Forced social interaction, or can these scissors cut butter?

I am, as has been stated many times in the past, kind of a hermit. I’m not a creepy guy that never comes out to see the light of day (well, except in the winter, but to be fair, we all are at that time of year). I do quite enjoy the company of a fine cigar while sitting on my porch, listening to the bustling sounds of nature that I haven’t killed with insect repellent.

That being said, one of my biggest pet peeves are meetings, especially boring, long-winded “meetings.” Ugh. Sure, some meetings are necessary, as is governance and such, but they rarely end promptly, and more often than not, run roughly two to three hours too long. They kill the flow of my day, which goes something like this: wake up, breakfast, nap, lunch, nap, reading and stogie, nap, supper, nap, baseball, nap, videogames, bed.

Efficiency is not the name of the game here either. It’s a competition to see which speaker can talk about themselves or just hear themselves talk, the longest. I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure I’m not.

Anyway, the infamous “meeting,” comes in several forms. Most try to mask themselves by other names, but don’t be fooled. If it can be labeled “forced social interaction,” it is a meeting, and most likely, it is something that you’d rather not do. Unless you are one of those “type-A personality” guys that, in all due respect, are kind of the main reason why I dislike meetings. But are they all bad? Let’s take a look at a few types shall we?

 

Work meetings

 

Necessary evils, to be sure, and pretty much covered in the intro. Most meetings that run more than three hours, I can almost guarantee can be condensed into about a 10-minute presentation. Don’t believe me? I’ll be glad to come out and help you with your efficiency. But be forewarned, I charge an outrageous appearance fee.

 

Activity meetings

 

If there is any word I dislike more than “meeting,” that word is “queue.” Far too many consecutive vowels, and a really pretentious way to call a “line” a “line.” But right up there is the word “activity.” Whenever someone uses that word, they are trying to make something seem like fun. But fun has nothing to do with it. It’s a misleading word, because activity means just that, an activity. Then again, you probably wouldn’t show if they called it a “forced labor” meeting, which most of the time, is what it is.

I have a wallet, why would I want to make another one, and if you want me to cut this construction paper into a snowflake, can I please have a pair of scissors that could at least cut butter?

 

Team-building exercises

 

Another one of those “forced labor” situations that have you work with people you already work with, in a vain effort to make you feel closer to them and trust one another. All well and good, but when was the last time in your business life you ever found yourself, say, trapped in a jungle, and have to use the “team-building” skills you learned on a ropes course? And you know during those trust falls there is a small piece of you that just wants to let them drop. Admit it, we all do.

Want an efficient team? Here is a freebie: Do your job, help others if asked, ask for help if need be, and most importantly, don’t be a jerk. I saved you from an afternoon of rope-burns and bruised “cheeks.”

 

Box socials

 

Yes, they exist. They don’t happen often, because the outcome could be disastrous. These meetings, traditionally speaking, have people bring in a box lunch and swap it with someone else. What a “wonderful activity.” You can, however, have some fun with these as long as you don’t bring a food someone is allergic to. For a bit of a lark, you can bring fish, microwave Chinese, or some sort of bean burrito. It will be a good day until the break room smells fresh again. In the case of the bean burrito, well, let’s just say that’s the lunch that keeps on giving.

Now, I’m not asking people to be anti-social just because I am. I’m just kind of in a bad mood today because I had to leave the house and missed my mid-morning snooze. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m late to a meeting with a mister (bad cigar pun warning) “Fuente.” Let’s just say he gets a little, “hot headed” if I’m late.

Chris Hamble


  • Susan Westmoreland

    Dear Mr. Hamble,

    I’m not quite sure why, but i enjoy your column very much.

    I would very much like to hear your take on the robo calls promising to clear up your credit or what ever and this is your very, very, last chance! They will not call again, ahh right……

    And if you purchase something you get a ginormous amount of spam to have you increase the warranty, but hurry, hurry, because time is running out. Which I begin to wonder if their idea of time is in sync with God’s idea of time.

    If the mood ever strikes you between naps, or you really, really are having writers block, please, consider my request.

    Humbly,

    Susan Westmoreland

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