“You gotta win to get love. Everybody knows that.” – Ricky Bobby
Our conference room is pretty standard. We have a large, oval-shaped, fake wooden table surrounded by chairs that squeak and recline too far. It’s BYOC (bring your own coffee) and the speakers cut in and out. At least, I thought it was standard. Then I went to my first video teleconference.
Video teleconferencing is something that older people think is too technologically advanced for its own good–like killer robots–and simultaneously something that younger people consider a fake, much less entertaining form of television. Why can’t we hold this meeting over the phone so I can put the phone on mute, put the phone on my desk, and refresh Twitter? And why does their conference room look so much better than ours? And who’s that hot girl in the back left?
Our Denver branch has it made: plush leather chairs, Starbucks coffee, a rich mahogany round table, and the hot girl in the back left corner. This just makes all of the other offices jealous. Los Angeles doesn’t have these amenities. This didn’t add up to me at first. How could one organization have such differing standards of office aesthetics and of comfort? Also, how did they manage to hire a hot girl? Those exist?
The initial jealously spurned a heated anger after months of weekly meetings. Our LA team decided that as our Denver counterparts continue to dress to the nines with crisp double Windsors, we would switch from button-downs to polo shirts. Eventually our shirts even came untucked. We all brought in doughnuts and fruit bowls to drown their Starbucks coffee in shame. We fought their pretentiousness with fire.
Just as our spirits we rising, the mountain folk upped their game. The blazers turned to suit jackets, the khakis to slacks, and their posture became upright, as if someone had shoved broomsticks up all their asses. The war had escalated. This quickly became a take no prisoners situation, and this VTC only had room for one victor.
Finally, after six months of battle, they waved the white flag. Actually what happened was we got an email from a junior member of the Denver team begging us to return to our pre-war status quo–but it was for reasons no one had anticipated.
Unsuspectingly, as our team tried to show how unphased we were by their pretentiousness and commodity quality, thus subsequently lowering our standards in protest, their senior lead raised the formality of the Denver side. This was not as an act of retaliation or rebuttal, but rather as an act of example. They were supposed to set the professional standard in such a way to inspire our team to strive to their level of excellence.
Each attempt they made only made matters worse, obviously. As only senior managers do, their lead continued on a warpath that was clearly failing. As such, it was visibly apparent that it was the informality of his junior coworkers–not the plan–that lacked in execution. He was commanding a room to increase standards constantly. But meanwhile, those same people looked through their projector screens at us in jealousy, envious of the informality.
Once this realization became reality, we did the logical thing–we made our attire even more informal and kicked our feet up on the desk relishing in victory.
Suck it, Denver.
The grass is always greener on the other side of the VTC.