Episode 16 – Leadership Dinner

Brenda de la Rue was in the office of the CIO, Rupert Onion, discussing strategy. Only, since he was trendy and didn’t have an office, they were actually sitting at a hot-desk on level 17 surrounded by people who were pretending not to listen in to their conversation.

“Sum it for me Brend, low deets, high strategy. You know how I like to get my downloads.”

Brenda thought he might be discussing lunch, but wasn’t sure. Or maybe he was talking about the internet. Did CIOs do technology anymore? She doubted it, so she went for the lunch theory.

“Mainly quinoa salads, that’s how I am seeing the future.” Brenda lied.

“Love it!” Rupert replied, “So you are saying that the IT landscape is looking healthy, and we are adopting new ways of doing things. Brill Brends, I’ll use that in my next internal Facebook punch.”

Rupert was smiling, so Brenda continued by leaning in, so the nosey bastards couldn’t hear her, and speaking to Rupert quietly. As she did, she wondered why she was bothering, since even though she was one of the people in the conversation, she had no idea what they were talking about. “It’s not all kale though, if you know what I mean.” Brenda winked, hopefully.

“Got it. Sooooo, got it. And yes you can. You can, canitty, can.”

“I can what?”

“Ha ha. Brenda you are a keeper, and I don’t mean of bees. I love ambition. Clearly you know about the senior leadership jolly tonight.” Rupert lowered his voice to a whisper, “The S-T-E-A-K restaurant, wink, wink.”

Brenda was well aware of the existence of steak restaurants, as they made up a large amount of her monthly outgoings, but failed to understand the reference.

“Someone in the know has clued you up. I like that. Don’t forget to roll up a trouser leg if you are being initiated into the club. Come along for your trial. I’m backing you Bree. Obviously I don’t need to tell you the time and location.”

Brenda was pretty sure that he did, but didn’t want to let on.

“Ok, Br. See you tonight. Now, I’ve got a chat chot with the risk guys. They found out the monitoring team are Splunking in the Cloud. Better trot on. CU soon. :-)”

Brenda made a mental note to wash her hands if she ever had anything to do with the monitoring team.

 

Brenda knew what she had to do. She needed to use the bush telegraph.

“Maddy. MADDY! MADDY! Take off your headphones, this one is important.”

Maddy did as requested and looked intently at Brenda.

“There is something I need you to do. Now listen carefully. There is a dinner tonight with a whole load of important people, and I have been invited.”

“Congratulations!” said Maddy.

“No, it doesn’t work like that. I still need to find out where it is and when.”

“Weren’t you invited?”

“Shhhh Maddy, and just listen to me. I need you to use your network of connections to…”

“Find out where it is?”

“Fuck no. Nobody is going to tell you that! I need you to find a weak link who we can put pressure on to find out where it is. Get me a name, Maddy. Someone I can give to Lars Effendic, our Head of Security. He owes me and has a large collection of pinkies and little toes that he seems to want to increase. You get me the weak link, and Lars can do the rest.”

 

You’d probably prefer to read the missing bit of this story, but unfortunately Lars won’t tell me what happened, so now you have been fast forwarded to the restaurant…

Brenda wasn’t sure if she should be fashionably late, or turn up early and look keen. She went for early, and everyone else went for late, which meant that by the time the first of the nine other guests got there, she was already on her second bottle of red.

Brenda didn’t have any actual friends, and hadn’t had time to go to the hairdressers to ask one of paid friends for advice about the evening. Should she try to be relaxed and fit in quietly, should she show her leadership skills by taking over and ordering the food? What should she do? She turned to the Internet for advice, despite the time she had ended up in Accident and Emergency with a self diagnosed heart condition that turned out to be a broken wire in her bra. According to an article on LinkedIn she should just try to be herself, she knew that wasn’t one of the options so she went for trying not to fuck it up completely on the first attempt, in the hope that she would be invited back again next time.

Brenda was sat next to Bruce Forceknife, the Head of Risk, who along with most people, she despised. However, she needed to make a good impression so was making small talk with him.

“How are the cost cutting measures going in your area?” she asked him.

“Very well thank you. Could you pass me the caviar please?”

“Of course. Ours are going well too. We’ve replaced the Nescafe instant coffee in the staff kitchens with some no-name thing from China, and we are using sawdust instead of sugar. Saved a fortune. Can you reach that last lobster tail for me?”

With the starters out of the way, and the small talk going well, Brenda was looking forward to the main course. Her glass was regularly topped up and she was content, like a fat cat lying in the sun. She was managing to laugh loudly at all of the funny comments people made, with only one small mistake that she was sure they had forgotten by now. She made an especially large effort to laugh at one of Rupert Onion’s jokes, but nobody else joined in. How was she supposed to know that his mother really had just been run over by a police car. That aside, it was all going well and she could see the main courses heading to the table.

Rupert’s claim that it was a steak restaurant turned out not to be true, in fact it was a very posh restaurant right in the middle of Sydney where you needed to book weeks in advance.

The food was served and Brenda looked at the dish in front of her and after clearing her throat, summonsed the waiter back again.

“Look!” said Brenda, pointing at her plate “I ordered a dinner.”

The waiter looked confused.

“But you,” Brenda dwelt on the word, “…have brought me a small painting.”

The waiter looked first at Brenda and then at the plate, before again looking at Brenda with much clearer understanding.

“Is this a fucking Willy Wonka restaurant? When it eat it, will it magically expand to fill my stomach?”

The waiter realised that Brenda was with company and didn’t want to embarrass her. “Bread roll?” he whispered.

Brenda knew when she was beaten, “Three please.”