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7/26/2002
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Business Technology: A Trip To The Cafeteria, Part V

So the CFO asks you to join him for lunch but he won't say why and since he's not exactly the warm-and-fuzzy type you're a tad uneasy so when he asks if you wouldn't mind joining him at his Herringbone Foxtrot Skeet Club you say you can't make that but suggest instead that the company cafeteria is serving a particularly nice Salisbury steak with mashed potatoes and two (2) vegetables and you'll not only join him today but you'll even spring for the whole tab so he groans but agrees and you hang up as the VP of human resources across your desk resumes with "So I really hope we can get past this issue you have about selecting people to be entered into the companywide workforce downsizing initiative on the basis of merit rather than potential legal exposure because we potentially face litigious repercussions over a cessation of the employer-employee covenant as it pertains to individuals not specifically represented broadly in the socio-ethnic-gender-height-weight fabric of our employee infrastructure so your insistence on retaining individuals predicated on what you refer to as merit is a historical metric and is no guarantee of their ability to continue to perform at those traditionally high levels so I need to know by 3:00 today whether you will sign off on the list of candidates I submitted to you for the employment-transitioning initiative" and the pain behind your eyebrows makes you think of that passage in Tom Wolfe's The Bonfire Of The Vanities where he describes the drunken British

Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Daniel Njoroge Wanjoh serves under the United States flag, although home is thousands of miles away in Nairobi, Kenya. Wanjoh is among at least 15,000 foreign nationals serving in the military who became immediately available for citizenship, thanks to a Fourth of July gift from President Bush. The presidential order applies to anyone serving in the armed forces on Sept. 11. Qualifying foreign nationals may now apply for citizenship right away, rather than first wait three years. ... As a new citizen, Wanjoh, who speaks seven languages, said he will be able to apply to work in military intelligence and bring his mother and two sisters to the country. More than 31,000 noncitizens are currently serving on active duty--about 3 percent to 4 percent of America's total military personnel.
--Seth Hettena, The Associated Press, July 20


journalist's hangover as the thin outer membrane of a shelled egg that's just barely holding together when your Palm bongs to alert you that it's time to meet the CFO so you look up from the list the HR VP had given you and that your face has been pointed at for the past 10 minutes but that you really haven't actually seen and you say "I'm sure I'll get back to you by 3:00 and thanks for all your help" and as you head for the door your assistant hands you an article that the vice chairman dropped off and on it is scribbled a note that says "I read this in the in-flight magazine last month" and you see it's written by a has-been game-show host and carries the headline "Why The Mac Is More Environmentally Sound Than The PC" and the vice chair has added "Let's talk!" at the bottom and you wait until you're a couple of cubicles away before you crumple it up and hit a 3-pointer in a distant wastebasket as that cautious part of your brain starts to crank out all the questions why the CFO suddenly wants to chat and as you turn the corner into the cafeteria there he is and he gives a quick and empty smile and then asks if you've gotten the registered letter from the CEO saying that all senior managers must affix notarized signatures on all financial statements before the CEO himself will sign them and you say you signed and sent back your form a few days ago and the CFO wonders how solid the new financial system is and you ask what he means and he says well can anyone not authorized tamper with it and you say no of course not and then he wonders if an authorized person can go in after the books are technically closed and make a change and you say yes but the person's identity and changes would be logged and he asks if there's any way around that and as you're about to ask for the Salisbury steak you get that fluxuous feeling just inside your belt and ask instead for a bowl of sawdust and chalk and you tell him to get to the point and he laughs nervously and says he's just asking a "hypothetical" question on a "hypothetical" basis and he orders saltines and oatmeal no milk and you pay and he won't look you in the eye and you recall all the extra time the software consultants spent with the CFO after you had declared the project 100% complete and he mutters that "security has become everyone's business and as CFO I'd like to know what sort of report would come out and who'd get it and is there any way to pro-forma the changes" and the ground shifts a bit beneath your feet and you're about to tell him to send you his request in writing but then you shove your tray across the table and tell him to take his questions to the CEO and remind him that you'll be monitoring any post-closing changes. Very closely.

Bob Evans
Editor-in-Chief
bevans@cmp.com


To discuss this column with other readers, please visit Bob Evans's forum on the Listening Post.

To find out more about Bob Evans, please visit his page on the Listening Post.

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