Everyone brought a notebook to the weekly meeting and Jack certainly didn’t want to look unprepared. At Mega Corp, unprepared seemed to mean not being ready to agree with senior managers or to write down the wisdom that they shared with their workers like angels of wisdom. So Jack took a notebook and a pen from his desk and wished he had another coffee.

‘Going to the meeting?’ asked Jane, peeking over the edge of Jack’s cubicle. Her hands were shaking from the fifth coffee of the day and her eyes were staring so wide at Jack that he was worried they might drop out of her skull.

‘Yeah, I’ve got nothing else on.’ Jack laughed.

Jane laughed.

Neither of them meant it.

Jacks’ office was a bunch of cubicles and plastic plants. There were motivational posters on the wall and around the edge managers lurked in offices with glass walls so that they could look out and make sure everyone was doing as they were told. On his first day Jack was told that cubicles ‘enhance creativity and collaboration,’ and then four hours later he was told that this is a ‘conservative and respectful working environment,’ which is code for, ‘sit down and be quiet cubicle boy.’

The boardroom however, was nothing like the office. It was an oasis of class and elegance with large windows looking out onto the city and leather chairs that didn’t squeak or drop down and then you have to half stand up and pull that stick underneath them. The boardroom table itself was a dark shiny wood and covered with coasters in a not-so-subtle warning not to put cups directly onto it’s polished finish. At the end of the table lay the cupboard of happiness, filled with wine and beer and snacks but as today was Tuesday, Jack knew that it was unlikely to be opened by Derek. He still looked at it, willing it to pass him a beer.

Derek was Jack’s boss. Blue and grey suits, hair swept back and a teeth so white that Jack felt like they were making fun of his teeth. ‘So,’ said Derek as he strode in five minutes late. ‘Where are we going to start today? Jack.’ Derek shot Jack with two finger guns and took his seat at the head of the table.

Jack ignored the audible sigh of relief from everyone else in the room and picked up his notebook, it had nothing on it but it made him feel more secure to be holding something. ‘It’s been a good week,’ said Jack. ‘Our numbers are up and we’re really looking forward to expanding our growth into new sectors over the next few weeks.’ Jack kept talking but it was almost on autopilot as terms like ‘magnificent,’ ‘correction,’ and ‘enhanced bottom line,’ naturally fell from his mouth as if they really meant something. When he finally finished he saw that Jason who was sitting opposite him was drooling out of the side of his mouth and had presumably left his body.

‘Jack I like some of your thinking,’ said Derek, offering a false sense of security. ‘But I need you to think more laterally.’

‘Laterally?’

‘Latterally.’

Jack knew that his next question was a mistake, but his mouth had already started moving and he didn’t want to stop it and make it sound like he’d been electrocuted or something. ‘What do you mean?’

Derek rolled his eyes. ‘Are you serious? Think outside the box, adapt to new paradigms. Come on people, this is Tuesday morning and we’re in the best company in the world let’s get fired up!’

Everyone looked nervously at each other, not sure if they should start cheering or run into battle with a barbarian horde.

‘You know what, emotion is created by motion so everyone on their feet.’ Derek was yelling and those around the table reluctantly dragged themselves to their feet, apart from Justine who sprung out of her chair like the little kiss-ass she always was. ‘That’s the spirit Justine,’ said Derek through insanely white teeth. ‘Now the rest of this meeting is going to be done while walking.’

Confusion reigned again as those present wondered where they were going to walk. Jack hoped it would be to the coffee shop but he doubted it.

‘Come on, start moving, around the table we go.’

‘You gotta be kidding,’ said Jason, who had come out of his coma and was now being forced on a death march.

The rest of the meeting passed without too many incidents, apart from Jason bumping his knee on a chair and one of the other managers walking in and just standing there for a few minutes with a smile on his face as if the walkers were clowns performing for his entertainment, which in a way they were.

‘Okay that’s great,’ said Derek once Craig had finished his bunch of pointless words that almost sounded like English. ‘I want to keep this under an hour so let’s wrap it up there. We all know our action points for next week, Alison will email them through to you just in case.’Derek pointed to Alison, his secretary who had been scribbling maniacally since the meeting started. And then with that, Derek was gone.

They all looked at each other, still standing and those who were proactive enough were still holding notebooks. Justine did a couple of jumps, let out a little ‘Yeah,’ and sprang out of the room and Jack and the others nodded knowingly to each other. They’d come through something today and now they were bound together in a bond of which they would never speak. Until next week when Derek would make them wear stupid hats.