Back when I was a kid, there was a story about an old man, his son and a donkey. No, not, ‘Mr. Hands’, you sick fucks. I’m talking about some Aesop-fable, next-level, parable shit.
On the 17th of April, I bit back some sentimental tears and hugged all of my beloved colleagues at That’s It as Head of Content once last time before taking myself off for a consolatory toasted sarmie and glass of wine.
I try to believe that all people are inherently good, that people are not so much malicious as they are self-centred. I really think that most of the time, people aren’t out to screw you so much as they just genuinely don’t care about you- they’re more concerned with their own jobs, or families or issues.
You, innocent bystander, are just in the way.
Nobody likes going to the dentist. No matter how personable, attractive or nice your dentist is, you probably anticipate biannual dental check-up (ha ha ha, yeah right) with the same enthusiasm as you would the prospect of getting inappropriately fondled at a clown convention. You lie there, prone and vulnerable, while a stranger painfully pokes around in your mouth with a frighteningly shaped foreign instrument. And then of course, there’s going to the dentist.
But even this oral horror is in many ways preferable to the number one time-waster and spirit-killer in corporate society. The meeting. Far from its innocuous name, the common, or garden variety, meeting seeks to fill every minute of productive time with repetitive waffle, mind-numbing redundancy, and repetitive waffle.
Here’s why I think having your mouth invaded by an almost-doctor’s stainless steel toy-set is still better than going to the average meeting:
1. You know when it’s coming
As much as we all live in latent fear of the dentist and their machinations of pain and humiliation, the fact is that we choose to go there. We call the office, we make the appointment, we show up. The dentist might not be out favourite place in the world to go, but we go there on our terms. Your dentist will never call you first thing on a Monday morning and ask you to meet him across town to discuss ‘SEO and stuff’. He won’t ask you to drop everything for a quick ‘chat’ at the last minute. Your dentist may be god when you’re sat in his chair, but you’re the boss until you get there.
2. You don’t have to contribute
As a matter of personal pride, you should at least swipe a toothbrush across your crusty fangs prior to your dentist seeing them, but as soon as you’re in his room, your contribution to the appointment is over. No, it’s not pleasant, but short of rinsing, spitting, biting (or not-biting), you don’t actually have to do anything. No one expects a month-by-month report of your brushing activities or an analysis of your mouth-wash. You don’t have to answer any questions, save to lie about how often you floss and when your last appointment was. All you have to do is lie there and try not to bleed on yourself.
3. You don’t have to dress up
I mean, you should get dressed- this isn’t a clown convention after all. But no one cares if you rock up in a tracksuit and bunny slippers. Just like the point above, you don’t actually have to do anything. At a meeting, especially a ‘big meeting’, you’re expected to put effort into presenting your work, and yourself. At the dentist, all you need to do is be present.
4. It hurts less
It’s true- going to the dentist means sore gums, split lips or worse. If your dentist is anything like mine, then to them your bloodied dibble splattered across porcelain is as beautiful as an African sunset, and your muffled screams an accompanying symphony by which to admire it. Some days, I wish I was a dentist. But the pain is corporeal and thus, temporary and tolerable. As soon as your appointment is over, you can get up, walk away, buy a box of floss and then stick in in the back of the cupboard until you need a filling again. Physical pain is part of life, but there is nothing natural about the slow soul-ache of attending endless, unproductive meetings.
If asked to attend day after day of meetings for the rest of eternity, I’m willing to bet most people would rather opt for the known evil and choose instead to be drilled for a solid hour or two.
Whether at the dentist, or the clown convention.
1. Summarising long copy into shorter copy is ‘quick’