This week has been a particularly harrowing one for me. And it can all be attributed to one reason: meetings.
In my real job in my real life, I am not nearly important enough to justify going to too terribly many meetings. I can usually get away with attending only one incredibly useless meeting every two weeks, if that. But for some reason this week was a perfect storm of wastefulness because I’ve packed in enough doodling, playing with my watch, sending inappropriate text messages, and trying to sneak peeks at my co-worker’s cleavage while someone else getting paid more than me talks endlessly about something that will never affect me anytime this millennium, but thankfully providing me with about a ream of paper’s worth of information, almost two pages of which I will utilize in my job.
It’s hard to really say too much more about meetings that anyone doesn’t already know. Somehow, corporate America has created an entire industry, which includes but is not limited to, books on how to hold more efficient meetings to software designed to help more efficiently arrange them, all to get ten minutes of legitimately useful information and stretching it out for an hour yet somehow considering this to be the epitome of free-market efficiency. Of course, the meeting is not an exclusively American invention; no doubt they slowly evolved from our European ancestors, where meetings in the local guild workshops were routinely held, though, to be fair, this was mostly a way to determine which one of the workers was going to get to eat that day and how often the soul-crushing beatings were going to be administered.
Well, being in so many meetings this week, I had plenty of time to think about ways to make fun of meetings, so I’m presenting below a list of the common personalities one will find at the standard American meeting.
That Guy Who Used To Work For This Awesome Company
This is the individual who, regardless of the topic, will compare it to how things used to be run in this awesome company he used to work for but no longer does for some invisible reason. When he worked at Standard Banana, for example, they’d get a 250% efficiency bump every time they gave out a sparkly key chain. Or Friday afternoons used to be da bomb back at National Synergy because some dude dropped off a chest full of ice and Yuengling for everyone to enjoy. The implicit intention of such suggestions is that because they worked so well in his former Valhalla, they would work gangbusters here, even though this is an open shop and doesn’t employ third-world adolescents.
Sample Quote: “When I worked for American Tin and Sand, they used to let us turn our radios up to .4 decibels on Fridays and on the day before a federal holiday. It was AWESOME!”
How to Neutralize: Tell him his ex-wife works at his old company now.
The Guy Who Always Manages To Come Up With A Counter Example To Everything That Is Only Vaguely Related To What Was Just Said
This person walked into the room with his head crammed full of righteous indignation, files mental folders in his head full of statements to make. And if nothing related is said to bring them up, then he’ll force them in an arbitrarily unnecessary way. He came to the meeting to make a point, regardless of whether it’s the right point or not. It’s very close to the actualization of an internet forum, only with more smarm and less chance of the word “asshat” being used.
Sample Quote: “Your report said that there would be no more revisions to the regulatory code this year, but you just said that IT was coming to reinstall the software next weekend. What are we supposed to believe?”
How to Neutralize: Ask him about his mother.
The Woman Whose Only Concern Is That She Will Be Able To Make It To Her Daughter’s Soccer Practice On Tuesday
This is the co-worker who, upon any new change being implemented in the workplace, will immediately distill its contents to determine if this will affect her ability to attend her child’s sports practice. “I have to be home by six on Tuesdays!” she’ll remind everyone every Monday and Tuesday and, in all probability, Wednesday through Sunday, too. And when little Robert is old enough for slow-pitch softball, well, you might as well chain the doors shut and burn the place down.
Sample Quote: “If this new Phase III Sales Website overhaul causes me to be even one minute late for the practice run, I will bitch about everything until the day I die.”
How to Neutralize: Torn ACL.
The Quiet Guy Who Doesn’t Say Anything All Meeting Until The Very End, When He Pulls Out The Verbal Equivalent of the H-Bomb
He’s older, probably has a comb-over and a tie that matches your grandfather’s couch. He rubs his temples and grimaces and shifts his weight around and finally when everyone is about ready to get up and leave he sternly bellows some self-aggrandizing comment. While they probably have the experience and astuteness to make some sort of positive contribution, they’re just use it to express their discontent with the world. For the record, before anyone is smart enough to point it out, this is me, only perhaps without the comb-over and not quite as much astuteness.
Sample Quote: “It will never work, and so help me Hannah, I will destroy anyone in my path who will make me change. I am going to go to my desk now and pout.”
How to Neutralize: Decaf.
Some Old Windbag That Wants To Talk About Anything Except What Is On The Poorly-Defined Agenda
One doesn’t want to heap too terribly much blame on this person, because pretty much no one wants to talk about what’s on the agenda, either. But this person, instead of converting a meeting from a deadly boring snorefest to a halfway decent way to pass the time, instead infuses the room with her own sense of dullness and perfunctory nothingness. She will be wearing a sweater with an animal or a flower on it, even in August.
Sample quote: “Your report on the profit projections for the third quarter reminds me of something my cat did this morning.”
How to Neutralize: Counter with your own stories about prison.
The Person Who Drafted That Poorly-Defined Agenda
Agendas suck, because they are ultimately about nothing except the self-puffery of the person who called the meeting in the first place. On the other hand, they’re a necessary evil because it at the very least tells you about how far along you are until the meeting ends. And they couldn’t take a grammatically correct sentence if it meant it depended on their advancement in the company. Oh, wait. That apparently doesn’t matter, since a person’s advancement in the company id dependent on their ability to organize meetings. Of course, the person with the agenda is also the one running the show, and they’re the ones who put you in this position in the first place. So screw ‘em.
Sample Quote: “Listen to me, or your fired. And even though I’m speaking, I said ‘your,’ not ‘you’re.’”
How to Neutralize: Retire.