My Boss Is Coming, What Do I Do?

January 1st, 1998

I’ve been working for a rather large company for about a year now. This has been fine by me, but something tells me that it will not be fine by the end of the week. You see, the boss is visiting from the head office on Thursday & Friday. This is not a problem to anyone, except me. You see – although I have been here for an extended period, I have no idea what I am supposed to be doing.

Please help – I need to be doing whatever I am supposed to be doing by the time he walks through those doors.

Love Norm.

PS – What the bloody hell is a “Customer Engineer”, anyways?

Jo’s Answer

I suspect a Customer Engineer is one of those really wanky terms the corporate world has thought of to describe a job that does everything they don’t want to be doing. I would always prefer “Shitkicker”, it’s more honest and far more descriptive. So your boss is coming in to town, and a la George Castanza on Seinfeld, you have no idea what you should have spent the last year doing. To save your cushy job, you’re going to need to go into overdrive to cover your tracks.

First, before the big cahoona walks in the door, make sure your desk is really messy. Pile your desk high with many files, stuffed with paper, brochures, other coloured bits of card. Choose 3 or 4 different coloured files, to indicate that you colour code your filing. This gives the illusion of well-organised project management or simply anally retentive behaviour – both of which are well rewarded in the corporate world. Once your physical desk is suitably cluttered, work on your computer desktop.

The most important thing is to set your screen saver to kick in after only 30 seconds, and work in very small fonts. That way, if the Big Guy or Girl comes over to your workstation, by the time he or she has actually focussed on your screen to see what you’re working on, the screensaver’s kicked in to cover your arse.

Now, while the visit is taking place, alternate between writing lots of lists and important notes to yourself, typing some unknown document (e-mails to your friends will do as long as the boss isn’t in direct line with the screen) and talking very seriously on the phone. Use words like Key Performance Indicators, reevaluation, strategic plan, global market.

And when the Boss asks you a question directly, defer to your immediate supervisor, who will relish the opportunity to look like they are the only one to really know what’s going on in the company.

And if all else fails, spend a lot of time in the toilet. They’re not going question your productivity in that department.

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My Boss Is Coming, What Do I Do?