Sunday, June 19, 2011

Stuff I Think About in Meetings

Meetings are the pimple on the boil on the butt of my life. Of my least favorite things, meetings are up there with John Howard, green beans, people who are nasty to children and animals,lasagne and bananas.

Working at Bastard Bank, I get to be in my fair share of meetings. I should be pleased I'm not a project manager or some sort of executive who appeart to live their lives in meetings. Being a plebby word nerd, I tend to lose around an hour a day to them on average. Some days I will be in meetings half the day. Other days there will be just one or two of the buggers to waste my time.

Meetings at which I'm an active participant I'm fine with too. These are normally the ones that I call, where I'll sit down with a programmer or some other road blocker for half an hour and hash things out. These are practical meetings. Meetings which take up half an hour or less - these are the good ones. They tend to get things done.

The meetings I really object to are the ones where you are invited to as fodder. "Oh, I thought you'd be interested..." is what comes from the convenor when you ask about your attendance because they need to make up numbers. There are also the meetings that Ah-sole convenes. I go running to my Project Manager to ask if I can skive off - normally to be told that somebody needs to keep and eye on him.Or the meeting at which your attendance is mandatory. This includes the extended weekly group meeting where one of the team will present a document and you, along with the rest of the team have to sit there whilst the upper echelons of the project discuss the matter at hand. There are hours of my life I will never get back. I really don't need to know about the stupidity and bitch fights of the executive committee - but I've been privy to all of this information.

However, this time in these fodder meetings - this is when some of my best thinking gets done. I deliberately leave my iPhone in my handbag back at my desk because playing Angry Birds whilst the boss is talking is bad form. I have my notebook and a pen. Good for jotting things down. But as a rule, while we're having these boredom sessions. And I get to thing.

I put on my best serious face and turn inward for a good thing. Fodder meetings are the lavatory of the workplace. You best thinking gets done when you're supposed to be concentrating on something else.

So, what do I think about when I'm in meetings.

Shopping lists.

The great thing about the note pad is that you can make cryptic notes about what you need at the supermarket that evening. If you're clever, it can even look like your taking notes. Some grilled eggplant here, a little feta cheese there, a notation that the test plan for the next release will be due out in a fortnight, milk, loo paper, tampons and the fact that Biggus Wiggus is now running the Under Architecture group.

It's great. You get back to your desk, rip the page out of your notebook and hope that you don't have to go find a Business Analyst with documenation skills at Coles later on.

Counting things.

Like the dentist's office where you count ceiling tiles and blackheads on your dentist's nose, dull meetings give you a chance to count stuff. How many facial tics will Eurotrash Intellectual succumb to in five minutes? How many top buttons does Ah-sole have undone? How many times does Hot Scouser check his phone in the meeting (Normally around 25 times) How many stains are on the Test Lead's cuff. How many earrings does Maggie have in her left ear. (I got to Eleven last count)

I haven't said much about Maggie yet. Maggie is an enigma. Probably around my age, she really knows her stuff. Like Margaret Thatcher, she is queen of the 1000 mile stare, has a voice with no discernable modulations and she never draws breath. She's a nice person, but she scares the hell out of me. She also has eleven earrings in her left ear.


Meetings are a great place to fantasise. I can't be the only one who daydreams about Hot Scouser in meetings. Or take myself off to another place normally involving Clive Owen, an oversized bathtub and a jar of nutella. Surely I can't be the only one who uses time in a semi-darkened room to do some inner happy time. Hands, of course, stay on the desk, normally writing the odd word from conversations, normally with a smile lurking at the corner of my mouth.

Plan my evenings

Monday - Masons, Tuesday, Gym, Wednesday Dream group.... meetings provide a perfect time to work out logistics - along with what you're having for dinner, what you might have to do in between work and what ever your doing, planning training and the like. It's a bit of time back for you.


With the screen showing some banal pie chart or table, the mind can go to far more interesting places. With your serious, "I'm interested" face on, your mind wanders to better places . As you feel the caress a large, soft, gentle hand across your cheek, the darkened room hides your blushes. You can concentrate hard on your note pad as that hand travels southward to your... oh you get the picture....

Where I want to Travel to Next

Ah, where will my perfect holiday be, away from this dull meeting room and this dreadful presentation that I really don't give a flying f*ck about. Oh, meetings let me plan holidays. Of course there is the New York Marathon next year, and maybe Bali at Xmas. Oh and if I win the lottery, I'd love to go to the Maldives and back to the UK to have a good look at Wales and the south... And then there are all the places in Australia I'd love to go...

But most of all, when I'm in boring meetings, I think about sex.

Oh, the other thing I think about when I'm in boring meetings - am I the only one in the room thinking about sex?

Will have to file this one under "just a bit wrong."


The Elephant's Child said...

You are possibly right about just a bit wrong. But certainly not alone. The meetings I resented most were the ones (natch mandatory attendance) where everyone tries to out importance/out busy everyone else. Ego tripping in a conference room. Urk.

River said...

I hate meetings. Sitting there pretending to pay attention while my bum and feet fall asleep. Thank goodness I hardly ever have to go to any.
You don't like lasagna???

The Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Pand,

I am TOTALLY with you on this. I bloody hate meetings - particularly pointless ones or those that involve an arse who uses business bullshit to the max but says nothing.

I once got kicked in a meeting by my manager because there was so much horseshit arond you could have kept all the farms in England sorted for months. I was bored out of my brain and playing with my pencil when the prime bullshit merchant came out with a line that made my blood boil. I slammed the pencil down on the table, rolled my eyes, sighed and grabbed my hair with a view to tearing it out. Sadly the bullshit merchant was a director who could probably have reprimanded me severely.

At that point I didn't care. I was close to throwing something at the idiot anyway.

One other thing you could do - play bullshit bingo - it passes the time and you can even write a blog post about it.

And if you do, I may get my soapbox out for a good old rant comment.

Thanks for letting me get that off my chest, Pand.