I overheard this on the train this week.
“Thank you Andrew. I’m not quite sure what you are hearing but the real answer is, there is not a definitive answer yet. Alaska is working it and they are trying to salvage it.”
When I read it this morning I felt that I found a good prompt.
As an aside, what constitutes a good prompt? For me, it’s a welcome escape for starters. I’ll elaborate upon that another day. I shared this with my friends Dale, of A Dalectable Life, and Marc, of Sorryless, one or both who may join in on this one, too. Either way, you should check them out, this month especially, because Dale has turned Advent on its head with her kind gestures for the blogosphere. Here’s my take at bringing context to:
John tapped the numbers into his phone. A litany of beeps announce his team’s promptness and that he’s successfully joined his Monday morning conference call.
John liked being the boss. He boasted about what a great team he’d built for the company. Where others failed, he’d successfully united this fragmented group. He tamped down on their voices. John ensured that his voice was the only voice that corporate heard from. He is the boss. He is the leader. His is the only voice that matters.
John missed the collective sigh expressed from the baker’s dozen when he wished everyone a “good Monday morning”. He asked Elizabeth, the vice president of government affairs, to call the roll. Elizabeth complied. She bit back the urge to tell him to fuck off on this good Monday morning. Elizabeth was the highest ranking woman on his team, and the eight in the company, yet, he treated her like an admin fresh out of “business school”.
A thought salvaged her mood, he treats everyone like an admin. Then she took the thought further. She doesn’t want him dead, but what if he was?
Mutiny played out, and John is overboard. She dreams of it. They are in Alaska, instead this Monday morning they are on a boat. He’d boss them, condescend them, berate them all the way to his death. The team would express a collective sigh at his “team building bitches”. Then he spots a seal and stands up in his excitement. He wants to be the first to point it out. This team spent two years in Alaska, and this Monday morning boat ride ain’t their first rodeo. Just as John calls attention to the seal, a whale broadsides the boat and springs John.
A collective sigh emerged followed by high fives. Elizabeth goes into crisis management mode. She coaches her colleagues on answering near-future questions:
- No, none of us knew he couldn’t swim.
- Yes, all of us insisted he wear a safety vest.
- Yes, of course we wanted to save him. But, we were equally excited about the seal, only we stayed seated.
- We looked in disbelief as his body catapulted into the sea, upon which our intentions to bring him back to safety immediately drowned.
- It was awful he was swallowed by the water. There was no buoyancy.
- A tragedy. A freak accident.
She did not share this point: He went straight down to the bowels of hell where his sour, selfish, and sexist attitude would be welcomed.
“Elizabeth!” John hollered, his bark startled the passengers on the Union Pacific West train line, moreover, disturbed his team.
Her daydream was cut short by her fearless leader.
“Yes, John. I received reports from our survey team in Juneau. They confirmed that the planning commission unanimously rejected the pipeline plan. Two years of work down the drain.”
John started to fret. His job was on the line. This would surely have a domino effect. If Juneau doesn’t approve the plan, other government bodies will follow suit.
Andrew, who covered Calgary for Elizabeth’s team, spoke up.
“John, Friday’s defeat made its way across the border. Our Canadian allies are backing away, saying the plan isn’t salvageable without Juneau.”
“Christ,” John thought, “If we lose the Canadians, we are fucked”.
John mustered his authoritative voice and asserted himself.
“Thank you, Andrew. I’m not quite sure what you are hearing but the real answer is, there is not a definitive answer yet. Alaska is working it and they are trying to salvage it.”
Elizabeth, added, “John, we are Alaska.”
Andrew followed, “John, I just relayed what I learned this morning.”
“Thank you, Andrew, but I’m dealing with the facts. The fact is the Canadians know shit about what’s happening in Juneau. The Canadians will do what we tell them.
“Seriously, they are our allies. We haven’t a built a wall to the north now, have we?
“Have we Andrew?”
“No, sir,” Andrew said.
“Thank you,” John said.
“All right then, does anyone else have anything to add?” John asked.
A collective sigh, once again ignored, and John ended the call.
He looked out the window. The train neared downtown Chicago. He felt it vibrate before he heard the ring. It was Donald from corporate.
He answered. “Good Monday morning, Donald.”
Donald responded, “John you’ve got a big problem on your hands. The Canadians are bailing.”
“Yes, sir. I just spoke with my team and Alaska is on it.”
“John, I’m on it,” Donald said.
“I’m sorry, Donald, I’m not following,” John said.
“Of course, you don’t follow John. That’s why corporate wants to thank you for your years of service.
“Second, we plan to go in a different direction. And that includes, Elizabeth salvaging Alaska, John,” Donald said.
Surprised, but relieved he still had a job, John responded, “Got it. I’ll manage Canada then.”
“No, John the only thing you’ll be managing is your severance package. I expect to see you in the New York office by close of business,” Donald said.