I was having a coffee in the small lounge reserved for senior managers. We had installed a Tassimo-compatible machine and I was trying out the Dark Italian Roast – a full-bodied selection, says the pod, made with 100% high quality Arabica beans. It has an extra bold taste that is both sharp and intense. (Sounds like a bout at the dentist.)
I was sharing what might otherwise have been a contemplative moment with our CFO, General Ledger. He is a curiosity, with ears that make him look like Mars with its two moons. To the left, Phobos. To the right, Deimos. He is no Jupiter, thank goodness; its 67 moons would certainly have made him something to ponder.
So General Ledger was talking about this kid, Jason. Jason is working for the summer in the Accounting Department, entering data. A philosophy major, he is exactly wrong for this job, but a paycheck is a paycheck.
It seems that Anne, Jason’s supervisor, was complaining about him. Jason has six or seven stacks of soft drink cans in his cubicle, each can precariously perched on the one below – or, as he would say it, under the one above. He refers to the stacks as pyramids, which Anne finds stupid and annoying. The stacks are, apparently, in a race to reach the top lip of the office dividers. On his desk is a robot made entirely of thumbtacks and elastic bands. Anne has concluded that he had to be building this stupid thing on company time, although she does admit that it really does look like a robot.
A philosophy major, he is exactly wrong for this job.
To further confound Anne’s sensibilities, Jason works off-kilter hours, which he can do because, after all, he just enters data. He comes in at 10:00, works through the noon hour and takes his lunch at 1:30. So in the early afternoon, when everyone else is working, he is sitting back, reading Descartes’ Discourse on Method or Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. The other employees look at him and think he is goofing off. Then he leaves after everyone is gone, so no one knows what he is doing.
Also vexing for Anne, who would have made a good puritan, is that Jason is cute and all the young ladies in her group find reasons to drop in on him and chat. Jason is nothing if not polite and he accommodates them with charm and cordiality.
Sounds like a fine lad, I said. So what is the issue? Well, he answered, his outsized ears turning scarlet, Jason is clearly not a fit.
I sipped my very bold coffee slowly. It was still hot. Does he get the job done? I asked. Yes. Does he make mistakes? No. Hmmph, I said, in my best Tom Selleck. Clearly not a fit.
Well, I suggested, if he is cordial and likes working later hours, why not transfer him to our Customer Care Center where he could be a service rep. Then everyone would be happy… except, I suppose, the girls in Accounting.
General Ledger’s eyes lit up. Of course! Why had he not thought of that?
I don’t know. Why? But then, like the man said, as long as the answer is right, who cares if the question is wrong?