Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Insomniac, Part 6

Harold sat in his 7:00 am meeting and wondered why people who were efficient were never fat.  Anne wasn't fat.  Sherry wasn't fat.   He tried to list efficient people he knew that were fat.  None.  Zilch. Was he one of those fat bigots, he wondered.

He hadn't gotten to the meeting until 7:06.  Sherry, the systems engineer, had looked pointedly at the clock when he tried to close the door quietly behind him.  He had taken the only available chair, next to Sherry, at the conference table. 

He wondered why they had to meet at 7:00 am anyway.  Couldn't the people from New Jersey wait until 11:00 am for their meeting? 

He wondered why he even needed to be at this meeting.  It was about changing the angle of the control panel to fit with New Jersey's specifications.  It wouldn't affect him until they decided whether or not to do it.  Then, they could just as easily send him the three page email with attachments that would inevitably go around to everyone here along with at least fifteen more people as well.  The CAD guy wasn't here.  Why did he need to be here if the CAD guy didn't.  Then, he wondered why New Jersey's control panel couldn't be like Arizona's and Colorado's control panels.

"... and we've found that the display panel is ineffectual when vertical since ..." Blah, blah, blah.  There was a phone in the middle of the big table and it was talking.  Everybody but him stared at the phone as it spoke. 

"... Human Interface says that the ineffectual nature of the panel will interfere with the functionality ..." the phone said.  Ineffectual.  Ineffectual. Ineffectual.  Rhymes with 'sexual.'  Harold snorted.  Did he actually do that out loud? Sherry, the systems engineer stared him down.  He didn't know what he'd done to tick her off, but the harder he tried not to make mistakes around Sherry, the more mistakes he made. 

Harold doodled on his new pad of paper.  He wondered how much he was getting paid to sit here and listen to stuff he didn't need to hear.  More doodling on his pad.  Math would look good if anyone was watching.  As long as he didn't use dollar signs, no one would be the wiser.  He'd get about $55.  Why couldn't he just sit back and enjoy getting $55 for doodling on the company's paper? 

Because he'd fall asleep if he did, Harold thought.  He'd fallen asleep in a meeting once.  It wasn't pretty. 

Harold wondered how much money they were spending on this conference call.  He guessed that the average salary of an engineer in this room was $75,000 a year.  He wondered if that really was the average.  So then, these people were billed out at about $37.50 per hour.  Two hours each for the ten other people around this table and at least six in New Jersey, this was scheduled to be a $1200 meeting, plus his $55, plus new pads of paper for at least half of them, $12.75, pens they'd probably take home, $4.25.  There was the package of jumbo Costco muffins that Sherry picked up yesterday, $3.99 and napkins, another $1.99.  He put his left arm around his pad in case Sherry leaned over to look.  He felt like he was in middle school again.  He should add the hour she spent yesterday too, $37.50.  It was a grand total of $1315.48.  He should have been an accountant.  So, if just six of the people here, including him, could be off in their little cubicles doing some real work, he could save the company $463.58. He looked up triumphantly and ...

everyone was staring at him. 


"Um, yes, Jim." He hoped that just leaving the question hanging out there would make someone repeat it.

"It's Roger, Harold," the phone said. "What are the effects of the anglification of the control panel on the Specifications Manual?"  Anglification?

Harold had no idea. 

"Ah, uh, there are at least twenty diagrams of the box that will have to be redone by CAD and imported into the manual," he said.  He wanted to ask outright why the CAD guy wasn't here, but this was the best he could do.  "And we'll have to add a section to cover the, uh, the ..."

Sherry was glaring at him again.

"... the changes," he said with relief.  Sherry tried to make eye contact with Tom, the team leader.  It looked as though she had talked to him about Harold before.  Tom tilted his head and then looked away from Sherry.  Tom's a good guy, Harold thought.  If it were up to Sherry, Harold would be printing resumes at the library. 

Harold hated these meetings.

Thank you for listening, jules

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