An emergency meeting has been called in No Man’s Land headquarters.
“Well?” says Derek, the CEO, tapping his watch pointedly.
“I’ll go first, if that’s okay?” Hazel, the Office Manager, speaks up. Derek nods his consent and she continues. “Well, it’s just that we’ve run out of stationery.” Derek raises an eyebrow. “And, well,” Hazel continues tremulously, “we need some more.”
Derek regards her with incredulity. “Then get some.”
“It’s not that simple, you see,” Hazel says, averting his gaze and fingering the buttons on her cardigan (previously part of a twin set but whose twin had long ago succumbed to a nerve-induced coffee stain).
“And that would be because…?”
“Because John holds the budget and he says we can’t afford it,” Hazel finishes on a note of triumph, passing the baton of blame to No Man’s Land’s Finance Manager at the far end of the table, who glowers at her through his unflattering thick rimmed spectacles.
“Now don’t go blaming me,” John says crossly, “Sadie’s the one who’s been telling you it’s not possible.”
A tut of discontent alerts them all to Sadie’s presence. “I said no such thing,” she remarks. “What I said was you would have to run it past Danielle because she’s the communications person and she’s updating the brand guidelines, so she might well want to wait until they’re done before ordering more stationery. Anyway, I’m just a lowly secretary, what would I know?” She rolls her eyes and returns to the serious business of filing her nails.
“And Danielle would be where exactly?” Derek asks, barely managing to hide the exasperation in his voice.
“She’s in the office,” Hazel offers, “working on the communications strategy.”
Derek sighs, tweaks his tie and scans his Blackberry for new messages, all the while emitting a slow hiss through his teeth. “And I suppose it didn’t occur to you when you convened this meeting regarding communications activities that it might be wise to invite the sole communications person within the organisation?”
Hazel blinks and shakes her head.
“May I recommend that someone phones Danielle and asks her to join us for a moment or two?”
John obliges this request, and seconds later a flustered looking Danielle appears in the doorway. “Yes?” she says accusingly.
“Hazel here tells me we’ve run out of stationery,” begins Derek. “And John here tells me that Sadie’s been saying it’s not possible to order more because you’re doing the re-branding.”
“Might I therefore ask when this re-branding will be over so we might be in a position to order more stationery, since it’s evidently a matter of most pressing urgency that seems to be grinding my commercial business to a halt and involving the efforts of every member of my staff team to resolve?”
Danielle’s lower lip begins to quiver. “I’m doing it as fast as I can,” she whimpers, “but what with the constant barrage of requests from everyone all the time and these incessant bloody meetings I just can’t focus.” She starts to cry.
“There, there, dear,” says Hazel, putting a sympathetic arm around Danielle’s shoulder.
“Barrage of requests – what a joke,” John pipes up, “all you do all day is sit on Facebook.”
“That’s not true!” Danielle protests. “And anyway, it’s not like you can talk! You’re always playing games on your computer. It’s a wonder any of the accounting gets done at all.”
“That’s true,” Sadie says without looking up from her nails. “You do play a lot of games on your computer John. Pot and kettle come to mind.”
John’s broken capillaries flare up like beacons on the hillocks of his cheeks. “I don’t have to sit here and take these accusations!” He stands up and slams a hand down on the table, leaving a sweaty hand print on the glass. Without another word he storms out of the office.
“And nor do I!” Danielle retorts. “I’ve got a bloody communications strategy to write!” She turns and flounces out of the office after John.
“Oh dear,” says Hazel, “I only wanted some new stationery…”
“Sadie,” Derek says, rising from his chair, “kindly tell all staff to desist from scheduling pointless meetings for the indefinite future. And,” he adds over his shoulder, “make a note to check the filters on the computer system.”