Last Wednesday, I shared the story of a bully meeting his match. A story of how my supporting Audit Manager called Mr., X’s insecure bluff and scared him into accepting my apology. The story doesn’t end there. Following that brief meeting, our investigative work continued, and many system flaws and weaknesses were uncovered. So many flaws and weaknesses that the audit team came very close to including an extra paragraph in their letter to be included in the company’s Annual Report. No one ever wants that extra paragraph!
Instead, the Audit Partner accepted the lamest collection of “mitigating controls” ever assembled and gave the company a clean opinion. He followed that with a scathing Management Letter which quickly led to my being invited to a meeting with the manager of the system at the center of the problems.
I agreed to meet, but I informed the manager that I would be bringing “DT” with me, in order to answer any specific questions. DT was the person whose offhand remark about the situation had inadvertently offended an employee, thus causing the meeting with Mr. X.
DT was a developer, a programmer who spent most of his time working with other programmers and various bits of equipment. This was the first meeting of this kind he had been invited to. He was nervous and wondered if he should really be going with me. I told him:
“This is probably just a formality. They need to be able to tell their bosses that they met with us, discussed the Management Letter recommendations and that we’re all happy. We’ll go there, they’ll have coffee and donuts, we’ll chit-chat for a while, go over the recs and we’ll be on our way. Don’t worry.”
When we arrived that the building, we had to sign in at the security station. Ironically, that had been one of our findings, that the security station was often unmanned. A receptionist met us and offered to lead us to the conference room. Once outside the room, she offered a murky: “They’re waiting for you inside” which made me wonder if Rod Serling was about to step out from behind the plants and tell a viewing audience that DT and I were about to enter the Twilight Zone.
We opened the door and stepped inside. We were taken aback at the sight of a rectangular grouping of conference tables with 15 people already sitting and two empty chairs at the end closest to us. DT looked at me and, loud enough for all to hear, said:
“Does this mean we’re not having donuts?”
DT and I burst into uncontrolled and totally inappropriate laughter. The meeting went sharply downhill from there, but as my mentor from the future, John Luc Picard would say: “Sometimes, you just have to bow to the absurd.”
This post is part of Linda G. Hill’s fun weekly series One-Liner Wednesday. If you have a one-liner, I’d encourage you to join in on the fun. You can follow this link to participate and to see the one-liners from the other participants.