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Work Meeting Adventure - cellophane
the story of an invisible girl
Work Meeting Adventure
I had one of those silly "company fluff" meetings today at work. You know, the kind where the make all the employees gather in a room and they tell you about what everyone else is up to, what the managers are up to, how the company's doing, stuff like that.

You know, fluff. It's good to know what's going on, but it always takes too long, and it's always at a time when you have tons of Real Work you really ought to be doing. It's not like they pushed our deadlines back three hours to make up for the lost afternoon. Worse yet, it was off-site, making it even more inconvenient and disruptive.

Still, I was told it was mandatory, so at 2:20 I packed up my laptop, put on my coat and sunglasses, and headed out the door. "You are leaving for the day?" asked Juicy. He's a contractor; contractors were lucky enough to be excused.

"No, just a stupid company meeting. I'm bringing my laptop in case it's possible for me to get a little bit of work done while it's going on."

It was a mile up the road, in a building I'd never been to before. Finding the building wasn't too hard, but finding a parking space was harder. Eventually I made it into the building, and looked around.

I was supposed to be going to suite 550. It was like a ghost building -- there was nobody in view anywhere. I figured that was likely to be on the fifth floor, so I approached the elevators. One was standing wide open, unmoving. I pushed the "up" button, and nothing happened. The light didn't come on, no doors opened up, and the single open elevator remained dark and uninviting. I looked around, and pushed the button a few more times. No sign of life.

I figured that the open elevator was likely locked for service. I didn't check, and I suppose I should have, but I don't like elevators anyway. I prefer to walk; some days it's the only exercise I get. It was only the fifth floor, so I looked for a staircase.

Reading the fire exit sign and finding stairs without too much trouble, I hiked up to the fifth floor. When I got there, the door was locked. Locked?! Crazy. So I walked back down to the first floor, and re-approached the elevators. This time they looked more normal: all doors closed, and when I pushed the button it lit up. Eventually an elevator opened its doors for me.

I went back to the fifth floor and got off the elevator. There were several locked doors, still no people. Had I missed a tornado drill or something? There were signs that said I should check in on the sixth floor to access a company I'd never heard of. Not the company I worked for, and not a single sign mentioned suite 550.

I took the elevator back down to the first floor once again, and started looking around. I found a map of the building, which turned out to have TWO "towers", North and South. Can you call a six-story building a tower? Well they did.

Turns out, I was in the South tower, and only the North tower had a suite 550. Studying the map some more, I finally found a jagged passageway into the North tower. There were still no people anywhere, but I followed the hallway to the other part of the building.

There in the North wing, I found yet another elevator. Having learned my lesson, I didn't try the stairs this time. I boarded the elevator, and saw my first human being I'd seen in the whole darn building! We smiled polite business smiles at one another, and awkwardly realized we were going to the same floor.

When we got off the elevator, she veered off to the left. In front and to my right, I FINALLY saw suite 550! Hooray!

However, when I walked in, the place was as empty as the rest of the building had been. Where the hell was everyone? There was a receptionist window, but nobody recepting. There was a little sign which said I was supposed to look up the extension of the person I was there to see in the provided notebook, then call him/her.

Of course, I didn't know who I was there to see. I was just there for a stupid meeting I didn't want to attend, even though I'd just wasted the past 20 minutes of my life trying to find the damn thing!

I walked out of the suite and futilely walked around the fifth floor, hoping to find an open meeting room on the other side of the "tower". No such luck. By now I was overheated and irritated beyond belief. Waaay too much running around was required for this ridiculous fluff meeting! I pulled off my winter coat, and tried one final time to access suite 550.

As I opened the door, the elevator dinged. I turned around, and spotted my second human being in the building. A coworker of mine! Hooray!

I held the door open for her. She joined me, and magically the weird parallel universe I'd been hopelessly wandering through disappeared. We walked in, and a receptionist was at the window. She let us in and directed us to a large room. The room was full of people I knew, and the meeting had already started. I flopped into a seat, relieved.

I commented as an excuse for my tardiness, "This place was hard to find!"

"Yeah," somebody agreed, "it's like a test to see if you deserve to be part of the company, or something."

Good, at least I wasn't the only one who had trouble. The rest of the meeting proceeded uneventfully and tediously. Fortunately I was able to pull out my laptop and get a little bit of work done.

After it ended, on leaving the building, I realized I was missing my sunglasses. Oh no! By then I was almost willing to abandon them to the cause, fearing I'd never find my way back to that room again on my own. But I am really fond of my cool Movie Star Sunglasses, so I bravely navigated back through the obstacle course to the meeting. Somewhat to my surprise, it wasn't that hard.

I found my sunglasses on the floor, put them on, and beat a hasty retreat out of that awful place!


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From: (Anonymous) Date: December 8th, 2005 01:35 am (UTC) (Link)
Luckily, there's a long and honored tradition of skipping the "mandatory" company meetings where I work. We have about 700 employees, and I doubt if they get more than about 250 at the meetings. My boss's boss (company director) once told me it's a good idea to use the polling tool and SAY that you'll be at every meeting. Nobody takes attendance, but the "will you attend" poll (which is ostensibly used to order enough food) does have a name associated with the yes/no answer. And the secretary that handles ordering the food knows how many people lie every month, so that's not a problem. Unless they actually start showing up, then there'll be hunger.
marsgov From: marsgov Date: December 8th, 2005 03:49 am (UTC) (Link)
(1) When I was at Bell Labs, I eventually figured out I could go to a different building in the complex during meetings, and no one cared. Or hide in the library.

(2) "Cool Movie Star Sunglasses?" OK, there's your HNT photo... for all of us who are curious about what they look like. And, for extra points, they aren't required to be on your face in the photo...
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