Chapter 1 - The Friday Meeting

It was much too late on Friday afternoon for a meeting, so Harmony suggested the Starbucks on the mezzanine of the food court at the hub of the tri-towers' skyway connecting ramp. Randy wasn't sure what the current name of the food court was, as it seemed to change three or four times a year and who could keep up? Everyone just referred to it as the “food court” regardless of the name, which he always thought was kind of funny—as if it was a court of law for food. He had mentioned that once—that he thought that was funny—to a co-worker—but the co-worker pretended not to hear him.

The meeting had been strongly suggested by Randy's team-member at ThribbleSpec, Harmony, a woman so young that she did not remember a time before there were Starbucks in the skyways and other urban public areas, and just assumed that's where people bought their coffee since the American Revolution. Of course, she knew better, and was educated with an advanced degree in law and management, but didn't bother herself with historical details that she didn't consider important. At least that's what Randy assumed; he wasn't really sure what went on in her thoughts, not at all. He occasionally referred to other team-members as “co-workers” and Harmony was quick to correct him, as if she was his superior, though part of the design of the unique corporate structure of ThribbleSpec made it clear that there was no hierarchy.

Randy was old, and he remembered a time before there were Starbucks anywhere, but he couldn't remember where they bought coffee in that earlier era. He was pretty sure no one bought coffee anywhere, since it was available for free in the break-room of every company he worked at before 2009. Meetings, of course, always took place in meeting rooms, of the companies he had worked at, but ThribbleSpec didn't have meeting rooms but rather very small, but variably sized, “pods,” where team-members could go for privacy. Randy didn't like the word “pod” and he didn't like the pods themselves, as they were always either too cold or warm, and smelled like either nothing, or some product that was sprayed in the pods to remove the smell. So he was happy when Harmony suggested Starbucks.

After they each bought a “small coffee” and found a table near the window, sitting at high chairs, they each related what their weekend plans were. Randy lied and said he was going to spend the day “up north.” Harmony said she had no plans whatsoever, and Randy had no reason to believe she wasn't telling the truth. He worried that her dress was too short to be comfortable sitting at the high chairs, but she didn't seem to mind. He was also worried that one of his legs would fall asleep, as often happened while sitting at the high chairs. It was “casual Friday” at ThribbleSpec—one of two days a month designated as Casual Friday (though they weren't always on Friday)—but he had not worn his blue jeans, as he found that wearing blue jeans to work depressed him. He wondered if Harmony's dress was so short because it was casual Friday. It was alarmingly short, and he was worrying about her being uncomfortable when they switched the topic of conversation from weekend plans to “work stuff.” Because of his concern, he missed the first part of what she wanted to address at the meeting.

“Hopefully, in the very near future, this entire re-imagining will be up for review,” Randy found himself saying, though he couldn't really connect the words to a concrete intention. At the point that he started talking, he had forgotten everything that Harmony had said a moment before. “And then if we find that it comes in over x-number of dollars, or x-number of days over the goal, we can make some quick adjustments and finalize it.”

Harmony nodded like she understood what he was saying, her brow furrowed, and then talked for a few minutes in a monotone so soothing that Randy found himself not really listening. He sipped his coffee, and then, at what he felt was an appropriate interlude, continued, but abruptly stopped, and glanced back at Harmony as he flipped through the file folder he had brought to the meeting. It contained various take-out menus, so he didn't let her see what was in it. She then went on for several more minutes, before pausing to sip her coffee.

“I didn't really have my hands around it at the last meeting,” Randy admitted, though he couldn't remember what was discussed at the last meeting. “We'll have to sit down and start laying out the next steps because I don't know exactly the time-line necessary for optimization of effort. If there is a big hot-button issue that needs to be fixed, we'll get it fixed so that we can get up and running. I just think a lot of it comes down to planning, organizing, and executing—and honestly one of the things I've been kicking around is this notion that you and I should have a mid-week, informal sit-down. I've been fire-fighting a lot of these issues, and it's absolutely crucial that we're on the same page so that we don't reach the finish line before we massage the metrics.”

At that point, Harmony looked up at Randy in alarm, her head jutting forward in a very disturbing way. Randy flushed with embarrassment, but at that moment her phone buzzed and she looked at it, then back to Randy, excusing herself. He thought that she was as relieved as he was for the interruption, so he then started looking at his phone and acted like he was frantically shooting off texts left and right to team members, clients, and vendors. Then her phone buzzed again, and they both kind of hand-signaled to each other that the meeting was over, and they both made their way separately to the trash can, then back to the elevator and up to the office. By then someone was playing music, almost imperceptibly, from their phone. That pretty much unofficially marked the beginning of the weekend, at least for those not in the art department.