Why Was Your Name on the Whiteboard in Conference Room 4–4?

Walking into Conference Room 4–4, you’re a little early. Good. You’re not in many meetings with Senior VPs, like David Quinn. He’s already here and clearing the whiteboard from the last, wait…is that…YOUR name? It was there for a second. You’re sure of it. Why would your name be on the whiteboard? If David saw you see it, he doesn’t let on. Ice cold. That’s how you make Senior V.P. So, push it out of your mind. Really focus this whole meeting and you can figure it out later. Don’t drift off like you usually do in these things.

Everyone else files in and Jim sits across from you. He smiles at you. Jim. Was Jim’s name on the board? And why was your name so low on the board? The bottom of the board can’t be good. The top is always better. Is it layoffs? You heard that Q4 was below projections, but it wasn’t YOUR fault! You can’t lose your job until at least March. If you can make it to March, you’ll have the furniture bill from Macy’s paid off and then you could be unemployed. You can get by for at least a couple of months on unemployment if you need to. You’ll just make coffee at home instead of going to Starbucks every day. Easy budgetary things like that.

Oh crap, the meeting already started and you were zoned out. David is looking in your direction. You better nod and jot something down. “Dry cleaning.” You hope no one looks at your notes. In the previous meeting, you drew Batman. (The Kelley Jones version with the long ears that some people mistakenly think of as horns.) They’re already to Karen talking about logistics now. Logistics are important, you need to tune back in. Was Karen’s name on the board, or was it just yours?

You should ask a question, but you weren’t listening, were you? Idiot. Just repeat what Karen said to her and make it sound like a question. Good. Nice. You’re back on track just stick with this and when the meeting is over you can — when did you open your laptop!? Are you in G-mail? Well, you can’t shut it now! Stop reading The Skimm and switch to Outlook. Open a spreadsheet. ANY spreadsheet. Ugh, this spreadsheet. Not your best work. It’s decent enough, but could really use some more styling. You thought being in sales would be exciting, but it’s mostly spreadsheets. Like how real cops say that 90 percent of police work is paperwork, not how they show it on television. Hell, Brian’s dad said he retired having never pulled his gun…

Why are you looking at the whiteboard again? Oh, god. You can still make out the “R” from the end of your name. Could they be putting together a charity golf event? They know you played in college. No, that’s dumb. Think. Okay, Outlook it still open, swap over to the calendar tab, select conference room 4–4 and see who was in the meeting before this one. “Management Meeting” What the hell does that mean? Your boss is talking now. He wasn’t here when you arrived, so if Keith wasn’t there, then it can’t be something that directly affects you. You don’t love this job, but it pays well. To be honest the idea of having to make your own coffee sounded like too much work and it never tastes as good for some reason.

See, you’re good. You were worried about nothing. Everything is fine. Just relax. It was probably just an org-chart drawing. You should figure out how to move up the org-chart so you aren’t at the bottom of the whiteboard anymore. This meeting was the last thing scheduled for you this afternoon, so you might as well call it an early day.

The Blue Jackets are playing tonight and they’re on a hot streak. This could finally be their year. Only two more hours with your head down in your well-decorated cube checking out rugs on Pinterest to go with the furniture you’ll be paying off in March and then you’re free to find a place to watch the game. You might as well order a rug tonight since after the charity golf event you’ll have impressed everyone and be moving up the org chart. What do you think your new title will be?

Hey, people are leaving, you must be done! Another hour-long meeting and you survived. No one called on you and you can just get back to the — hold-up… Did David just say your name? (He knows your name!) You’re supposed to follow him back to his office! You might want to focus for this one. He looks serious, but he’s wearing the funky socks with green stripes today. Senior V.P.s always seem to wear funky socks; you should start wearing funky socks…



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Erik Sternberger

Comedy writer, screenwriter and improvisor that always listens to the Star Wars soundtrack when driving in a snow storm. All work linked at eriksternberger.com