Our Big Boss can be characterized in many different ways. One of them is control freak; literally. I mean, the guy has the official executive title, but he makes his own photocopies, because he does not trust others to follow his precise specifications (to give him credit where credit is due he is also not of the stuck up bosses variety). Plus, he closely supervises such important office matters as water delivery guy, tea, sugar, and napkins for our kitchenette, extra pens by the printer, lamp bulbs in the hallway, labeling of files, new boxes of looseleaf dividers, the above mentioned bagels and spreads, and last, but in no way least, office furniture, which is where this particular story comes in.
Once in a blue moon there are traveling salesmen (or salesladies) who come into our office to peddle their particular product for about an hour and sweeten the presentation with a free lunch and a learning credit of some kind. Usually such presentations garner the requisite audience, but not the requisite attention. The exception occurred about half a year ago. One particularly forceful and loud (literally) saleslady came to do a presentation on the brand of ergonomic furniture that she was pushing; this time, the regular yawns and closing eyes quickly disappeared when she announced that her firm sells the afore mentioned ergonomic furniture with a 70% mark down to the people in their profession. The excitement did not die down for about two hours after the presentation; plus, she had left her samples for all of us to sample at our leisure.
The very next morning I got an e-mail from the second in command with a request to conduct a survey and find out how many people in our office preferred those highly coveted ergonomic chairs with mesh backs as opposed to cloth. Naive me followed the command, send the office e-mail, and then had to listed to inane comments for the next two days (the samples were right in front of my mug). In the middle of all that excitement, all of the sudden the big boss appeared, waving his toothbrush, all in flying hair and offended sensibilities, and asked me in pretty accusatory tones why did I decide to conduct the survey. As I inhaled, preparing to defend myself, he continued his tirade non stop, in the proses himself identifying the true culprit, and winding down by saying that he did not decide if we need new chairs at all, and if we do, who exactly is going or not going to get them.
Next thing I know, the samples were removed, and the office grapevine quickly circulated the disappointing message that nobody is getting new chairs. Few weeks after that, the big boss asked me to contact the loud saleslady for an estimate for seven new chairs (our office at that time officially had twenty two people, not counting the consultants and the interns).
A couple of weeks after that, seven new shiny ergonomic "grass green" chairs with mesh backs arrived at the office, accompanied by a lot of fuss, noise, and four-letter words; and the fun began. Apparently, according to the big boss, only he, second in command, and five senior partners were entitled to the new chairs, even with 70% discount. And, of course, he had to supervise the proceedings personally, in the process driving me up the wall with lots of contradictory orders. To make the long story short, according to his convoluted logic, we have few "generations" of chairs. When the new "generation" comes in, the "senior staff" gets those, the previous "generation" goes to the next tier of employees, etc.
It took roughly two hours to accomplish all the generational switches planed by the big boss. After the dust settled (literally and figuratively), I was privileged to listen to all the disgruntled complains and dashed hopes. One of the guys was especially fumy, threatening with the fact that he was about one knuckle on his pinkie away from officially e-mailing the HR Director. Thankfully, he never did: as much as I love everyday tragicomedy, the results of that one would have been to much for my fragile psyche to witness.
The ironic post scriptum? Half of the "fortunate" ones (including the big boss) did not really like those chairs, after all, and went back to the previous "generation". Where did the rejects go? Of course, not to the ones who were disappointed the most. My favorite Komsomolka, being the equivalent of the office's chief tank and chief whiner, got one. The other two ended up by interns' desks, and one of these interns is the worst our company had seen in a while. I wonder if the big boss realized it yet.