Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

Flash Fiction #6 - Business 101

Stuck to reality this time. Can't imagine why? hahaha I think maybe a trip back to Jezina’s world is called for sometime soon :) In the meantime . . .

Business 101

Her eyes wandered, oh so discretely checking the clock on the far wall. Jacob caught her eye and smirked, knowing exactly what she’d been doing and wishing he’d chosen a seat on an angle that would let him do the same. She smiled slightly in acknowledgment and forced herself to focus on the team meeting.

This lasted just long enough to realize they were still arguing – sorry debating – over the stupidest little details. She really just couldn’t bring herself to care whether it was a semi-colon or a period between those two phrases.

She wondered idly if these people sitting around the table really cared or if it was just something to do to kill time and feel important. Cathy was arguing vehemently for the elegance of the semi-colon, while Peter felt the period made for a much stronger statement; Alison left them to their discussion and retreated to her own world.

She forced a tiny portion of her mind to stay at the meeting which enabled her to nod at appropriate times while she enjoyed a detailed and thoroughly appealing daydream involving a tropical island beach and a scantily clad cabana boy. Just as it was getting good and she was working to keep from smiling and giving herself away, her reality was rudely interrupted by the sound of her own name.

“Alison, what do you think?”

“I try really hard not to.” was the immediate response from the daydreaming side of her brain; fortunately for her, the small piece that had been left to supervise the meeting kicked in and substituted “I firmly believe it’s critical we resolve this issue in a way that is most consistent with our global marketing strategy.” She held her breath for that moment of anxiety while she waited to see if her complete non-answer made any sense in the context of whatever they’d been discussing.

“Alison’s absolutely correct!” her boss stated emphatically much to her relief and Jacob’s disgust. Jacob was Alison’s peer and the only person in the room who both got how ridiculous the whole corporate culture was and yet still made a genuine effort. And because of this he bitterly resented her natural rhetorical abilities that enabled her to daydream the meeting away and provide respected answers while he had to stay fully engaged and would still never be asked his opinion.

Two painful hours later the meeting wrapped up with all parties convinced important decisions had been made. Jacob had pages of notes; Alison had a scribbled drawing of a beach umbrella. He caught up with her as she was clearing her desk to go home.

“So just out of curiosity, do you have even the slightest idea what went on in that meeting?” he asked, more resigned than bitter by this point. Someday, Alison acknowledged, he’d probably go far – but she was going to enjoy the trip a whole lot more.

“Of course,” Alison stated positively. And then summed up three hours they’d never get back in three words: “the period won.”


Oh loved it! Hahaha. You've gotten those tedious corporate meetings down pat.

Giving non-answers in situations like these always seem to work; don't know why.

By the way, Team Semi-Colon! ;)


Did this happen to be inspired by our recent celebration of (Inter?)National Punctuation Day? I loved it, particularly your use of the hated semicolon. Who hasn't suffered through meetings like that. The only thing missing were the brain dead PowerPoint slides. :)

I tweeted your link just now. Hate for it to be so late in the day, but I just got home.

Thanks for posting.


hahaha Jon not necessarily inspired by, but that's definitely why it got to be the topic of the ummmm arguably less than critical debate :)


I liked it, Laur :) Giant corporate bureaucracy often ends up in my fiction, too.

On the other hand, wasn't Rogers in a multi-million dollar lawsuit a couple years back that hinged on the placement of a comma in a contract?


The endless triviality of business meetings... Good job!


That sums up most business meetings, all right. Dilbert prose form. Nice story!


Heh, I wish I could argue about semi-colons in the meetings I go to!

You've captured it well - business meetings: how to not make a decision.


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