My Notebook

nlyl-notebookMy notebook has a hard cardboard cover, a spiral wire binding and ruled pages which I diligently fill with scribbles during meetings.

“Let me see your notes,” my boss said.

We had just come out of a tedious four hour meeting  (is there really any other kind), where he did all the talking and I took copious notes.  Now he wanted to review what I wrote.

The thing is, no one can read my handwriting.

Not even me.

Still, I handed them over.

He looked puzzled. “What language is this?” he asked.

I took back my notebook and examined the pages. “It’s Estonian,” I told him.

“I didn’t know you spoke Estonian,” he said.

“I don’t but I can write it.”

Oddly, he didn’t find that the least bit odd.

“Why do you want to see my notes?” I asked him.

“I need to know what I said.”

“You talked for four hours.”

“That is just it.”

“And now you want to know what you said,” I repeated back to him.

“Yeah, it could be trouble,” he said, “the director stopped me after the meeting to say how glad she was that our data integration project would be completed by year end.”

“But it won’t be.”

“I know that, but she thinks I promised it during the meeting.”

“How could she?” I asked, “she nodded off the moment you took the podium. Everybody did.”

“I know,” he said, “I watched them all snooze. It is probably the most productive four hours we have had in months.”

“She was doing the church nod the entire time, so how can she claim you promised the project would be done?”

“She has a note to that effect.”


“So I need your notes to back me up.”

“But they are in Estonian,” I reminded him.

“We’ll get them translated.”

“To be honest,” I confessed, “they are not in Estonian – I just wrote gibberish to fool people into thinking I was taking notes. I always do that.”

“Even better,” he said.


“Because that way, they say whatever we want them to say.  But aside from that, I want you write up everything you remember about the meeting.”

“Even the parts when you rambled?”

“Especially, those parts. That way no one can say I promised anything that I didn’t.”

“Alright, but it is after the fact.”

“That’s okay – it’s still notes.”

So I went back to my desk to summarize what I honestly remembered:

“The assistant director spoke at length about how management has continually expanded the scope of the project, thus the timeline must be extended well past June of next year – as he explained each point, the director nodded.”


Author: Almost Iowa

41 thoughts on “My Notebook”

  1. Excellent summary. Meetings are so often pointless and a waste of time. 2 hours to figure out what should take 2 minutes. On the other hand meetings are a boon to the coffee business…..

  2. Wow, I wish I had read this before I attended some of the astoundingly boring and unproductive meetings I’ve endured in my life. And I wish I had you to take notes at all future meetings….. This is absolutely the way to deal with office politics!

    1. A colleague of mine had one of those squishy balls that people squeeze to burn off stress. Every once in a while, when he was under a great deal of pressure, he would body-slam it. 🙂

  3. Proving that clever words can be accurate and also intentionally misleading. And, of course, contemporaneous notes committed to paper from memory are admissible as persuasive evidence in the court of public opinion. On the other hand, maybe somebody has a sound recording of the meeting on a digital device? Or a video of the director nodding?

    1. On the other hand, maybe somebody has a sound recording of the meeting on a digital device? Or a video of the director nodding?

      In 1921, Yevgeny Zamyatin, wrote the dystopian novel, We. Its influences can be found in Orwell’s 1984 and Huxley’s Brave New World. In the novel everything is made of glass and every movement is under surveillance.

      The cops have this great line, “you are who you hang with.” It means that people tailor their personality and behavior to who they are with and where they are. We are one person in church on Sunday, and another in the bar on Saturday night. We are also one person in public, another among close friends, another with our family and yet another all by ourselves.

      Under surveillance, there is only one, We.

    1. My favorite style of meeting is the “stand up” meeting during which the participants literally stand. In software development, it is called the daily scrum. The meeting are limited to 5 to 15 minutes and are incredibly effective. At least in my opinion, anything longer should be relegated to a bar after work…(on the company’s dime, of course).

    1. Conference room chairs should all be loungers.

      Hammocks would not be bad either. Personally, I prefer video conferences, that way I can do actual work during meetings.

  4. “Pun”chline noted & appreciated. Definitely good enough for government work! 😉
    You brought it all back & thank God we’re done with office meetings~~ 😀

    1. Not done entirely with meetings. I met with Scooter and the cats for four hours yesterday to discuss my shortcomings as a pet owner. I slept through the entire thing. So did the cats. I gave Scooter a pork chop last night to make amends.

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