On the first day at a new job, you can expect to not know people and not know what you should do – but when your boss is just as clueless as you, that’s a real bad sign.
“Who are you again,” she asks.
You tell her.
“What position were you hired for?”
You tell her that also.
In a panic, she rummages around her desk. “We will find something for you to do…,” she promises.
Finally, she locates a fresh legal pad that looks like a child scrawled on it. “Here is something!” she says triumphantly. She studies her own handwriting but cannot make out what it says.
“I tell you what,” she says at last. “Ask Bob.”
You cast your next question like a lure across water, hoping for a bite. “Who is Bob?”
She is crushed. Clearly, she does not know who Bob is. To help her save face, you rise from your chair, saying, “You can count on me,” and quickly exit her office.
Now all you have to do is find someone in authority named Bob. This is easier than it seems. In most organizations, authority comes with a window view: the more authority, the more windows. So you check out the corner offices. No luck. Those belong to Sarah, Mitch, Lyle and Dwight. Not Bob.
You circle the floor reading nameplates on every office with a window. No Bob there either.
Next you wade into the cube farm looking for the largest cubes. Nothing.
Finally, you run the aisles like a lab rat, vainly searching for a Bob, any Bob. Unbelievably, you work for the only organization in the English speaking world to not employ anyone named Bob. Not even a Robert or a Roberta.
So you ask around. “Hi!” you say, “I am looking for Bob, can you tell me where he sits?”
Your workmates blink back at you. They stammer. They stumble over their words. They point in vague directions across the cube farm.
You wander where they point and ask again, “Say, can you tell me where I can find Bob?”
More stunned expressions. More empty gazes. More vague gestures.
You try another tactic, you will find the brightest person in the office and ask if they know who Bob is. It’s not long until you find him. He sits in a small, quiet cube against the back wall. There are several frightened and confused people forming a line to his desk. You join them – but he motions for you forward.
“You are looking for Bob, right?”
“Yes, is that you?” you say after checking his nameplate. Perhaps they haven’t had time to change it.
“No,” he says, “there is no Bob. Never was one either.”
You begin to catch on.
“Your boss, Marie, is a dolt,” he says, “whenever she gets confused, we simply ask her, ‘should we talk to Bob?’ then we do what we want.”
“Great,” I say, “now all I need is something I want to do.”
“I can help you there,” he says, extending his hand, “my name is Walt, I sort of run this place.”