“Let’s begin the staff meeting, all right?”
Everybody rustles to their seats.
“How you doing Joe? How was your weekend?”
“Good. We caught the football game. What a killer.”
I do not like, watch or endorse football and am praying this does not devolve into a discussion.
On my left Mary whispers, “Pass me a bagel?”
Wordlessly I take hold of the tongs. They are too narrow. I sit there jabbing at the bagel like it’s a slab of leftover turkey that nobody really wants to eat.
Raj reaches over me, a little impatiently I think. He grabs the bagel, a plastic knife and the tub of scallion cream cheese, hands it to Mary, smirks and shakes his head. Incompetent.
“Chop chop, time’s wasting. Dannielle, what have you got for us?”
Very few people actually want to hear anything about what I do, much less the ins and outs of a weekly update.
I have no weekly update.
“I’m not sure what you want me to say,” I say.
In the corner, Tom had been showing something to Marsha on his notepad, and they were nodding and giggling. Now they, and the room, fell silent. Really? Did she just say that?
After a couple of seconds, “I have a question for Dannielle,” says Cindy.
“Of course, go right ahead.”
Bring it on, say my narrowed eyes and furrowed brow because Cindy is a shameless, social-climbing ass-kisser not to mention a backstabbing Machiavellian. She’s caught my error and is smoothing the moment so she can break out her switchblade.
“Yes, go right ahead, Cindy,” the boss says. “Your scarf is very flattering, by the way. I don’t mean that in a sexist way, so don’t go suing me and all.”
He goes on to laugh at his own joke and the group laughs along with him. I imagine his sixteen-year-old asking for the car on a Saturday night. “Yes,” he’ll reply. “But just remember, you don’t get a second chance to put safety first.”
And of course, Cindy is literally beaming. “Sexist shmexist.”
She throws her head back and laughs like it’s the funniest thing ever to say “sexist shmexist.”
Again, everybody laughs. What a fine staff meeting!
“No big thing, but Dannielle I was just wondering if you’d paid in yet for the holiday party. I checked and your name was not on the list.”
Defense is a very bad place to be.
“Oh. Um, I’ll get the money out of my wallet later.”
“Thanks for the update. Let’s move on, shall we? Who’s next?”
Dannielle Blumenthal is a seasoned communications professional with nearly two decades of progressive, varied experience in the public sector, private sector, and academia. Currently she is a public servant, as well as an independent freelance writer. This fictionalized blog post, like all of her public content, is written in her personal capacity unless otherwise noted. It does not reflect the views of the U.S. government, in whole or in part. Dog photo: This Year’s Love. Deer photo: Jarrod. Both photos via Flickr.