March 22, 2014 in Features

The Slice: What this party needs is a good background check

By The Spokesman-Review

My plan is to attend a friend’s retirement party this evening.

He is a good guy and I was pleased to be invited.

Here’s the thing, though. I have never actually worked with this man. We didn’t meet at the office.

But I assume most of those at the gathering will be co-workers. That might put me at a bit of a disadvantage in terms of getting inside jokes, et cetera.

So, to remedy that, I have prepared a questionnaire to distribute to his colleagues. When I have the results back, I can familiarize myself with the info and then mingle unconcerned about feeling like an outsider. (If you ever find yourself in a similar situation, feel free to borrow this backgrounder quiz.)

Which best describes his management style? A) “Let’s talk about how we can make this work.” B) “Just take care of it, for God’s sake.” C) “It’s your baby – but keep me posted.” D) “I’m sorry, I wasn’t listening. I was thinking about my boat.” E) Other.

What was his workplace nickname? A) The Mad Doctor. B) Ahab. C) Old Reliable. D) Captain Bligh. E) Other.

His default expression at the office was …? A) A smile. B) Tense, pursed lips. C) A scowl. D) A look of dyspeptic incredulity. E) Other.

His attitude about meetings could be described as … A) The fewer the better. B) Clear communication is critical, but let’s keep it short C) What’s a meeting? D) Charts and graphs will show us the way forward. E) Other.

His trademark saying at the office? A) “We’re going to need a bigger boat.” B) “Land, ho!” C) “Ramming speed!” D) “We keep you alive to serve this ship.” E) Other.

How did he dress at work? A) Like a scientist. B) Neat but not uptight. C) Like Thurston Howell III. D) Like Cap’n Crunch. E) Other.

What did colleagues say behind his back? A) “He is a gentleman.” B) “He has been talking like a pirate for years.” C) “He will notice if we half-ass it.” D) “His after-shave smells like salt water.” E) Other.

Today’s Slice question: How would you react if you saw someone walk through a clearly marked area where you were trying to grow grass from seed?

Write The Slice at P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210; call (509) 459-5470; email Does your first name ever get used for babies born in 2014?

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