July 17, 2007

The Meeting

The tension in the boardroom was palpable. The president and CEO walked in through the door that led directly from his office. The executive officers all stood as he took his place at the head of the beautiful table that was designed with a subtle curve so that every person seated could see everyone else. Each person received a Policy Manual and a glass of ice water.

“Thank you all for being here, Gentlemen. And Ladies.” He gave a cursory smile before continuing. “While it must seem unusual that I’ve set up this meeting to include your spouses, rest assured you will know why soon enough. You were recently sent our revised Policy Manual in the mail to your homes, and since that time, I have heard rumors that some of you are not pleased with the changes therein.” He paused to look at every person in turn. Some of them squirmed and looked away, while others stared back, waiting for him to continue. The executives were used to his methods, but the ladies were not.

“The HR Department has told me that there are some, shall we say, concerns regarding our policies, and I thought it might be best if we sat down and addressed your concerns openly in an effort to better understand one another.”

He opened a folder and read from the HR report. “It seems we’ve received calls from two spouses in this room, questioning the company’s right to stipulate requirements that must be met in order to receive our retirement benefits package. Let’s discuss this.” Surprise rippled across the face of each executive. Each looked at his spouse to look for evidence of guilt. All but two spouses looked around as well. The two who had called were looking straight at the CEO.

The wife of the Senior VP of Marketing spoke up. “I am one of the callers, Sir.” Her husband’s head whipped toward her, and he turned red. His gulp was visible to everyone.

She continued. “I reviewed the Policy Manual, and found quite a few things that I and others here have discussed and do not agree with.” She looked at her two best friends across the table from her, but they were both looking down, lips clamped tightly shut. “The first thing I disagree with is the verbiage found throughout the Policy Manual that claims that women are not to ever be promoted as department heads or officers, because they are better suited for homemaking. Isn’t that a bit archaic?” Her husband looked like he wanted to die on the spot.

The CEO said, “Well, that’s the way our corporation has always been run, and we see no reason to change what for us has been a successful method of operation.”

“What about Section 4 of the Policy Manual? The entire section outlines the retirement package, and I agree that it sounds very generous and desirable. But the list of requirements necessary in order to receive the benefits is absolutely outrageous!”

At this, her husband grabbed her arm and said in a harsh voice, “That’s enough!”

The CEO told her it was fine to continue. Her husband put his forehead in his hands and despaired while she continued. “Well, look at page 34.” They all found the page that read:

RETIREMENT BENEFITS
• A priceless mansion in our exclusive gated retirement community.
• Ability to live forever with your CEO who is also retired.
• Become automatic CEO of your own corporation, complete with guidebook that tells you all things you need to know to do it perfectly.
• Ability to make your corporation into whatever you desire it to be.
• As many employees as you need to help your corporation thrive.
• Ability to have as many wives as you desire, as long as they are virgins and they are pleasing to your first wife (who will be expected to accept your choices).
• Freedom to have as many children as you’d like. There will always be room enough to house all your wives and children.

REQUIRED TO RECEIVE RETIREMENT BENEFITS
• Behave as a man should at all times, exercising kindness to your wife and children as outlined on page 8.
• Pay 10% of total household gross earnings back to corporation.
• Take one special initiatory swim in the Corporate Pool of Healing Waters.
• Accept and use gift of Corporate Blackberry that chimes using a still, small voice whenever it senses you are about to make an unwise choice, or when you need to know something is true or not. Learn to follow this direction in your individual life.
• Marry a woman (only) in our Corporate Marriage Room, which only the VP of Interpersonal Relations may perform, as he’s the only one qualified.
• Be willing to have your wife raise your children at home.
• Employee’s wife must agree to support her husband in all things, and admit that he presides over her in all things.
• Attend every meeting the Corporation sets up individually or as a family, as required.
• Employee’s wife must agree that motherhood is all she needs to focus on, because this is the best thing she can aspire to. Besides, it suits her.
• Dedicate every Sunday to the CEO.
• Must promise complete honesty, and tell CEO any time you fail to comply with requirements, then:
• Do whatever is asked of you to make it right.
• Follow the Corporate Health Food Regimen as outlined in the Policy Manual, page 6.
• Kneel and ask the CEO to help you and your family at least twice daily; also with every meal thank your CEO for giving you your food.
• Teach all others in word and action that our Corporation is the only one they should buy from.
• Study the Corporate Policy Manual and Corporate Mission Statement.
• Listen to and obey the inspired words of the CEO, CFO and Vice Presidents above you.

ACTIONS THAT CAUSE IMMEDIATE LOSS OF BENEFITS
• Marriage to someone of same gender.
• Sexual intercourse with someone of same gender.
• Unmarried sexual intercourse with someone of opposite gender without telling CEO as required.
• Failure to comply with all requirements in list above.

They all listened to her read the list, and afterward she turned to the CEO. “This list is appalling! How can you actually promote your slogan, “THE BEST CORPORATION. PERIOD.” when you can’t even offer benefits to ALL your employees, who, by the way, are all male? This is insane. I can’t believe that so many men with brilliant minds are sitting here as if the benefits package outweighs the obvious sexism, homophobia, and control tactics it contains. You think it’s OK for your wives and daughters to be treated this way! And you women sit here too as if it’s perfectly fine to agree with the list and defer all rights of leadership and family matters to your husbands! Well, I for one DO NOT agree.”

The CEO stood up. “That’s perfectly fine if you choose not to agree. That will simply mean that you choose not to enjoy the Retirement Benefits Package, and your husband will also not receive it either. Are there any other concerns?”

The only black VP raised a hand. “I am the fourth generation in my family to work in this esteemed Corporation. My father told me that he and his father and grandfather were not eligible for any Retirement Benefits just because they were black. And they were still required to pay in 10% of their gross earnings to their CEO and to follow most of the requirements, without the retirement benefit. Was that really our corporate policy up until only 30 years ago? That’s just not right.”

The CEO asked, “Why does that old policy bother you now? It’s old news. It was simply the way it was done back then. It didn’t mean anything. Your father and grandfathers were totally valued for their hard work. They were told that all the time. I know nobody complained about it then at all.” The black VP sat there shaking his head and holding his wife’s hand.

“Sir, what about John and me?” The VP of Communications pointed to his spouse. “John and I were legally married in Massachusetts over a year ago, and you still refuse to give us the Retirement Benefit. Why do you give it to heterosexual married couples and not to us? Our marriage is every bit as legal as yours is, Sir.”

The CEO said, “This is simply the way I have set up my benefits package. It’s not that I don’t value you, it’s just that it’s not natural for you to want to have sex with another man! Eeeeew! Either remain celibate and get retirement benefits, or enjoy immoral sex and forfeit your retirement benefits. The choice is completely yours, and I respect whatever you choose. But the policy stands. I’m not changing it. Why would I? I’m completely satisfied with it.”

The CEO asked if there were any other matters of concern. Nobody spoke up, so he stood to conclude the meeting. “I’d like to thank you all for coming. It certainly feels good to know that you all understand the new Policy Manual, and that you’ll follow and obey the rules that will enable you to receive full benefits and support from me. I appreciate your open critiques of what some of you see as “problems” with our policies. Rest assured that this corporation is a corporation of order, and the policies were written to help you maintain the correct order for full success of our corporation.

“If you end up not receiving the Retirement Benefits Package, that will only be because you willingly and knowingly chose that fate for yourself. Your actions will have proven to those of us in the exclusive gated retirement community that you’re simply more comfortable with your own personal retirement plan that doesn’t include luxury in a mansion of your own in my presence.

"That will be all, ladies and gentlemen. Good day.”

The CEO walked back into his office and closed the door.

13 comments:

hm-uk said...

Your last two blog entries brilliantly outline power structures and what happens to people who are given too much power and authority over others - period. My ninth grade Civics teacher used to quote (from another source), "Absolute power, corrupts absolutely."

However, if you'd like to wrest power from the evil empire, I'll jump on your bandwagon. I think that anyone with an avatar as saucy as yours deserves as much power as you can get.

CV Rick said...

I've been in that corporation and seen that policy manual. What a bunch of crap. I've complained about it, but to no avail.

So, I'm the worst kind of employee . .

I'm a quitter.

(really nice post, Lisa)

Sideon said...

I love Holy Ghost Blackberry units. Move over red Batphone, with a line directly to Gawd! I like the thought of something so simple and subtle, a personal chime that saves us from ourselves.

This post is delicious: rules are by the Corporation and for the benefit of the Corporation and individuals are blatantly ignored or disenfranchised, the questioning women look 100 times stronger than their pathetic tow-the-line husbands, and the CEO couldn't be more arrogant.

I loves me some excellent SML writing.

Cele said...

I'm with Sid I love the Blackberry.

Lisa you are blessed with wit, humor, and insight.

Paulina said...

wow...I am impressed with your short parable, it really puts it into perspective.

paranoidfr33k said...

Awesome!
Brilliant!
Ingenious!

Lisa does it again.

You put the church's doctrine and teachings into a context that is easy to understand and enjoyable to read and relate to.

Great post!

/paranoidfr33k

Melliferous Pants said...

That retirement package sounds like fucking hell.

dartman113 said...

Very Nice my dear! And if Sid can say "delicious" ~ I can say "scrumptious"
Love D

Janet M Kincaid said...

I've said it before, SML, and I'll say again and again until I'm blue in the face: YOU ARE BRILLIANT.

Your ability to capture the structure of Mormonism in simple, lay language is stunning and spot on. Most TBMs either wouldn't get that it is about them and their beliefs or would think "well, what's wrong with this corporation?" Those who are thinkers and shakers will read it and know that the 'Corporation' you've described is nucking futz!

Once again, I worship at your feet!

from the ashes said...

Damn, girl, that was great!

If I may be so bold, I would suggest that the Blackberry's chime not be actually audible. But people "think" they hear it, of course, and people convince themselves they hear it. An Emperor's New Clothes kind of thing.

Not that I could improve upon your brilliance. MWAH!

Sister Mary Lisa said...

HM ~ thank you very much. Saucy, hm? I like that.

CV Rick ~ you quitter. And thanks for the compliment.

Sid ~ I loves me some excellend Sid writing too (hint, hint...)

Cele ~ you are too kind.

Paulina ~ thanks.

Fr33k ~ thank for all the adjectives!

Ms. Pants ~ I agree. It's like a horrid place full of control and non-choice..much like church. Ugh.

Dartman ~ delicious and scrumptious, huh? Interesting.

Janet ~ please don't go blue in the face, OR worship at my feet. I think you're great too, however.

FTA ~ Oh, that's great! I wish I'd have thought of that. That would be a good edit to use. :)


....You are all very kind in your compliments. Thanks.

Beulah said...

Wow. Excellent post!

Under.Construction said...

I missed so many of your writings while on vacation SML! This is great! I loved the analogy. Great writing, but it makes me want to give up writing myself,and just read others! :-)