, the jobs I have been able to complete are all greater priorities. Are you taking them into consideration when you ask?

TIM: None of that matters here. I'm only asking about this job. 

DENNIS: All right then. It's not done, Tim, because we don't have nearly enough staff to keep up with all the work coming in. You know this.

TIM: Well, this is all Corporate will give us. We have this many man hours to work with.

DENNIS: Then obviously it's not all going to be tended. Some things will have to go neglected. The low-priority job before us, for examp—

TIM: Unacceptable. How do we support our customers with the resources we have?

DENNIS: Tim, it's a simple matter of arithmetic. We have this much work coming in. Each job at a bare minimum takes x amount of time. You might as well ask how to make two plus two equal five.

TIM: Well, our management dictates it, so how do we go about making two plus two equal five?

DENNIS: <rubs temples>

TIM: You know, all I'm asking for is a little cooperation. You talk about promotion during your yearly review, I need a little cooperation from you.

DENNIS [patiently]: Okay Tim. I am trying to explain the facts to you as they are.

TIM: You're a Negative Nancy. Try to think positive.

DENNIS: Doesn't matter how you think about it, Tim. Two plus two will only ever equal four. Acknowledging that reality shouldn't make me a pessimist.

TIM: [calls out] Daniel, could you come in here?

DANIEL: Sure, boss! What can I do ya for, amigo? Heh, heh, heh.

TIM: We're talking about our workload. How long would it take you to complete this job?

DENNIS: Tim, as I've said before, we have to priorit—

DANIEL: This job? This would take me three seconds.  Heh, heh, heh.

TIM: Dennis here hasn't done the job yet and he's had months!

DANIEL: Heh, heh, heh.

DENNIS: Listen! First of all—

TIM: Daniel, I bet you could you make two plus two equal five.

DANIEL: Well let me think. What if we stretched the twos? Wouldn't that help?

TIM: See? Now THAT's the kind of innovation we need around here! We could stretch the numbers! That would almost give us five.

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DENNIS: You ******* morons! Forty hours still equals forty hours! The only way to believe otherwise is to willfully deny reality. 

TIM: I choose to reject your negativity. I like the things I'm hearing from Daniel much more. Daniel, you're hereby promoted above Dennis.

DENNIS: If you want to behave responsibly, Tim, you will tell Corporate the truth. If they want five out of us, they'll have to give us more than two plus two.

TIM: Actually they want a hundred. We really have to make two plus two equal one hundred.

DENNIS: Even one as deluded as you can see that is impossible.

TIM: Nope! How do we make two plus two equal a hundred? Daniel?

DANIEL: I think what Dennis is trying to say is he thinks it’s impossible. But what if we morphed the twos into sevens? Won't that get us almost to a hundred? Heh, heh, heh.

TIM: YES!  Daniel you are promoted again!

DENNIS: I can't participate in this lunacy.

Exit Dennis, stage left.


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