My 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.”