Friday, November 10, 2006

You Want It When?

Years ago, at my previous job, my boss was a guy named Ross. Good guy; we had several interests in common, and it wasn't uncommon for me to sit in his office telling stories for a few minutes at the start of the day.

One morning, just before Thanksgiving, I was sitting in his office doing just that, when the Vice President of Engineering came in with a large stack of papers. "Sorry to spring this on you like this," he said, "but I need all this information by twelve-fifteen."

It was already almost nine o'clock, and there was way more than three hours' worth of normally-paced work in that stack. I offered to help, and he gave me a couple items that I could handle for him. It didn't take me all that long to find what he needed, and I returned the papers to him, filled out with the necessary information.

I found him in his office working feverishly, the phone tucked between his ear and his shoulder, as he frantically gathered information for the VP. I offered to pick up more of the load, but there really wasn't anything else that I could be all that helpful with, so I returned to my 'normal' duties.

But all the rest of that morning, and into the afternoon, I saw Ross running all through the building, tracking down this or that or another item for the VP's pile of papers.

Finally, about 1:30 or so, I met him in the hall, with the papers all filled out, heading up to the VP's office. "I hope he's not too mad, but this is as soon as I could pull it all together." I wished him luck, and he went on his way.


I saw Ross later that afternoon, and I asked him how it had gone with the VP. He got an odd look on his face.

"I went into his office," he began, "and he seemed surprised to see me. That was odd, since I was more than an hour late with information that he had asked me for just this morning."

"Anyway, I apologized - 'Sorry I'm so late with this, but I just couldn't get this all together any sooner' - and I handed him the stack of papers. He was looking through them, and finally he said, 'This is great, but why did you put yourself out so much? I don't need it until the middle of next month!'

'You said you needed it by 12:15; it's already 1:30'

A wry smile crossed the VP's face: 'Not 12:15 on the clock; 12/15 on the calendar - December 15th.'"

And at that point, there was nothing left to say, except for both of us to break down laughing. . .


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