the noise of life
“I don’t think anyone in this room will disagree with me when I say that retail sales is hard. It’s hard, plain and simple.”
From the look of the faces gathered in the conference room, nobody was in the mood to disagree. Or agree.
The man that stood in front of them, a hired gun from corporate, brought in to settle some ongoing friction between employees at various outlet stores, puffed himself up even further. Many in the crowd were waiting for a button to pop off his suit jacket and fly across the room.
“The thing I keep hearing in these disputes and disagreements is that both of the parties feel that they are getting the shit end of the stick” he said matter-of-factly. He paused and looked around the room, giving off the impression that the words that followed would justify his presence at corporate. As if these next words would have everyone turning to each other and nodding, acknowledging that not just anyone gets to be at corporate. That it takes more than expensive hair gel.
He picked up his bottle of water and took a leisurely swig before continuing. “The question is, why is there shit on the stick to begin with?”
He smiled. No doubt the way a spider smiles when he sees a fly get entangled in his web, if spiders could smile or corporate executives could shimmy down a thread and eat the insides of a helpless insect.
A small rustling went through the audience. Not so much like wind making its way across dry leaves as cattle ‘rustling’.
The man leaned forward and asked “Any questions?”
A dozen hands shot up. He pointed to the man seated closest to him. “What exactly is the shit you are referring to?” inquired the man.
“That’s a good question. Why don’t you take a shot at answering it.”
“I don’t know. Honestly, I just wanted to say ‘shit’ out loud in front of everyone” answered the seated man. There was a ripple of laughter that swept across the room and the man leaned back in his chair looking quite pleased with himself.
Not laughing was a young woman who was quite taken with the man from corporate. So much so that she discreetly opened up a well-worn copy of Carl Jung’s The Red Book and began to scribble down the beginnings of a poem on the back page; Trying to say what can’t be articulated. Is this a fight or a dance? I can see for miles behind me but looking ahead I can only see as far as my nose.
“What exactly does the stick represent in your analogy?” yelled a woman in back without raising her hand. Pandemonium seemed only a heartbeat away.
“Another good question” said the corporate man, loosening his tie and trying to regain control of the room, “What do you think it means?”
“She just wanted to say ‘stick’” someone else shouted.
Pandemonium had arrived.
The man from corporate looked around and realized that the people seated before him had taken the necessary precautions to avoid accountability. This was made clear by the Hispanic gentleman who had successfully fulfilled his desire to say the word ‘shit’ in front of his contemporaries sporting a nametag that announced him as Annie Cho.
“Someone got shit on my stick!” came another voice.
“My stick! My beautiful stick!”
“Someone got peanut butter on my end of the chocolate” offered another.
The man standing at the head of the table suddenly wished that he had a stick. A large stick with a pointy end. They hadn’t even given him the chance to take off his jacket and dramatically roll up his sleeves. “No wonder retail is dying” he thought to himself before packing up and beginning his long ride back to corporate.