“I Didn’t Get The Memo” by Graham Shafer
I didn’t get the memo. Now I’m sitting here at the conference table feeling like a ninny. Dan grabbed me as I was on my way to get some coffee and said, Board room. Pronto. I didn’t even get the coffee. People are filing in. Everyone has a printout of what I assume is the memo. Not me. I’ve just got my fingers laced on top of the table. Again? Jenny says. I’m always forgetting to bring something to write with. It’s a problem. One time I asked Jim if he had an extra pen on him that I could borrow. You’re a lump in this company’s scrotum, you know that? he said. I didn’t really know what he meant so I just kinda laughed. Jim’s a jerk, but everyone likes him. He plays guitar at his desk and gets really mad if anyone else tries to play it. He sings the classics and some originals and sometimes the CEO will stop by and harmonize with him.
I wonder what the memo is about. I bet it’s about how someone keeps leaving pornography in the copiers. Not the originals, just the copies. It’s almost like they’re doing it on purpose. Or it could be about sales. Sales are always an issue. If we have a Fair week instead of a Good or Excellent week everyone freaks out and we have to start a new Project File and work late. Sometimes they’ll order dinner for us if we’ve been working several late nights in a row. That’s nice, isn’t it? But the tuna salad is always the first to go and I usually get stuck with the turkey which I can tell is the loaf kind. I hate turkey loaf. And I won’t even tell you what happens for a Poor week.
More people are coming in and there’re so many that they have to bring extra chairs in. Must be some memo. I try to sneak a look at Jenny’s printout but she catches me and covers it up. There’s a lot of whispering. I catch a couple bits like, Where’s his pen? or Such a doofus. Then I start to think maybe they left me off the memo email on purpose. Maybe Jim sent it out and took my name off the list. I could totally see him doing that just to embarrass me. I don’t play guitar but it would be nice if he asked me if I wanted to hold it and have my picture taken with it or something. Just as a gesture. What if the memo’s about me? Did I mess up a Project File which in turn affected sales negatively? Am I being reprimanded? Fired, even? Someone I’ve never seen before across the room looks at his memo, nudges the guy next to him and points at me. That can’t be good.
The HR person comes in and that’s when I really start to sweat. Not figuratively, like literally. My pits get really wet like they’re crying. Crying for me getting fired, if that’s what’s happening. And my brow too. All of my sweat glands are crying. Jenny notices and says, God, what’s wrong with you? It’s like sixty degrees in here. She’s right. I start to fan myself with my hand, but that only draws more attention to the sweating, which makes me more nervous, which makes me sweat more, so I stop. People are standing against the walls because there are no more chairs. There’s a woman standing behind me so I think maybe if I offer her my seat maybe they’ll see how chivalrous I am and won’t fire me. So, really loud so everyone can hear me, I say, There are no more chairs. You’re standing up and I am sitting down. Would you like sit down? And I motion towards the chair, but since I’m still sitting it looks like I’m asking if she wants to sit on my lap. She tells me to ‘eff off and everyone around us starts shaking their heads.
When is this meeting going to start? I should send out a memo about how it always takes too long for meetings to start. If I still have a job after this one, that is. That probably wouldn’t go over well though. Jim would respond with some witty comment like, Maybe if you worried less about when meetings start and more about sales we wouldn’t have had a Fair week. He’s real witty like that. He drives a really cool car. Way cooler than mine. I don’t even have visors in my car. Somebody stole them in broad daylight. Really wish I’d gotten that memo so I wasn’t sitting here literally sweating it. Maybe I’m freaking out for no reason though. It’s probably just about new Project File protocol or something. Or Spreadsheet Specs. We’ve needed to update the Spreadsheet Specs for God knows how long. Drives me nuts.
OK, here we go. The CEO just came in. He’s walking over to Jim. He’s whispering something in his ear. Jim laughs and looks in my direction. Now the CEO’s at the front of the boardroom. I assume you’ve all read the memo I sent out this morning, he says. Everyone holds up their printout. Everyone except me, of course. The CEO notices and says, What’s the meaning of this? Sir, I didn’t get the memo, I say. He pounds his fist on the conference table and everyone gasps. Jim, the CEO says, lock the door. We’ve got a maverick on our hands. And then I feel all the hands grab at me.
Graham Shafer is a graduate of the University of Kansas. He currently lives and writes in Los Angeles.