Monday, February 23, 2009

A Primer In Management Efficiency

As a pretend efficiency consultant, I’m often asked how to make fast, powerful decisions. I typically take four or five minutes to form a response, thereby discouraging future questions of that nature. Still, I’m now releasing this post, containing a brief example of my style. Take my words to heart, and you too can be recognized — and rewarded — for smart thinking by the highest echelons!

Darth Vader shakes hands with President Richard Nixon.
Wafting down from Heaven, delicate flakes of snow built up around my boots as I took another swing with my axe. Wiping sweat and condensation from my reddened cheeks, I stepped back and took a few deep breaths as the sinews holding the bark together gave way.

With a shout of “TIMBER!” the few birds who thought it safe to remain within the doomed branches took flight; the venerable pine bent as if in pain, the icy coating on its bristles biting it from above while I attacked from below.


A final, merciful blow from my axe made short work of the majestic tree.

After the inevitable ground-shaking crash, the forest was silent. I surveyed the trunk from this new, unnatural perpendicular angle: there was enough lumber here to build a small house.

Mopping the sap up with handfuls of snow, I tried tallying up the rings but called it quits after around 200, when I noticed that I’d missed about 50 or so very thin rings that weren’t really visible at the edge I’d been counting. There must’ve been a drought those years.

There’s enough firewood here to heat a castle, I thought as a shiver ran down my spine.

Sighing contentedly, I buried my axe in the still-oozing trunk. “That was relaxing.”

I rubbed my hands together and opened the studio’s back door, where a blast of heat from the diesel-powered furnace instantly brought the feeling back to my face. The coat rack groaned as I unloaded my heavy winter overcoat and pinned my mittens to the zipper. All interested parties in the room turned to puzzle at my strange ways as I dropped to the ground and writhed to my waiting chair using only my belly for transportation.

“Did you get me the box of toothpicks I asked for?” Travis grizzled, his fingers crudely trying to dislodge a grizzly fragment of pork wedged between his back left molars.

I cringed.

Ripples of laughter broke out within the pool of applicants; my facial expressions are hilariously risqué. So much so that photographs of my head — in both digital and analog formats — do not, and will not, develop. The only person to peruse such a boondoggle was Edgar Allan Poe, who attempted to create an amateur daguerreotype on the 2nd of October, 1849. No further attempts have been made.

“Some assembly may be required,” I aimed my eyebrows out the frost-caked window at the felled pine. Snow blanketed it like dirt on a casket.

Travis cut me off. “I think we should let the Questionable Mark into the league. This résumé—”

“DENIED. I could not possibly disagree more with your decision than I did 0.059 seconds ago. My anger is waning, hence the incremental drop in RAGE.”

Wee ha ha! In reality, I had no strong opinion whatsoever on the matter. However — there being only two of us to judge these miscreants — taking the contrarian position would force us to settle on a process for resolving what purists call “ties.”

Some jurists would call my method “collusion” and refuse to issue a decision. Overruled, yo!

“I never imagined I would miss Codex so much,” the hypnotist huffed, unpocketing a photo of the three of us taken just two weeks ago. It was hard to believe Yellow Fever acted so quickly. “He was the voice of sanity.”

“Sanity? He murdered his family and sold their teeth.”

“No he didn’t.”

“He routinely adopted stray cats and dogs and performed gruesome experiments on them while in med school.”

“No, he didn’t.”

“He used his impressive knowledge of ancient languages to forge a Syriac bible and tried to convince the pope to issue a papal bull stating that Jesus stuttered and that his eyes were two different colors.”

“No he didn’t!”

“He purchased a two-minute commercial during the Super Bowl, misleading viewers into thinking that two bottles of colloidal silver every day could reverse hair loss. Colloidal silver causes argyria, a condition that turns skin bluish-gray. He said he did it to pay homage to the Blue Man Group.”

“He had one of their CDs!”

“He ran an investment firm for charities and spent 20 years pocketing his clients’ money and giving them bogus numbers. $30 billion evaporated overnight, and he was busted by federal agents trying to charter a private jet to Ecuador. What little he actually invested went into ant farms.”

Travis drummed his fingers on the oaken table and checked his watch. “No.”

“Can we move this along, seriously?” the Questionable Mark interjected, leaning over on his uncomfortable wooden stool. “My wife is seriously very ill, seriously.”

“Your wife is two dwarves in a trenchcoat with a bad wig and a good story!” I shouted, barely cognizant of the lowlife’s desire for an expedited submission. Darn fool talked funny.

Crumbs from a thousand possible sources rolled down my seams as I rose. There was a bit of sadness to my swagger, my trademark jolliness tempered by the recent loss of my dear friend Codex. But thanks to a brilliant Santa Barbara taxidermist, I would see him every morning and night on my way to the bathroom.

“Where are we going?” Travis Read — you forgot his last name, didn’t you? Admit it. — begged as I towed him towards the exit, padlock and chain in hand.

The villainous… well, villains… were already cranky and overheated. Factor in their violent natures and superpowers, and you’ve got a powderkeg waiting to go off. Now, *licks lips* if I’ve learned one thing from my last job vetting cabinet appointees for Barack Obama, there’s only one tried and true way to whittle down a list of applicants.

“Hey, everyone!” I shouted, hurling Travis out the steel door into a growing snowbank while using my other hand to toss a symbolic gauntlet on the studio floor, “Last one left alive gets the job!”

Three or four laser beams singed the door as I quickly slammed it shut and chained it. As I helped Travis up (a debt he could never repay), bestial wailing and screams of terror, warcries and unheeded pleas for mercy, flooded the restrictive air.

I opened the bags of cocoa mix as Travis unlocked the hovercraft’s front door and set up the portable hotplate. We scooped up two cups of snow and put it on; we’d need to continuously add to it as the snow melted. It would take a while, so we set off in the opposite direction to build a snowman.

Smiling contentedly, the two of us were patting down the snowman’s midsection when a human head smashed through the studio’s bulletproof glass window and landed right where we were going to put the snowman’s head!

“Can you say ‘serendipity?’” Travis joked. “Who do you think will end up on top? Smart money’s on Questionable Mark. Or maybe Overkill.”

I ignored him and straightened an old felt top hat on the head while slipping lumps of coal into the vacant eye sockets. “Go check to see if the water is boiling yet. I don’t want any bacteria in my cocoa,” I bade him, burying two arm-like branches in the snowman.

Ah, how relaxing. Nothing could ruin this perfect day — except a stampede of rhinoceroses. But that was just impossible. For one thing, rhinoceroses don’t live in this part of the world. They also could not exist in this climate, and certainly couldn’t stampede in such a thick forest.

Rhinoceroses are basically fat unicorns.


Jon the Intergalactic Gladiator said...

He's got two diferently colored eyes? Who woulda guessed that Jesus was a Mary Sue.

Jon the Intergalactic Gladiator said...

He's got two diferently colored eyes? Who woulda guessed that Jesus was a Mary Sue.