Silent Rant

Street art, 11 Rue Lepic, Paris, France

There is a space in the middle of the communal table and a chair squeezed between two groups. Jake, after confirming it is free, moves the chair to the the opening.

Sat, his attention is monopolized by table mates, two twenty-something women. First noticed while looking for a spot, his first impression was business meeting. Sitting down, he noted they weren’t equals: one with a laptop, the other with a print out. It reminds Jake of the many job interviews he has seen take place in coffee shops and fast food joints. A manager monopolizing a table, going through a corporate checklist with the candidates CV in hand. Now he can hear bits of their discussion.

Jake wonders how a boss can think it is normal to do a performance appraisal in public. He starts doubting that they are employees of the coffee shop. The more he hears, the more he is sure they work elsewhere. This mystifies Jake even more. If they were having the meeting at work then it is a very bad choice but deliberately choosing a public space is beyond Jake’s comprehension.

They are negotiating objectives. As-if you can call a boss’ “suggestions” negotiable. And ones made in public even less so. The setup makes him distrust the boss.

The whole business is hard to ignore. It is not an issue of volume. It is that he is dialed in and the remote control is broken. The longer it goes on, the more Jake is bothered by it. The more Jake is bothered by it, the clearer the signal. Was the employee given a choice?

Occasionally adding a light coat of sugar, the boss starts bad mouthing the methods of her colleagues. It is painted as business theory. A how and why things should be done.

Jake checks himself. He is doing the same thing; being critical, negative, better-than-thou. She spends time thinking about her work. Good intentions, lots of effort. But it is not on the right things nor the right way. What is the rationale for having a private meeting in public?

It is all management guru now. The disciple’s captivity ensuring an audience. Her insecurities are showing. The teacher slash mentor role as a way to elicit validation. Benevolent dictatorship. Dressing up an alpha display as a lesson. An aggressive passive-aggressivity. Neediness signaled by a secret-sharing confidential tone. Engineering the reactions; compliments likely, agreement assured.

Jake gets up and leaves. He is enervated. His quiet journaling session became a silent rant, the too quickly empty cup the only memory of the coffee he had planned on sipping.

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