Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Resusci-Annie and the big, bad boss

I hadn't thought of this story in years, but it came up in conversation today and I need to tell it now, before I forget it again.

In the mid-70s my family lived on Long Island, New York, and I worked in the marketing department of a well-known fast food restaurant chain. My direct supervisors were nice guys, but the head honcho was one of the most arrogant men (he was second most, actually) I ever met. On top of that, he had a beastly temper, snarling and snapping every word he spoke. Most of us just did our best to stay out of his way.

One day, to the surprise of everyone there, a Resusci-Annie dummy was delivered to the office. We learned later that Annie was to be used in training restaurant personnel how to do chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, but on that day we had no idea what she was or why she was there. All we knew was that someone had delivered a suitcase, somebody else had opened it, and there inside, all folded up, was a dead-looking blonde with a bad haircut. Annie's plastic body was dressed in a polyester jogging suit that had fake white tennis shoes attached to the ends of the empty legs.

As luck would have it, on the day Annie arrived, the big chief was not expected to be in the office. It didn't take long for creative marketing minds to run wild. In a matter of minutes, Annie was ensconced in the boss's luxurious private office, reclining comfortably in his enormous, expensive leather chair. Her empty pants legs stretched out before her, one crossed casually over the other, and her tennis-shod feet rested on his desk. One plastic hand held the telephone, the other had a cigarette wedged between its fingers.

About ten of us surrounded Annie, laughing and admiring our cleverness, when the receptionist gave us a heads-up that the boss had returned unexpectedly and had just stepped off the elevator. In your whole life, you never saw people scatter any faster than we did that day, and by the time the boss walked through the front door, all of us were back in place and studiously taking care of business. All of us except Annie, that is; we'd had to abandon her.

As usual, the boss didn't speak to anyone as he entered his inner sanctum and closed the door behind him. We all braced for an immediate explosion, but it didn't come. Heads stayed down, and eyes started sending nervous, questioning glances. For about five minutes, we heard nothing.

All of a sudden, the door burst open and out he came, the lifeless body of Resusci-Annie in his arms. He charged across the floor into the middle of the secretarial pool. There, as jaws dropped, he raised Annie high above his head, then dashed her to the floor. Face red and eyes bulging, he glared at the jumbled heap of Annie. All eyes were glued to the scene and there was a shocked, dead silence, until he growled, in his most menacing voice, "Now, when I say 'type faster,' goddammit, I mean type faster!"

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