NEEDHAM, Mass. It’s 9:30 p.m. here along Route 128, “America’s Technology Highway” according to the label boosters applied to it in the dawn of the computer revolution, but Armand Weisdorf is working the phones as if it’s 9:30 in the morning.
“Terrible news,” the recently appointed CEO says aloud on a conference call with division managers across the country. “Bob Kratchen died last night,” and a collective groan is heard from his lieutenants in offices as far away as California.
“Somebody will have to cover me for the call with analysts tomorrow, I have to make sure everything is okay with Meg and their kids,” and Chuck Armading, his VP-Finance sitting across from him, raises his hand and says he will cover the assignment. “Okay, thanks Chuck,” Weisdorf say, then begins to tap out an email to all employees now that his executive team has been brought up to speed.
“I am saddened to report that Bob Kratchen, who has worked here at Applied Widgetronix for the past 18 years rising from accounts payable clerk to CFO, has died after a long, courageous struggle with Osgood Schlatter’s Disease,” he writes, tears forming in his eyes. “Our thoughts and prayers to Ba’al, the creepy fertility god of ancient Phoenicia, are with Bob’s family at this time.”
Ba’al loves kids!
Armading, who hopes to take over the position vacated by the untimely death of his colleague, clears his throat as he looks over his boss’s shoulder.
“What? Weisdorf asks.
“Remember what HR said about tolerance in the workplace,” Armading says.
“I’m sorry, I’m CEO now, and I’ve had to put up with everybody else’s thoughts and prayers while I clawed my way to the top. It’s about time Ba’al-worshippers had their turn.”
“YOURS is a just and merciful god. OURS scares the crap out of everybody.”
Weisdorf taps “send” and the message wings its way to 1,178 employees worldwide, causing some to search the web to understand the reference when they read it the next morning, while veterans of the company snicker or roll their eyes. “That’s Armand,” says Kylie Murray, a receptionist. “They say you have to be a little crazy to lead a tech company, but he goes beyond the call of duty.”
With the rise of monotheism minor deities such as Ba’al have been “crowded out of sentimental workplace messages,” says Michael Norburn, a sociologist at the University of Boston. “People are always flapping their gums about ‘diversity,’ but when faced with a really cool supreme being like Ba’al or Zekron, everybody gets the whim-whams.”
The offense taken by some dissipates as the day goes on and they turn to their work cranking out an integrated cloud-based, blockchain [ed.–insert additional business buzz words] solution in the hope that the company will go public in the next 18 months and make them all rich with the stock options that Weisdorf has used as an incentive. “That’s the problem with a lot of your conventional religions,” says Tina Clarsweil, a programmer. “They offer you pie-in-the-sky, not awesome powers to crush your competitors.”