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 email@example.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
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.
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.