Monday, August 13, 2007

Corporate Communications #1: Pamela

Back in the halcyon days when minicomputers had totally usurped the place of mainframes in the corporate information processing scene and relegated mainframes to trivial stuff like running payroll (but before the advent of the PCs, before desktop systems totally usurped the place of minicomputers and relegated minis to trivial stuff like running servers), unlike many analysts I was pretty good with both hardware and software and, unlike almost all analysts, I was pretty good at talking to people so I was getting along pretty happily in my job as a junior analyst for a giant insurance company.

One of the departments I supported was the Corporate Communications department. My favorite employee within Corporate Communications was named Pamela.

I had a crush on Pam.

Pamela was a reporter for the in-house newspaper. (It wasn’t a newsletter, it was an actual newspaper. Giant corporations have stuff like that.) Pamela was kind of tall, kind of thin, kind of blonde and kind of energetic. She hoped to use her work on the corporate newspaper to wrangle a job as a real reporter for the Sun Times or Tribune.

That Lois Lane stuff really knocked me out. I’m attracted to women who are focused and energetic.

But Pamela wasn’t interested in anything I was selling. Totally not interested.

The whole corporate wiz-kid thing I had going on (back then) meant nothing to her.

Didn’t care about my hardware or software skills. Didn’t care about my telecommunications skills. Didn’t care about my ability to talk to people. Didn’t care that I had lunch now and then with the really cool women like Heidi from Office Services or Linda from Graphic Design. Didn’t care that the CEO and CFO asked for me personally when they had tech glitches.

Pamela was. Not. Interested.

Epistemology, metaphysics, ethics, aesthetics, politics— All my weaponry was as nothing arrayed against the impenetrable shield of disinterest Pamela erected around herself.

It was as if I was batting in Comiskey Park and Pam was pitching in Wrigley Field.

One afternoon Pamela and I were together in an elevator.

I don’t remember exactly what I was blathering about. I was probably talking about E. B. White, about how he was one of my favorite writers and how he got started in the newspaper business, blah, blah, blah... Whatever I was saying, I remember Pamela wasn’t even pretending to be interested. She was staring up, watching the floor numbers change as the elevator ascended.

Before the elevator got to Pam’s floor or mine, it stopped, the doors opened and a yuppie-looking guy got on.

Pamela immediately got all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. “Hey, oh, hi, Jeff!” she said. “Long time no see!”

Jeff mumbled something about being really busy.

“Hey, I know how it is,” Pam said. “Hey, you know, we should go out after work. Grab a brew. Catch up on what’s going down.”

Jeff mumbled something about being really busy, but said he’d give her a call.

The doors opened at Jeff’s floor and he got out. “Hey, cool,” Pam said, “I’m looking forward to your call!”

Later that afternoon I was sitting at my desk in my cubicle. My friend Bob was sitting next to my desk.

Bob was a corporate Old Timer. He was a middle manager who’d worked at the corporation for decades. He’d Seen It All. And Bob was a street-wise kind of guy. He’d seen the world. He knew How Things Worked.

I recounted my scene in the elevator with Pam for Bob. I said, “So, she said they should go out after work. ‘Grab a brew.’ That’s what she said. ‘Grab a brew. Catch up on what’s going down.’ How come, Bob, no woman ever asks me to go out and ‘grab a brew?’”

Bob burst out laughing. He laughed so hard he had to put his hand over his mouth to keep from disturbing folks in other cubicles. But he continued laughing. Finally he stood up and, while he was laughing, said he had to get back to his office. He was still laughing when he left my cubicle and, when he got into the corridor, I heard him actually guffawing.

And he never answered my question. At least not in any way I wanted to hear.

No comments: