There are people who never get over the feeling of being called into the Headmaster's office - for, to them, it had always been for the modern equivalent of bending over and getting six of the best on the fleshiest part of the anatomy. You must have guessed that I am one of them, if not the most prominent of them.
I entered my boss' cabin with roughly the same shrinking sensation in the portion just below my back - a primordial response engendered from a vicarious past, where the cane met the bottom, not at all gently, with clockwork regularity. The first thing that catches my eye as I enter is the board that says
ARE YOU HERE WITH A SOLUTION OR ARE YOU PART OF THE PROBLEM?
As usual, I wonder about the quote. Was it meant for my boss himself - since HE was the one who would see it the most frequently? And how does he answer the question?
Maybe the chap came to office every day with a briefcase bulging with solutions and with a torrent of solutions knocking at the slipway of his lips, eager to pour out in a raging Niagara that would wash through the office and leave it a cleaner and better place. For me, though, HE was the problem - the whole of it and not merely a part.
He started, as usual, "We have a problem?"
This 'We' is a very nebulous thing in Boss-speak and needs to be interpreted according to context. When it comes to having problems, 'We' must be treated as meaning 'You'. If, however, the statement is "We have done a good job", then 'We' means 'I'. The conventional meaning applies only in statements like 'We have to go to a meeting'.
Having loaded me with the problem, he dismisses me to unload the next problem on the poor wight who is even now patting his bottom tenderly while waiting in the anteroom.
I come back to my seat to see my subordinate waiting for me.
"There is a problem", he says.
Ah! THAT means HE has a problem and wants ME to find a solution for it. What does he think? That I come to office with a briefcase bulging with solutions and a torrent of solutions knocking at the slipway of my lips waiting to pour out in a raging Niagara that will wash through the office and leave it a cleaner and better place?