There's a new graduate recruit in marketing. We call him the Embryo because his head seems much larger than his body and he smells slightly of amniotic fluid (I've noticed the women in the office surreptitiously sniffing him). Smokehouse has a rigorous induction course for our graduates. It's in five phases - enthusiasm, confusion, disillusionment, bitterness and cynicism. Only graduates who get to stage five are allowed to start in marketing. We're having trouble getting the Embryo past mindless enthusiasm, which makes him almost impossible to work with. We've given him menial chores such as budgeting and strategy to keep him out of the way.
Board meeting to meet Amy Lefrak from the New York office. I was hoping for something from Sex and the City but she was straight out of Disaster at the Abattoir. Sir Marcus announced a programme of trans-national cross-cultural audits to see whether local working conditions were inhibiting us from maximum organisational effectiveness. Him talking rubbish is certainly a big inhibitor if you ask me. Amy Lefrak would be auditing our office while Sir Marcus would take personal responsibility for the French office (where organisational effectiveness means keeping a safe distance between your pain au chocolat and your cafe-au-lait and your pain at home and your lait at work). Lefrak announced that all you need to understand about working with Americans was to be on time, have a plan and be ethical.
Got in late due to unethical lack of planning. The Embryo was waiting outside my office with some figures he wanted to go through for the hundredth time. My feeling about going through figures is the same as circumcision; if you're going to do it all, only do it once. Anything else is not only unnecessary, but highly dangerous. I've noticed the Embryo's head glows slightly when he's holding a spreadsheet. Why he isn't in Finance, I'll never know. I must call Finance and see if they've got some absolute fox down there who should be in Marketing. Could have done with lunch with Bill Peters but he was away on site visits at Sandown and Thirsk (didn't know we had sites there). I called him instead and he said that one-fifth of Americans believe they've been abducted by aliens. I don't know why, but this comforted me.
Lefrak popped in demanding a breakfast meeting tomorrow. I said she was welcome to a breakfast meeting but it would be a table for one. She also wanted to look at my marketing plan. I told her she may be able to get away with that kind of intimate personal questioning in the States but not over here. She finished by saying she was going to enjoy working with me. It's wasn't the enjoyment I objected to, it was the work I didn't like the sound of. At this point, the Embryo emerged and I asked whether she'd like to go through some figures. Her face lit up like I'd asked her to Prom Night. I told the Embryo that now was his chance to go through all the figures he'd ever dreamed of. His head positively glowed. Would have ended day on a high note but Lefrak demanded to see ethical policies behind every aspect of the business.
Bill has returned from his site visits, thank God. If anybody knows how to deal with cross-cultural issues, it's Bill. Or possibly cross-dressing issues - one of the two, anyway. I called an 11 o'clock breakfast meeting for the three of us and as soon as Lefrak mentioned ethical policies, Bill stopped her and told her firmly that ethical policies discriminated against the unethical and we had a very rigorous policy against discrimination. While she imploded, we left for Mr Bojangles and an unethically large glass of red. That afternoon, Lefrak said she would like to take the Embryo back to the States with her as he would clearly be more at home there. Bill and I thought it was a supremely timely and ethical plan. It's also our first confirmed case of alien abduction.
- John Weak can be contacted at email@example.com.