Saturday, October 9, 2010

Beating the meeting bore... Yes. It's possible.

Few things provoke my unbridled irritation like marathon-meetings. You know, the ones where they could have sent all the information in an email, that you could have promptly filed into the “Trash” folder- total time spent on this: 8 seconds (8 minutes if you have Gmail because that site is poorly labeled...). Instead, the powers-that-be decide to have a meeting, during which countless numbers of minutes are spent on meaningless agenda items.
Inevitably within these settings, are people who enjoy meetings. They like to play meeting-monopoly. (i.e- the fruitless game, with fake progress, that never ends. Ever.)  During the last meeting I attended, someone went off on an aside about how their dog was the best dog, because it made very human-like facial expressions. Meanwhile I developed a bald patch from neurotically ripping my hairs out in an attempt to keep from lurching across the table and pinching their windpipe.
Not everyone prolongs meetings by going off on asides, however. Some simply run word-marathons. They take one idea and repeat it 26 times at slightly different paces.
“You know, I’d like to weigh in on this issue if I could. Just quickly offer up an opinion... the old two-cents worth. A little idea I’ve been sitting on here, nothing life-changing really, just a thought. A miniscule thought, been pondering on it for awhile now. And let me just qualify this, by asserting that by no means do I think this thought is revolutionary. Let’s not re-create the wheel here, but anyways I’m straying off subject. Back to my point I’d just like to reiterate that this idea is nothing novel. So,  let me just start by saying that....”
And then the word-binger takes 18 minutes to reveal that the amount of information they actually communicated could have been written on the back of a stamp.
During meetings, I often take time to think of things I’d rather be doing than being in a meeting. Now, within the list is not things like, “Run along the beach and look coyly  surprised when a wave touches me!” That kind of brainstorming is reserved for the uninformed people at Kotex. Instead, I have to think of things that seem bad, but when compared to meetings, become refreshingly appealing. So, here are the Top Five:
1. Get frisked again by “Wendy” from airport security. Technically she was a woman, but the he-male could have palmed a watermelon. Also, she seemed a little too interested in frisking the belt area. Wendy, I don’t have a bomb. And if I did, I would detonate it RIGHT NOW. So kindly back up gargantuwoman.
2. Feign interest while my department head tells me how her dog reacted to the stocking she got it for Christmas.
“Oh he grabbed the snausages right out of it? Ah-ho-ho-ho what a RIOT! I wish this story would never end.”
3. Almost lose control while riding my sister’s powder-blue scooter (named Nancy Drew). I looked like Cruella Deville riding a giant Easter Egg through city traffic.
4. Willingly allow my family to use their nicknames for me without protesting. (No, I’m not being harsh. We’ll talk when your start being called “Hunny Bunny”, “Boo Bell” and “Sweet, Sweety Lips” in one sentence.)
5. Give a minute to the Environment. Last time I had to tell the guy that I hated children, polar bears, free hugs, and him, before he believed that I really didn’t have time to spend money funding his salary.
So I guess, inadvertently, these meetings are producing something valuable: A shift in paradigm. Next time you smash your finger in a car door, or someone stares blankly at you after you attempt to make a joke, or the 12-year old you babysit knows more about your cellphone than you do, don’t feel bad. Anything is better than a meeting.

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