It was Johnathan’s first day back from leave and by ten o’clock he was already stuck in his first meeting. Of all the graduate positions he could have taken he couldn’t understand how or why he ever thought the public service was a good idea. To make things worse, he had ended up in The Crypt – the Department for Aging and Veteran Affairs – and he was convinced it was the land that personality forgot, his team being of the distinctly bland variety. He couldn’t wait until his six months was over and he got rotated to Treasury. It was all happening there.
Still suffering culture shock after two weeks at Club Med, Johnathan straightened his tie and stumbled into the meeting room, grabbing a biscuit from the generous platter in the centre of the table before slouching down at the back of the room; the grinning faces of nameless octogenarians stared down at him from the posters covering the meeting room, urging him to eat up. He smiled politely at his co-workers and everyone settled in as Terry, their team leader, strolled into the room.
“Hello everyone and good morning!” he beamed. “Nice tan, Johnathan, I trust your little island sojourn was most pleasant?” Johnathan gritted his teeth and forced a smile. “Ok team, since we all know why we’re here, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty,” Terry paused to grab a ginger snap from the platter. “After last week’s meeting, I’ve come up with a multifaceted approach that should be able to tackle the issue from all sides, and I’m sure you’ll all agree this is the best way to move forward.
“Firstly, we’ll be setting up two new sub-committees on leisure and recreation issues and they’ll need to meet weekly at least, which should put a big dint in the problem. Secondly, I think we should start a liaison group to facilitate better interchange with the War Widows division . . . “
“Woah, slow down Terry!” cut in Bruce, one of the unit’s dinosaurs. “Should we really be talking directly to that lot like that? Shouldn’t we go through the proper channels?”
“Brilliant Bruce! We’ll set up a liaison group to liaise with their senior management, then work our way down to the War Widows division . . . “
Johnathan cleared his throat and raised his hand slightly to get attention. “Sorry, Terry, but I think I’ve missed something – why are we setting up all these new committees? What exactly is the problem here?”
“You didn’t get the email?” asked Terry.
“I’m still clearing out my inbox, I got a lot of mail while I was away.” 322 to be precise – almost all of them cat pictures or “inspirational” powerpoints from his coworkers, most of whom still found email a novelty.
“Oh, god, you don’t know about the budget problem then?”
“What budget problem?”
“Well, this is huge!” said Terry. “Turns out there was a glitch in our stationary order some time back and we unded up with four hundred packets of biscuits . . . “
“What?! Biscuits aren’t stationary!”
“They are on the Government-mandated supply catalogue and for whatever reason we’ve ended up with boxes and boxes of them . . . “
“And what’s that got to do with anything? Why all the committees?”
“Well, we’ve got to use them up – the use-by date expires in three months! The more meetings, the more biscuits consumed. I thought someone with your academic credentials could see that!”
Johnathan sighed and rubbed his face. “Ok, ok, ok . . . why don’t we just donate them? I’m sure the RSL or the Country Women’s Association could use them.”
“No can do,” scoffed Bruce, “they’ve come out of our budget so they have to be used by our unit.”
“Ok, then,” continued Johnathan, “how about we hold more morning teas? Invite others on our floor, make it a team-building thing. We’ll get rid of them in no time.”
“Brilliant! That’s why you’re our Wunderkind, Johnny Boy!” declared Terry. “Ok, do I have any volunteers for the committee in charge of setting this up . . . ?”
Ahh . . . gotta love bureaucracy . . . .
Written for a short-story-a-day challenge, with the word of the day being “multifaceted”.