Sunday, February 4, 2001

OK, so last Monday at work, we had this big meeting at 9:30 a.m. I like to be ready for meetings well in advance, so I walked into the conference room 15 minutes early. Being the only person in there, I got bored quickly.

I slid around to the whiteboard, wiped off whatever was there, and drew a cartoon on the board, mainly for practice. This cartoon has sadly been lost to posterity, but I’ll explain it here: two guys are talking. In the first panel, the first guy says, “…yeah, we really think we’ll revolutionize the engineering market,” and the second guy replies “Wow, that sounds really good.” In the second panel, the second guy asks, “So, when do you plan to be ready?” and the first guy replies, “April.” The third and final panel shows the second guy laughing his head off, and the first guy just looking peeved.

A few folks wandered in as I finished, and chuckled at what I’d done. We had our meeting, left, and I thought that that would be the end of it.

At about 2:00 that day, my boss Tina sent me an e-mail titled “Stop by my desk when you have a chance.” I swallowed hard, then walked over. She ushered me over to the empty part of the office, as dire thoughts ran through my head.

“Did you draw that cartoon?” she asked. Oh, great. I said, “Yes,” and she explained that the managers had held a meeting and discussed it. Oh, great.

She went on to allay my fears: nobody minded the cartoon itself; they were worried that the engineers may be thinking that our April deadline is ridiculous. I assured her that that is not the case; what I drew was just the first joke that came to mind. She was relieved, and that was all she wanted to talk about.

That wasn’t the end of the story, though. A little while later, I decided to take a walk, and as I was walking through the office to leave, I strode by the conference room where I’d drawn the cartoon. An evil thought entered my mind, and I slipped into the room unnoticed. I quickly changed the last panel, so that both guys had perfectly neutral expressions, and the second guy said, “Yes, that seems perfectly reasonable.” I hoped at least one of the managers who had discussed the cartoon would see the changed one.

I went for my walk, and returned to my desk. Tina stopped by a little later, smirked, and said, “Now it’s even funnier.” Turns out that all of the managers had happened to have a meeting in that very conference room after I’d changed the cartoon. When Tina entered, everyone was pointing out the change in the cartoon.

So, it all worked out. I’ll keep drawing cartoons here and there, without fear of reprisal from management. And, evidently, they think I’m funny. :-)

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