Thursday, February 20, 2014

won't you please, please, help me

Let me take you for a ride up the corporate ladder.

Wednesday morning brought another Comm meeting (that's corporate lingo for "Communications Department"), a small sub-group of the larger Marketing Department of which I am a paid proud member. 

Comm is comprised of Elgie, the Director of Communications, who, in addition to other responsibilities, spends a good portion of her day maintaining a diplomatic calm over the more hot-headed members of her team (read: me). In my thirty years as a professional artist, Elgie is one of the best bosses I have worked for — and I'm not just saying that because she reads my blog. (And I'm not putting her solely at the top of the list  because my former boss Diane reads my blog, as well.)  Perhaps you remember Elgie as a supporting player in this ordeal. Comm boasts two writers, including my friend Kym, whose well-meaning antics have made for many an amusing blog post. Then, there's the Data Steward, a key member of the team, but whose actual job function remains a mystery to most of the Market Department. Comm is rounded out by the Web Master, whose job title sounds as though he should be wearing a cape and a tunic emblazoned with a big red "W."

On Wednesday morning, we were joined by the CMO (Chief Marketing Officer, for those non-corporate types playing along at home), as he wished a status report on an upcoming, highly-anticipated, internal website overhaul. So, at 10 AM, with coffee mugs and note pads in hand, we all filed into a conference room. Web Master had arrived early and was busily fiddling with connections from his laptop to the big, wall-mounted, flat-screen monitor looming over the the far end of long conference table. He was rigging a video feed so the whole group could see his computer's desktop on the big screen. We sat patiently, sipping coffee and nibbling the donut hole treats that Elgie graciously brought, as Web Master checked his plugs and jacks until he was satisfied with the connections. Then, he grabbed the multifunction remote control, pointed it at the sleek black video receiver on the wall and pressed the power button.


He pressed the button again.

Again nothing.

He examined the remote. He popped the back open and rotated the batteries, hoping to remedy a faulty contact. He replaced the battery compartment lid and pressed the power button again. Nothing.

"Maybe there's a power button on the unit itself." he said, as he jumped up and approached the wall displaying the massive monitor. Slowly and carefully, he slid his hands around the outside of the unit, each side, top and bottom. He inspected the back of the unit and crouched down to visually survey the underside, hoping to spot something he may have missed with his hands. Nothing. He shook the remote and mashed the power button again. Exasperated, he called the company Help Desk. Past experiences have revealed that name to be a misnomer.

"Help Desk," said the voice from the four way speakerphone at the center of the conference table.

"Did you
try pushing
the power
Web Master explained his dilemma.

The Help Desk voice paused, obviously assessing the technicalities of the situation, then offered this astute, previously-untried solution: "Did you press the power button?"

We all exchanged stunned glances. "She didn't really say that did she?" We all thought it, but no one spoke it. Well, maybe I did.

"Yes. Yes I did.," Web Master replied, doing his very best not to end his sentence with "you fucking moron!" (He was successful.)

Help Desk voice was not defeated, as she provided another suggestion. "Did you check for a power button on the unit?"

"Yes, I tried that.," Web Master replied, nearly biting his lip.

"I'll send someone down to check it out.," Help Desk voice reported.

A short time later, two gentlemen entered the room. If we had not already known their purpose, we would have believed the pair to be entertainers for a children's birthday party, judging purely by their wobbly gaits, ill-fitting tool belts and droopy clothing. One of the men immediately snatched the remote from the table and repeatedly pressed the power button several hundred times. Then, he popped the battery compartment lid and.... do I even need to finish this sentence? Meanwhile, his cohort slid his hands along the outside of the wall-mounted unit and inspected its posterior for a power button. This was followed by several minutes of head-cocking, chin-stroking and thoughtful skull-scratching, supplemented by a generous amount of "hmmm"s. 

One of the men whipped out a cellphone and called — we can only assume — someone in a supervisory position. Within a minute, the conference room doors flew open and  a woman with a no-nonsense stride burst in. She headed straight for the wood-grain cabinet beneath the wall-mounted monitor. Leaning over, she studied a large, black unit on a shelf, previous hidden by the cabinet doors. She pressed a button on the front and the monitor came to life with bright a LED glow. She turned on her heel, smiled, and headed back from whence she came.

"What was the problem?," the CMO asked, as she crossed by him on her way out.

"Someone had turned off the main power switch.," she answered, shaking her head.

The two men followed her out of the room — ambling unsteadily, mouths agape — looking like lost puppies about to be given a new home and a big bowl of sloppy meat by-products.

Problems behind us, we started our meeting.

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