Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Dude does not look like a lady- rather, lady sounds like a man.

Right now I’m sitting on an eight hour long conference call and if you think I’m listening, you’re right. I’m listening with my magical multitasking skills to three people carry on three different conversations. I can’t tell who they’re talking to but that’s part of the fun. Are they talking to me? The wall? That crazed chinchilla in the corner, staring beadily from his hiding place inside the laptop bag?

Lately I’ve been on lots of these calls and sometimes, if I’m really lucky, I get to fly to The Frozen Tundra to bodily participate in these meetings. I use the term “participate” very loosely because, hello, I am Southern. Southern Folk don’t waste their time on all-day meetings, especially when there’s this handy-dandy newfangled thing call THE INTERNETS and THE ELECTRONIC EMAIL. So mostly I nod intelligently and pretend to take notes. During bathroom breaks I check to make sure my face is still holding up its Moderately Interested look because there’s always the chance I’ll get tired and slip into my WHO GIVES A FLYING FUCK face.

Last week was more interesting than most because my boss, Leotissimus, was requested to join the call. It’s not that his mere presence made it interesting because it’s generally real hard to spice up a conference call when you’re stuck on the ass end of it, listening via the telephone in your office. It’s more that Leo has this innate ability to insert his foot square into his mouth, all the way down his esophagus where his toes wriggle around and rip a hole in his spleen. Like that one time he accidentally walked in on a woman pumping breast milk in one of our unused offices, right after someone had told him that a new mother was going to be using it to pump in peace. He just wanted to make sure the door was locked. Imagine her surprise.

He’s normally pretty good with the shit we give him, just like the rest of us. Nobody is immune. My other boss once sent an email to the wrong [redacted] that just said “Kreatur wants a kiss!” That sentence has a long and sordid history and one day I might explain it. But it has nothing to do with my boss wanting a kiss, which is pretty much what The Other Robin assumed. I once returned a phone call from our then-Vice President, like, THE Vice President, the one that’s right under the president, the one that blinks twice and shit sings down the toilet, with “TAG, YOU’RE IT.” In my defense I didn’t know who he was because much like Dick Cheney he just kind of faded into the background, on purpose, so he could surprise unsuspecting employees and make them piss themselves with fear.

The thing is, we all do it. We all do asinine things and later regret that our mother didn’t shoot tequila during her pregnancy because at least then we could claim mental defect. It’s just that here, at The Undisclosed Location, we never let you forget it.

So last Thursday I was sitting in a room with fifteen very unhelpful Yanks while Leo dialed in from Little Rock. We’d had about two hours worth of document revising when the person to my right started talking about how System X was going to communicate with System Y. During a lull in conversation, Leo popped in with “Who was the gentleman that was just speaking?”

Pretty innocuous, right? But the room goes silent and since no one appears willing to speak up, I lean into one of the strategically placed microphones and tell Leo that the last person speaking was Tanya, but Robert was the one a few minutes before. Leo says, “No, the gentleman. The gentleman that was just talking about System X.”

That was pretty much what I was afraid of, so I whipped out my blackberry and sent him a message that said “NOT A DUDE.”

But I’m 700 miles away and there’s probably a 2-3 second lag time between when I hit Send and when he reads his message. Three seconds that could have saved us all a lot of tension. Meanwhile he digs the hole deeper, summarizing what “the gentleman” was just talking about, just to make it clear that he wants the name. Of the gentleman. That was just speaking.

And then The Universe intervened and he finally read his crackberry message. His response? “Oh FUCK.”

It’s a tribute to my upbringing that I kept a straight face.


Drunken Chud said...

i am picturing this, and laughing right now. just the silence, the tension, then... *beep beep* "ooh a new text from robin... oh fuck."

Carl from L.A. said...

Classic, Birdie, classic!

Amanda said...

I am pissing myself. I love Leo. And who did he walk in on w/ the exposed breast? Andrea? God I miss you guys.

Anonymous said...

Only WE understand that bottomless pit feeling. I get the sweats when I have to sit right next to a VP or Mr. Exec Whatsamahoozit in a roundtable meeting. I'm always paranoid they're looking at my notepad, seeing what "I" think is important enough to jot down.

Texas Roxy