And Then It Got Surreal
Yesterday I found myself sitting in the very posh office of the Chief Executive Offer (CIO) of this here organization that employs me. Our CIO is absolutely brilliant, well recognized in the IT field and is one hell of a business woman. She’s also a rather serious sort, which is fine. All business.
Somehow I’ve managed to be a good enough little employee and shown enough of my own savvy that she has been willing to invite me to some pretty high level meetings. Yesterday was one such meeting and I was damn lucky to be invited.
In the office were five of us minions from various ends of the business along with the Lady With a C Title.
The IT organization is building a very big and very key component of the business systems here at the ol’ place of employ, so we were on the phone with a third party having a fairly intense negotiation.
The building where the CIO sits is very, very old and a brand new happy IT building is being constructed as we speak. It’s going up right in front of the existing building and will be a little jewel of efficiency and network capacity. Good stuff!
The current building sits on a hill and the windows from the CIO’s office offer a spectacular view of San Francisco and even the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance. When I do get to be in her office, I always sit near one of the large windows and spectate the view.
So there we are yesterday on the call with our CIO and the CIOs from four other large organizations speaking with a third party company about this huge joint effort. My C Level exec was taking the lead on the call and right from the start, things were getting tense.
As she was speaking, suddenly I hear the “bluuuuaaaaaart!” of an air horn. The kind of air horn that an obnoxious fan might bring to a football game. I’m the sort of gal who startles easily so the air horn lifted me a quarter inch off of my seat. As my head whipped around to look out the window to see what, exactly, the frap was going on, I noticed a large bundle of rebar go floating by.
Ah, I see. The construction.
Because I am mature and a professional, I immediately wanted to start giggling like crazy. It was so surreal. “Blah, blah, blah you are not understanding our strict budget requirements…*bluuuuaaaaaart!*… : bundle of rebar floats by: ”
So I looked at my shoes, I looked at my notebook, I looked anywhere but in anyone’s eye because I was about to laugh my fool head off.
Ahem. Then I regained my composure and my serious “umm hmm” look and got back in the game.
About ten minutes later, the CIO is drilling the third party rep, “That is NOT what I told you two weeks ago, you have NOT addressed the key component of this proposal…*bluuuuaaaaaart!*…: floating rebar :”
Oh hell. I can’t keep it together. I bit the insides of my cheeks and stayed strong.
Then a scant five minutes later the third party rep, “…we can only provide this set of concessions because the way our company is positioned, the street won’t look favorably on…*bluuuuaaaaaart!*…: floating rebar : ”
I can only imagine what the guy on the phone was thinking. He had no perspective on what the air horn was about, he just kept hearing it over the line.
Which made me wonder if that wasn’t the greatest negotiation tool ever!
This third time I hazarded a look around the room and found that no one other than me seemed to be affected by the air horn blasts. They were all cool as a cucumber while I was using every tool in my arsenal to hold it together.
The fourth time was the deal breaker. It came at such an awkward moment in the conversation that all five of us minions broke down and started giggling like kindergartners. I looked around the room as we all laughed. All of us. Except the CIO.
Thankfully the meeting soon wrapped up and as I took my leave, the CIO thanked me for attending and I managed to stay very serious and professional, but I chuckled all the way to the parking lot.
I may be a well-regarded professional, but that latent childhood hasn’t gone away yet. Nor do I expect it will anytime soon.
Image from The Sportsman’s Guide.