Math is not my strong suit. Anything much beyond “this little piggy went to market” begins to blur. And those awful, “if a train leaves Timbucktu at 9 a.m, how many passengers will be on board when it goes off the rails” problems make my brain hurt.
Going off the rails brings me to the public shame my math skills produced during my short but eventful tenure in corporate America.
The PR department, all two of us, were assigned to create a company-wide program to celebrate its first 80 years of business.
In a lightening-strike blast of brilliance, we called it THE SECOND 80. The elements were simple: a company history, a multiple-projector dog and pony show, a gathering up of community leaders in each town for a tour of the company plant, and a party for all the plant workers. Amazingly it was such a success that it won a national PR award.
My boss and I travelled from plant town to plant town, executing the program flawlessly.
And then, due to a scheduling conflict, I had to do one by myself.
It began well. The bus gathered up all the town leaders, from the Mayor down to the local hardware store manager, and I carefully counted them when they boarded. Off we went to the chicken processing plant. Ah, the glamour.
The plant manager greeted the town dignitaries, and they embarked on a plant tour. I stayed with the bus. You can only see so many craw-pullers and eviscerators hard at work before you become a vegetarian.
After the tour, the town leaders came back to board the bus, and I dutifully counted them again to make sure no one was abandoned at the chicken factory. When I was sure everyone was there, I told the bus driver to take us to the community center where the rest of the festivities were to unwind. I was proud of myself. So far, so g….
We were about a block away from the plant when I heard someone from the back of the bus gasp “nooooo.” More voices joined to created a muddled chorus of, “wait….stop the…good grief..bus”. I raced to the back of the bus and looked out the window.
The mayor of the town, a short, stubby woman wearing a blue tailored suit and high heels, was racing behind the bus on the graveled road, engulfed in a cloud of white dust, waving her arms wildly.
I had unintentionally created the much described “short bus. And I felt like its first passenger, condemned to “this little piggy” hell forever