Res bossitans

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Conference Call Anatomy™

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Per Otto Büchstein’s formulation in Discourse on Intercourse, the person on the conference call whose fundamental essence is to tell the others what to do (in Büchstein’s phraseology a “action-assigning thing” or “res bossitans”). More generally, the person — often a contractor from Deloitte — whose sacred role in the organisation is to prod his colleagues in the ribs whenever they seem to be enjoying themselves.

The classic exchange is this:

Scene: An all-hands conference call. Late in the day. The agenda is to debating an idea allegedly floated at an industry forum which, plainly, no one likes. Attendees, severally, quietly feel their life essences draining away.

Attendee 1: OK, so that there seems to be consensus: it sounds like a bad idea.
Attendee 2: Agreed. It’s hard to configure, there are potential regulatory issues and it doesn’t really fit our business model.
Attendee 3: Yeah, but the industry group — (shrugs) — um ... Goldman.
Attendee 1: Stupid idea, though, right?
Attendee 2: Yeah. But who knows — maybe they’ll figure out a way to make this work, but not likely.
Attendee 3: OK why don't we just leave it?
Attendee 1: Yeah, definitely. Maybe just keep an eye on it — in case they do figure it out.
Attendee 2:Yeah. Monitor it. We can join later if that happens. Just monitor it.[1]
Attendee 3:Passively.
All attendees (nodding, in unison): Passively monitor it.
Res bossitans (clears throat): Who is going to take an action to passively monitor it?

Attendees, severally, quietly imagine bludgeoning the bossitans with a rock. But they will say nothing.


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  1. Needless to say this is code for “forget it”. Alas, this code is unknown to res bossitans.