Earth Minus Jeans Equals Slacks ( the 6th silly bit )
Area Managers/ Managing Directors: When to expect a visit
Picture the scene, however unlikely and exaggerated it may sound.
You're feeling a little rebellious today You've grabbed several piles of Jeans that were neatly displayed and chucked them across the floor. You've purposely left the cash till drawer open with a sign sellotaped to it saying Free money - Help yourselves cos we can't be arsed to prosecute.
You're slumped across the cash desk with a joint dangling between your lips and you're wearing a T-shirt with a slogan that reads Look at me and I'll slit your throat - or something similar. The CD playing on the shop stereo will be either Iron Maiden, Metallica, Dr Dre or Snoop Dogg. You're holding your middle finger in a constant gesture for no other reason than thinking it's a funny thing to do.
Done all that?
Right, now watch your Managing Director come strolling through the door.
Golden Rule Number 5 - Don't actually do any of the above.
Managers Meetings - Methods of staying awake
You never understood. You never realised just what it was they had to go through, roughly two or three times a year. All those different managers you had worked under before you eventually rose to such heights yourself.
You had wondered what the hell it was they were moaning on about. Remember seeing them standing by the fax machine clutching a sheet of paper with a face whiter than the driven snow?
" Oh no, " they would mutter to themselves. " Oh please God no. " They read the fax a little closer, holding a hand to their forehead in anguish and clinging to the side of the cash desk to steady themselves from the faintness they're beginning to feel. You watched and wondered what news could be so bad that it arrived by fax.
Please fax over to head office your staff sheets and weekly order ... oh and by the way your cat's been hit by a lorry.
Not really very likely is it?
So what on earth could be the problem? You approached him or her carefully with a sympathetic face and asked if everything was okay.
" No, everything is not bloody okay, I've got to go to a bloody meeting next week. "
' Oh ', you thought to yourself, ' Is that all? '
Is that all? IS THAT ALL?
YOU SELFISH, UNFEELING, IGNORANT SLIME!
No, in fairness you just had no idea. How could you have known that in a recent survey, eight out of ten retail managers said they preferred going to the dentist to have their entire mouth pulled out of their face with an instrument that looks like two hacksaws attached to a wooden stick in a T-shape.... than go to a managers meeting.
You're entitled to wonder why it's such a big deal. " It's like a day off innit? All you 'ave to do is sit at the back, put yer feet up an' ave a snooze, surely. 'Ow difficult can it be to just pretend yer listening? "
In a manner of speaking, all these assumptions that you make about such a meeting are perfectly true. So why is it all your past managers, having read the dreaded fax that summoned them, tried feebly to persuade somebody else to go in their place. They were so desperately serious about this, they offered to spend the next few evenings making a plaster-cast of their own face as a disguise for someone to wear.
" You'll really enjoy it, I promise. They lay out bottles of soft drink and plastic bowls of jelly babies and toffos and fizzy colas.... "
" I'm not doing it. "
" Okay listen. Go in my place and I'll never make you sweep and mop the shop-floor ever again... "
" I don't care, I'm not doing it. "
If you're involved in a scenario like this with your manager, savour the moment. Enjoy it. Even drag it out for a while and string them along, make them believe that you might just possibly agree to do it. This will be the only occasion where they sink to their knees before you and weep for a small mercy, and boy will it feel good.
That is until some years later when it's your turn to be the manager, until it's your turn to attend one of these meetings. That is when you begin to understand.
That's the point at which you turn up in floods of tears on the doorsteps of all your ex-managers and hug them as soon as they answer the door, sobbing " I'm so sorry, I didn't know, I just had no idea. Why didn't you tell me, why didn't you talk to me about it? "
It isn't so much that these meetings are in any way intimidating, just that they are plain boring.
Now, when we say boring we don't just mean boring to the point where the skin on your face begins to peel. We mean boring as in so boring, you could actually die.
No word of a lie. There was once such a meeting held by a well known fashion retailer, which ended prematurely with a call-out to the emergency services. The local news channel later reported a death toll of six managers who had all slit their wrists with a biro, plus four others seriously hurt. Seven others were unaccounted for, though it was suspected they had just wisely pissed off home during the lunch break.
This is why the Health and Safety Executive now insist it is mandatory to fit all managers with immovable rubber wrist guards prior to their admittance to the meeting room. Many companies have even taken steps to install Airport-style security at the entrance doors, with extensive searches for any sharp objects.
What you will need to bring with you:
One - A pen and plenty of paper goes without saying of course, although you will find your reasons for bringing these differs to why your bosses think you have brought them. They will see you scribbling away furiously and wrongly believe that you are taking notes.
What you'll actually be doing is... well, scribbling away. All manner of artistic images will formulate on your notepad. Your house for instance with four windows and a door. Stick drawings of your mum and dad. A strange looking alien with big teeth and a bizarre genitalia that the human race could only dream of.
In the true spirit of a management meeting, there will be an opportunity for interactive scribblings. Remember that the manager sitting next to you is your best friend during these depressing hours. At some point, he or she might discreetly nudge you and show you a drawing of a Spider they've just doodled. You will be gripped by a rabid desire to try and draw a better Spider, and in the true spirit of a management meeting this will spark a healthy non-verbal debate on who can draw the best Spider. In the true spirit of a management meeting ( again ), you will seize the motivation and drive to be the best Spider artist you can be, making sure that yours has the correct number of legs for a start, giving it a pair of eyes and also colouring it in to a higher standard.
Whilst this silent art contest is spreading throughout the room, the Managing Director will waffle away obliviously at the front, pointing at key phrases and mottos on his overhead projector.
He has not drawn any Spiders. So much for his rhetoric about being a team player.
Although playing 'Hangman' is always a popular activity amongst bored managers, we don't recommend this very highly. It becomes too predictable and repetitive as the only thing people can think of is the Managing Director at the front, and so the same four-letter words tend to crop up over and over again.
Two - Always bring a bottle of water with you. All that debate and discussion, the throwing back and forth of various ideas and three-point plans and other spoutings of total garbage can be thirsty work. Your superiors will be impressed and encouraged at seeing you walk in with a bottle of water in your hand, reading it as a statement of intent on your part to throw all your energy into the meeting.
From your point of view, the fact that Vodka or Gin has the same colourless appearance and can be passed off as something much less intoxicating, is an absolute Brucie-bonus.
That is until later in the meeting when, having consumed most of it, you tell the whole room about your dysfunctional parents, and then suddenly start accusing the manager of the Bluewater store of trying to kidnap your dog.... even though you don't actually have a dog.
Three - Pea-shooters and catapults have unfortunately been banned from such meetings.
Four - If at all possible, try and bring your mum. Why? Ask yourself what it was that really drove you to progress this far in your career. Can you honestly say it was your own desire to hold such responsibility? Or that you really had this raging thirst to take your work home with you and climb exhausted into bed with the worries and the pressures of the day still weighing you down like lead weights balancing on your shoulders?
Or is it possible that just part of the reason you're attending this mind-numbing meeting is because deep down, there's a subconscious need to impress your parents and make them proud of you.
Remember your mum's outburst of pride and joy when she saw for the first time the keys dangling from your belt-loop? You were ready to call an ambulance, she was so damn happy. And it doesn't matter how many times since you've tried to educate her about the down-sides of your new found position, she has remained so damn happy!
It even drove her to join the local Womens Institute, not because she was interested in hearing guest speakers drone on at her about nineteenth-century fire fighting techniques with accompanying slide-shows, but so she could meet new people and brag to them about her son becoming a store manager.
Of course, the finer detail about it being a bog-standard discount store selling clothing that even peasants in Guatemala would turn their noses at, is always conveniently omitted. Especially when bragging to middle-class ladies whose darling daughters are Company Directors or Project Managers building irrigation systems in West Africa.
So there is only one way to pull her out of this rose-tinted fantasy world and get her to shut the hell up about it, only one way for her to experience the same reality check that you experienced the day those keys were hung around your neck like a dead Albatross.
Bring her along to a managers meeting. Try and smuggle her in any way that you can. If she's small enough, sneak her in by putting her in your rucksack. If she's a bit too big for that, buy a bigger rucksack.
It's guaranteed that when you stumble blindly out at the end, your mum will be respectfully quiet for a moment before saying, " Well... they're looking for cleaners at the old people's home if you're interested. " It will be music to your ears.
Attaining the salary you deserve
Ha ha ha ha ha haw haw, oh god my sides! Hargh hargh no stop it now, you're hurting me, seriously....
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