The employee stared at the spreadsheet on the screen in front of her, wondering how on Earth to reconcile the columns of numbers there with the columns of numbers that she previously had been given. The data had not changed in the meantime, so this certainly was a puzzler.
To take a quick break and hope the math would resolve itself, she checked the e-mail messages that she had ignored for the past two hours during the vain attempt to finish this project.
Ten new messages – oh boy. Most of them would be meaningless.
One did catch her attention: Emergency Mandatory Meeting at 10:00 a.m. in the Blue Conference Room. She shifted her eyes to the bottom right of the screen and saw the time was now 11:47 a.m. Oops. Oh well, no other related messages; can’t have been that important.
She unwillingly returned to wading in the sea of numbers and saw at last what needed to be done: she proceeded to do it, in triumph.
An hour later, one of her co-workers stopped by on her way to lunch: “Wow, can you believe what’s going on? I mean, I just, there are no words.”
Not wanting to admit that she had not attended the meeting that required attendance, she noncommittally replied with: “I hear ya.”
“You’re not kidding.”
She buried her head in a random file folder to signal that she was significantly busy and had no time for idle chit-chat about important issues; the other employee took the rude hint and looked for other company with which to share the misery.
The employee stared at the papers in the folder and could not believe her eyes: How could such a glaring typo have been included in this policy for… eight years?! And no one noticed it!? Now it’s going to have to go through committee review all over again; who knows what else is wrong with it?! The worst part of the whole thing was that she was the one who had written it.
She was engrossed in cross-outs, inserts, and transpositions when her phone interrupted: “Yes, what is it?” she answered with her standard greeting.
“Can you believe what’s going on? I’m beside myself. I mean, can you believe it?”
She quickly reviewed her options and went with: “No.”
“I know, right? So, any ideas on what you’re going to do about it?”
Another unnecessary apostrophe?! Son of a – “Listen, I can’t talk right now, I’ve gotta go.”
“Ooooh, I understand, say no more. Good luck!”
She hung up the phone and stared at it for a moment: Should I start being concerned about whatever it is everyone else seems to know and I don’t? That was overridden by the shame in seeing her correction-riddled document, which she originally thought she had written so well. If I had messed up so badly with that, what else in life have I messed up without knowing it?!
“Hey.” She looked up from the cross-referenced papers to see her manager standing next to the desk. “Got a minute?”
Not really; there is too much to be done and too much is at stake. “Sure – what’s up?”
He sat on the edge of the desk, threatening her precarious piles. “You know, what they said at the meeting today, that affects all of us.”
“And, frankly, we’re not certain what’s going to happen down the road, and everyone’s worried.”
“Is there anything you’d like to talk about, with me or with Human Resources?”
He raised his eyebrows at her. “‘No?’”
“Wow. OK. Then I guess there’s nothing left to discuss here.” He stood to leave, then hovered again. “You know, I’m actually a bit surprised – I figured you of all people would’ve had a few choice words to say about all this.”
“Well, you know me.” She looked back down at her papers.
“What?” She looked back up at him again.
“Never mind.” And he finally left.
She went back to tearing her work apart when a new e-mail caught her eye: Please meet with Human Resources and your manager at 3:00 p.m. That was in five minutes, and it would take five minutes to walk down there.
Oh, bother. She threw her pencil and papers onto the desk and stalked all the way to H.R. How am I ever supposed to get any work done around here with all these interruptions?!