emdrone (emdrone) wrote,

A Business Meeting

Выходные, надо отдыхать и веселиться. Потому предлагаю свой перевод весьма известного скетча весьма популярного ЖЖ-блоггера. Он по-моему (скетч) заслуживает самого широкого распространения в том числе и за пределами русскоязычного мира

On a Tuesday Mr Peters arrived to a business meeting in his company. There his brain was extracted, served on plates and savoured with many expressions of delight. Mr Peters' boss, Mr Harelip, ever punctilious, remembered to bring the spoons and pass them to everyone present. And so it began.

"Dear colleagues," - Ms Redriff opens, - "our company faces a great challenge. We've got a project that calls for a depiction of several red lines. Are we ready to take it on?"

"Absolutely!" - Mr Harelip chimes in. As Director he is always ready to take upon himself a load somebody else will carry. However, he is quick to pass the question on - "We can do it, can't we?"

The Head of the Drawing Department, Mr Drower, nods hurriedly:
"Yes, definitely. Here is Mr. Peters, our top expert in drawing red lines. He has been specially invited to express his informed opinion."

"Nice to meet you" - says Ms Redriff - "Well, everyone knows me. And this is Helen, our design specialist."

Helen blushes and manages a bashful smile. She recently graduated with a major in economics and knows about design as much as a platypus about blimp construction.

"So,"" - continues Ms Redriff - "we need to draw seven red lines. All of them must be strictly perpendicular and besides some have to be green, and several others transparent. How realistic is that, what do you think?"

"It isn't" - says Mr Peters

"Let's not be hasty," - says Mr Drower. - "The problem has been posed, and it needs to be solved. You are a professional, Peters. Please do not give us reasons to think otherwise."

"You see," - Mr Peters starts explaining - "the term "red line" implies that the colour of the line is red. To draw a red line in green is not exactly impossible, but is very near to that."

"What do you mean by "impossible", Peters?" - asks Mr Drower

"I'm just outlining the situation. There might be some people who are colourblind, for whom the colour of the line is of no difference, but I am not sure that they constitute the target audience for this project."

"That is, you are telling us it is essentually possible. Do we understand you right, Peters?" - enquires Ms Redriff

Peters realizes he's been too figurative.
"Let's put it in simpler terms" - he says. - "A line itself can be drawn in any colour. But to obtain a red line one has to use red colour only."

"Please, do not try to confuse us, Mr Peters. You've just said it was possible."

Peters silently curses his loose tongue.
"No, I've been misunderstood. I only wanted to say that on some rare occasions the colour of the line is unimportant, but even then the line still won't remain red. You see, it won't be red! It will be green. And you need a red one."

A short silence falls, during which one can hear a distinct hum of very busy synapses.

"And what if" - Mr Harelip hits upon an idea - "we draw them in blue colour?"
"No, it won't work" - Peters shakes his head - "If you draw them in blue, you'll get blue lines"

The silence reestablishes itself. This time it is broken by Peters
".. and I also did not quite understand.. what did you mean when you spoke of lines in transparent colour?"

Ms Redriff looks at him condescendingly, like a kind teacher on a negligent pupil
"Well, how can I put it.. Peters, you do know what "transparent" is, don't you?"
"Yes, I do"
"And you do not need to be explained what a "red line" is, either, do you?"
"No, I do not"
"Great. Then draw us red lines in transparent colour"

Peters withdraws for a second pondering the situation
"So, how would the result look like, please describe it. How do you see it?"

"But, Peters!" - Mr Drower joins - "Let's not be childish.. we are all adults. Who is the expert in red lines, Ms Redriff or you?"

"I am simply trying to clarify some details.."

"What is here to clarify?" - Mr Harelip bursts in - "You do know what a red line is, don't you?"
"yes, but.."
"And the meaning of "transparent" is also clear?"
"Most certainly, but.."
"So what is here to clarify? Peters, let's not start unproductive argument. The problem has been posed, in a very clear and well-defined way. If you have concrete questions, please ask them"
"You are the professional" - adds Mr Drower

"All right" - Peters gives up - "Let's forget about the colour. But you also have something about perpendicularity?"

"Yes" - Ms Redriff confirms readily - "Seven lines, all of them are perpendicular"

"Perpendicular to what?" - Peters puts in, hoping for an explanation

Ms Redriff begins to go through her papers
"Err.." - she says at last - "well, how can I.. to everything. Among themselves. Or, how do you call it.." - and then, finding her response - "I do not know, I thought you knew how lines can be perpendicular"

"Of course he knows" - Mr Drower waves his hands - "Are we professionals here or not?"

"Only two lines can be perpendicular" - Peters starts patiently - "All seven of them cannot. This is school geometry, 6th year"

Ms Redriff twitches her head, attempting to exorcise the gloomy ghost of school education, long forsaken. Mr Harelip slaps his hand on the table.
"Peters, let us refrain from such language. '6th year'! Let's be polite and speak without insinuation and avoid being offensive. We must make an effort to be constructive. There are no idiots here in this room"

"That is my feeling, exactly" - adds Mr Drower

Peters pulls a sheet of paper from a stack
"Ok, let me do a sketch. Here's a line. Ok?"

Ms Redriff nods

"Let's draw a second one.." - continues Peters - "Is it perpendicular to the first one?"

"Yes, it is"
"Ah, you see!" - exclaims Ms Redriff brightly

"Wait a moment.. Now, let's add a third one.. Is it perpendicular to the first line?"

A thoughtful pause. Failing to receive a response, Peters answers himself
"Yes, it is perpendicular to the first line. But it does not cross the second line. It is parallel to the second one"

Silence descends on the room. Then Ms Redriff rises, and circling Peters from behind peeks over his shoulder.
"Well.." - she starts hesitatingly- "possibly, yes"

"That is the problem" - says Peters, attempting to strengthen his success - "when we had two lines, they could be perpendicular. But the moment we add more..."

"Can I have the pen?" - asks Ms Redriff

Peters hands over the pen. Ms Redriff cautiously draws some hesitating lines
"And what if we do it this way?"

Peters sighs. "This is called a triangle. No, the lines are not perpendicular. And there are only three of them, not seven"

Ms Redriff' face puckers.

"And why are they blue?" - Mr Harelisp asks suddenly
"By the way, yes, just wanted to ask that myself" - Mr Drower offers his support

Peters blinks while staring at the sketch
"Because my pen is blue" - he says finally - "I just wanted to explain.."

"So, this may be the reason why" - interrupts Mr Harelip sounding like someone who has just managed to grasp a complicated concept and is eager to share his insight with others while the thought has not yet slipped out of his mind - "your lines are blue. Draw red lines and let's see what happens!"

"Absolutely the same thing" - assures Peters
"No, not the same thing" - disagrees Mr Harelip - "How can you be so sure if you did not even try it?! Draw them red, and we'll see!"

"I do not have a red pen" - admits Peters - "But I can absolutely ..."
"And why did not you get ready for the meeting?" - reprimands Mr Drower - "You knew it was set for Tuesday"
"I can assure you absolutely" - says Peters in desperation - "that when you draw them in red you'll get exactly the same result"

"But did not you tell us yourself" - parries off Mr Drower - "that red lines must be drawn in red colour. Here, I even put it down. And you yourself are drawing them with a blue pen. Are these red lines?"

"Yes, right" - concurs Mr Harelip - "I remember asking you about the blue colour. What did you say?"

Peters is suddenly rescued by Helen, who has been studying his sketch from her chair for a while.
"I realized something, it seems you are not talking about colour now, right? This is about - howdoyoucallit.. per-per-something?"

"Yes, lines perpendicularity" replies Peters with gratitude - "It is independent of the line colour"

"That's it, you managed to confuse us completely" - utters Mr Harelip, moving his eyes from one participant to another - "So do we have problems with colour or with perpendicularity?"

Ms Redriff is emitting baffled sounds and shaking her head. She is lost too.

"Both of them" - says Peters very quietly

"What I do not understand" - says Mr Harelip, contemplating his intertwined fingers, "is this. We have a problem. All that's required is just seven red lines. I could understand it if there were twenty of them. But all we have is merely seven red lines. This is a simple problem. Our clients need seven perpendicular lines. Right?"

Ms Redriff nods.
"Then Mr Drower does not see any problem either" - continues Mr Harelip - "Am I right, Mr Drower?.. you see.. So what prevents us from getting on with this task?"

"Geometry" - sighs Peters

"So ignore it!" - ventures Ms Redriff

Peters shuts up, collecting his thoughts. His brain is producing a row of colourful metaphors, which would be helpful in imparting the surrealism of the situation to all present parties, but unfortunately at the stage of being turned into words all of them involve a certain expletive, which would be out of place in a business meeting.

Tired of waiting for an answer, Mr Harelip says
"Peters, tell us in a simple language - can you do it or cannot you? I do realize yours is a narrow speciality and you do not appreciate the whole picture. But this is not difficult - to draw just seven lines. We've been discussing this nonsense for two hours and cannot come to any conclusion"

"Yes" says Mr Drower "you can only criticize and say how impossible it is. Offer us your solution. Anyone can criticize. You are a professional, after all!"

Peters replies in a tired voice
"OK, let me do two red lines which I can guarantee to be perpendicular, and the rest will be in clear colour. They will be transparent, and not visible, but I will draw them. Will that be all right?"

"Will that be suitable?" - Ms Redriff turns to Helen - "Yes, it will be fine with us"
"Only another pair in green, if you could" - adds Helen - "and there is one more request, if you allow me"
"Yes" - allows Peters in a dead voice
"Can you draw one of the lines in the form of a kitty?"

Peters does not respond for a few seconds, then asks "What?"
"Well, like a kitten, A kitty. Our customers adore animals. They would be delighted"

"No" says Peters
"But why?"
"No, I can draw a cat. I'm not an artist, but I can try. but it won't be a line. It will be a cat. a line is different from a cat"
"A kitten" - corrects Ms Redriff - "Not a cat, but a kitten, small and cute. Cats are..."
"Makes no difference" - disagrees Peters
"No way?" asks Helen in disappointment
"Peters, could you at least let them finish" - Mr Harelip cannot hide his irritation - "You did not hear it out, but are ready with your 'No' all the same"

"I understand the idea" - says Peters, not raising his eyes from the table - "It is impossible to draw a line in the shape of a kitten"

"All right" - Helen accepts it - "but maybe a birdie?"
Peters silently moves his eyes to her face, and in them she reads his unspoken answer

Mr Harelip slaps his hand on the table. "So, what did we come to? What is it we are doing?"
"Seven red lines" - reports Ms Redriff - "Two in red colour, two in green, the rest are transparent. Right? Did I understand you correctly?"
"Yes" - confirms Mr Drower before Peters even opens his mouth

Mr Harelip nods with satisfaction.
"Excellent. Then do we declare the meeting closed? Any questions?"
"Ah" - Helen remembers - "We also have a red rubber balloon. Can you blow it up?"
"Yes" - says Ms Redriff - "that too, let's decide right now not to have to set up another meeting"

"Peters", Mr Harelip turns to Peters " Can we do it?"
"And what that has to do with me?" - asks Peters, surprised
"It's red" - explains Helen

Peters falls into a dumb silence, his fingertips slightly trembling
"Peters" - repeats Mr Harelip in a nervous voice - "so can you do it or cannot you? It's a simple question"
"Well, " begins Peters cautiously - "generally speaking, it is not impossible, but..."
"Good" - nods Mr Harelip "So go to the client, and blow up the balloon. It's a business trip, we'll cover the expenses".
"Can you do it tomorrow?" - asks Ms Redriff
"Sure" - answers Mr Harelip - "I do not see any problem... Is it all now? Good. Thank you all for a productive meeting. Have a nice day"

Peters blinks a few times to return to reality, then gets up and slowly shuffles towards the exit. He is almost there when Helen catches up.
"Can I ask you one more thing?" - she says, blushing - "when you blow up the balloon, can you do it in the shape of a kitty?"

Peters sighs
"Yes, I can. There isn't a thing I cannot do. I am a professional after all"

Translated from a blog entry in Russian at
Links to other translations can be found in the entry.

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