The dreaded email arrives at 9:00 AM:
LAA Staff Team meeting at 10:00 AM in the big conference room aka THE MOTHERSHIP OF All CUBES
Before we begin, I need to object to the artificiality of using the word Team in a business setting.
Teams work well in baseball (triple-play), football (intercepted pass) or basketball (3-point play), but not for office workers walled up in CUBES. We are not a Team. We are Prisoners.
If only I could paraphrase Grouch Marx and send back this reply: I wouldn’t want to belong to a team that will have me as a member.
Nothing I can say or do will get me out of this meeting. Our personality-less CAO, The Flower in Search of a Fragrance, will be in attendance, just not corporeally.
She’ll be calling in from the Boston office and joining us via an amorphous transmitter pod setup in The Mothership. Those of us seated around the conference room table are bearing witness to the frustrations of Mr. Glitch, who is trying to patch her in.
I’m glad I am not Mr. Glitch. He’s having trouble getting the amorphous transmitter pod to work. Mr. Glitch is the IT guy on staff with the least amount of tools in his box. The guy you hang up on if you call with a computer problem and he picks up (Sorry! I dialed the wrong extension).
At long last, the familiar, colorless monotone rises out of the amorphous pod. The Flower in Search of a Fragrance has been virtually reeled in to the Mothership. Her message is predictably boilerplate and thankfully short. Everything is going her way and ours too, from her POV.
Her disembodied voice asks if anyone has a question. No one ever has, unless it involves PTO time.
Surprising to all, The Cackling Devourer of Potato Chips, she who excels at skirting confrontation by taking the passive-aggressive route, is the first to open her mouth. Incredibly, it’s not full of Pringles.
By gracing the powers-that-be with her presence at this meeting, she was expecting in return a catered-in breakfast or, at the very least, a box of donuts. The absence of free food has pissed her off.
She has a question! and lets fly a bitter, hunger-driven Can’t we all just get along? evangelical rant. LAA’s have to help one another, she says – inferring they do not, which automatically disses the two LAA’s streaming in remotely from the DC office, who are on full display on a pull-down video screen.
Seated at a table in a featureless, cube-size room, the DC-ers say nothing and stare at the floor. Passive-Aggression in full throttle, The Cackling Devourer invokes treacly cliches lifted from her self-help desktop calendar.
Live, Laugh, Love! There is a field…you are in it!
When she has finished, you can hear a pin drop. All eyes in The Mothership stare at the walls. Or roll.
To defuse the situation, I address the amorphous pod. I suggest a way of tracking the excessive amount of emails we all receive on a daily basis from a certain self-involved, a big baby attorney (and convicted smuggler), born into the genus Rattus.
Notably, not a squawk has come out of The Mother of All Hens, whose eyes urgently implore the amorphous pod for guidance.
When none comes, she flaps her flightless wings in a feeble gesture of enabling-smother specifically designed to reach out to her two favorite suck-ups, The Cackling Devourer of Potato Chips and Sneaky-Paranoid-Hoarder. The two who stick to one another like a barnacle on a battleship.
“I wear many hats,” says the voice of The Flower in Search of a Fragrance. Office-speak for I’m very busy and the party’s over, people.
The meeting adjourns. The amorphous pod disconnects. The Mother of All Hens pulls me aside and asks me to continue tracking the big baby’s emails and forward to her any missed emails.
Lesson learned: never suggest anything, anytime, anywhere, ever again in any meeting.
Later that afternoon, I depart my CUBE and head for an office on the other side of our half-of-a-football-field length of floor. I encounter a road block.
The Cackling Devourer of Potato Chips and Sneaky-Paranoid-Hoarder are walking two-abreast, at a snail’s pace, down the long stretch of the commonly shared corridor, engrossed in gossip. The corridor is the only route to the nether regions of our floor. A foot of air space separates them. I am approaching from behind.
They are impossible to pass, like a family hand-holding tourists strolling down Fifth Avenue or a roller derby jam.
I pull over to the far left of Sneaky-Paranoid-Hoarder, who is in the fast lane, and whisper, “Excuse me.” She jumps, as if a gun is pointed at her back. She moves slightly to the right.
As I weave around her, I overhear The Cackling Devourer of Potato Chips whisper, “Blah blah…THAT one!”
She is referring to me. Umm, and how is this any different from the girl’s locker room in high school?
Their idiotic behavior has presented me with the perfect opportunity to ghost them. To banish them from my field of vision. Even if The Cackling Chips’ CUBE is right next to mine and Sneaky-Paranoid’s is bringing up the rear, who cares?
Ghosting people is a behavioral trait born of our socially-networked age that I have embraced. It is the new and improved silent treatment of my childhood. Merely contemplating the idea of ghosting them has already brought me inner peace.
Back in my CUBE, the AirPods are in; decisions have been made. I wallow in the crystal clear dome of my own poltergeist-ian space.
I conjure the two of them being carted away as space junk in an alien Mothership and transported to a satellite office in a land far, far away.
An Arctic land where CUBES of ICE will wall them in for eternity.