Briefing on Cue

The Director held his three page budget brief in his sweaty hands unable to think of anything but his belief in himself. “Sweaty hands are the result of my excitement,” he told the analyst who handed him the papers.

The person walked out of the Director’s office and back among the cubicle workers without saying anything. The Director only noticed the three pages that had the correct complement of white space and purposely lacked numbers.

“The resource committee will believe in me,” he spoke into his empty office. “I am important to the organization,” he said as if in a prayer to himself.

The meeting tomorrow with the resource committee consumed the Director’s attention the rest of that day. If it went his way, he would control more public money and direct the funds toward what he thought was important. That was all that mattered, he concluded. Not the bobbing heads of his staff in their cubicle farm who should be trying harder to make me famous, he thought.

The Director read the biographies of the resource committee. Five balding men who the Director was confident he could manipulate into giving him what he wanted. All he had to do was tell them he was saving lives. The Director considered this thought of saving lives. The gimmick worked before, but he did not know for how much longer before someone asked him what lives were saved.

“The secret is I don’t care for anyone’s life,” said the Director to the five photographs he held. “You are pitiful,” he told them only because they were only pictures.

That evening inside his suburbia apartment, the Director found the emptiness creak at him. He took a half bottle of merlot to bed. The stupor allowed him to sleep through his nightmares that he could be a failure if he looked too hard in all of the successes he thought he had achieved.

In the morning, the Director walked toward the Sun and into the Building where he forgot his nightmares and envisioned himself a beautiful leader, again.

Stomping through his staff’s cubicle, the Director wanted to yell at them to save his life that he could not save. The Director called a staff meeting.

“I need to control more public money because it will suit my needs and gain me political advantage. Don’t you people see this? You act like you’re shipwrecked in my organization. Stop that and listen only to me. I need to be successful in the budget meeting. I want the committee to give me more control of public money. I need more.” He liked this speech. He liked that public money did not need to be earned, just stolen. No one spoke or, if they did, the Director did not listen.

That afternoon in his office alone, the Director used his index finger to trace over an outline he made that listed all the people and resources he controlled in his empire. There was too much white space. His staff told him the programs under him were failing. That was their fault, he wanted them to know. They were nothing but a tiered hierarchy of lost souls fighting among themselves to help him select the next scapegoat to blame for any failure. Nothing was his fault. It couldn’t be.

Yes, he liked the rumors of him being a line hierarchy and an autocratic, despot tin god. Yes, he heard the losers just before they lost. Yes, he still had his kingdom when they were gone.

The Director only let a few of his staff talk to him before this critical meeting. They adored him and lavished infinite yeses and praise for his three slides. They told the Director how his budget brief would make him a success. They are smart, he thought, they don’t want to be the next scapegoat.

His briefing slides were out of order when he presented his case. The Director told inaccuracies that he covered over in lies. He succeeded in his failures.

The Director gave the bosses hope that they were decent, intelligent, and heroic leaders. Here was someone who needed their help. They granted him more money so he could succeed next time.

Published on November 4, 2011, by Down in the Dirt