After I left the power plant and went to work for Dell on August 20, 2001, I wrote letters back to my friends at the plant letting them know how things were going. This is the fourteenth letter I wrote. Keep in mind that at the time when I originally penned this letter I didn’t intend on it being posted online.
11/16/01 – Meeting at Dell
I hope everything is going well with you. I suppose your overhaul went smoothly and you guys are getting ready for Thanksgiving.
We had a Hellacious storm last night. The neighbors were out in their Arks again. No rainbow this morning, so I guess we must be doing something wrong.
You guys know how I don’t really care to be the leader in a group, but I do like to be the recorder, or the facilitator, or something like that. Well. The other day I was elected to be the guy to take the minutes at a meeting. Since the purpose of this meeting was to schedule other meetings there was nothing proprietary that was discussed. So I thought it would be interesting to you guys to read what I wrote in the minutes of that particular meeting just to get a feel for the meetings at Dell.
It went like this: — Well before I start, let me just say that the names were changed to protect the innocent, so I changed Robert’s name to John, John’s name to Marvin, and Marvin’s name to Jim, and Jim’s name to Kevin, and Kevin’s name to Robert, Kori’s name to Shilpa, and Shilpa’s name to Rosalind, and Rosalind’s name to Kori. So don’t be too confused when you are reading the minutes and you are thinking “boy that sure sounds like something that Robert would have said”, but I said that John said it, well, now you will know why. Anyway, here goes:
Robert started out the meeting by mentioning that the Thanksgiving lunch this week was much better than the Mixer lunch last week. He thought that there was a lot better desserts at the Thanksgiving lunch. Shilpa nodded in approval.
Marvin looked at the other members around the room and then had a look as if he didn’t get the e-mail for either lunch so he just looked at the table for about five minutes as if he was dreaming about all the food that he wasn’t able to eat.
Jim said that he thought that the desserts at both lunches were equally good, and pointed out that the best dessert at both lunches was the blueberry, marshmellowy fruit bowl thing, (which he had brought and had made with his own two hands — unlike some others who had went down the street to Boston Market and bought their stuff. — The desserts and salads were brought by those members that remembered to bring something).
Kori said that she thought that the best time to hold the daily issues meeting would be in the afternoon right after lunch, but Rosalind said that right after lunch she has too much trouble staying awake and that later in the afternoon would be better for her, and then Kori said that it shouldn’t be too late because she usually likes to leave early and she didn’t want to leave late because a meeting was late getting out.
Rosalind didn’t seem to hear what Kori was saying. At this point Rosalind’s head was beginning to nod up and down in apparent approval, until the point where her eyelids were visibly beginning to close. (Did I mention that this meeting was being held right after lunch?).
At this point Marvin had recovered from the shock of missing two free lunches, and he said that he thought the weekly code review meeting should be held every Friday morning in the team room at the corner of the building. Jim began to chuckle, and when Marvin asked why, Jim said that we couldn’t have our meeting there, because the Breakfast Club sets up breakfast there every Friday morning, and we wouldn’t want to be sitting there discussing programming code while someone is frying pancakes.
Marvin said, “Breakfast Club? What the Fricken is Breakfast Club?” Then Marvin said he had to go burn one and he left the room. (‘burn one’ is Texas lingo for smoking a cigarette. At Dell, you have to stand at least 50 ft. from any Dell entrance if you want to smoke a cigarette). Kevin at that point said, “Well, if he would go read his e-mail instead of ‘burning one’, maybe he wouldn’t be so skinny.” (Remember, I changed Jim’s name to Kevin, so that wasn’t me that said that, it was someone else).
Jim stated that we could meet for our daily progress meetings at 2 in the afternoon, and Kevin said that he couldn’t because he had another meeting scheduled every day at that time. So Jim suggested that we could meet at 3 in the afternoon, and Robert said, “that would be alright, but I have my one-on-one with Kevin on Wednesdays during that time, if I can change that meeting time, then that would work.
Then Kevin said that Robert could change his meeting time to Thursday at 1 in the afternoon, and then Shilpa said that she was hoping that we could hold the code reviews on Thursday at 1 because Rosalind doesn’t really care that much about the code review, and if she falls asleep, that’s ok. Everyone looked at Rosalind, and she didn’t object, (though there was a slight purring sound emanating from her throat).
So Robert suggested that we could hold the one-on-one during the breakfast club time on Friday morning and eat breakfast while we discussed the world events and career development (I gave it away that I changed my name to Robert didn’t I? By saying “we” when I was talking about a “one-on-one” meeting — oh well. If you had looked up at the top of this letter, you would have figured it out that I was Robert anyway).
Marvin rejoined the meeting. He was soaking wet. Jim asked if it was raining outside. Marvin nodded that it was. He squished and squished his shoes on the way to his chair.
Marvin said that he thought the development server Dev AP Oh One should be upgraded to Win two Kay. (Note: I am spelling it out like it sounds, He was actually talking about a server that has the name (Note: the actual name of the server has been removed because it is propriety information), but we refer to it as DevAp01 for short, and he thought that it should be upgraded to Windows 2000).
Jim pointed out that this was not an issues meeting, this is a meeting resolution meeting, and we should discuss that in the issues meeting, not a meeting meeting. So Marvin said, “When is the issues meeting?” Kevin said that we were going to have it right after lunch, but now it will conflict with the Code Review Meeting on Thursday, so we will move it to later in the afternoon.
Kori groaned at this point and said, “but not too late. I want to be able to leave early, and if the meeting runs late, I’ll be later.” Everyone agreed that no one wants the issues meeting to run late, and it really can’t because Jim has another meeting directly after the issues meeting if we hold the issues meeting at 3:30.
Then Shilpa said to Robert, “Aren’t you on the fun committee?” and Robert said that he was, and so Shilpa said, “So what sort of fun things are we going to do at this meeting? And Robert said that we were going to eat candy from Rosalind’s Halloween bowl, and we were going to watch Jim stack up Starbursts to see how high he can stack them before they fall over.
Then if we still needed to have more fun, Robert was going to lick a tootsie pop over and over again to find out how many licks it took to get to the center of the tootsie pop. — It was after saying that statement that Robert began to feel that most of the rest of the people in the meeting were much younger than him, and hadn’t seen the commercial with the owl licking the tootsie pop. So Robert sat back down after his triumphant speech and quietly said, “and that’s what we’re going to do.”
So we all ate candy, and watched Jim stack the starbursts, and when he had stacked five of them end on end they fell over, and when they looked at Robert for more fun, he opened a tootsie pop, and licked it three times, then bit into it and said, “Three”. Then Marvin said, “I get it.” Then the meeting was adjourned.
That was it.
Kevin J. Breazile
Programmer Analyst II
Dell Computer Corporation