THE NICE CONFERENCE ROOM — Bob Hastings’ boss rushed to his cubicle and told him they were meeting with the Secretary in half an hour.
The office dress code is business casual, but employees are unofficially supposed to have a suit at the ready in case something important happens. In Bob’s three years at his agency nothing important had happened.
All three years he kept a suit unworn on a hangar behind his door. Finally he needed it for a friend’s wedding and brought it home to wear over the weekend. It was still at the cleaners on Tuesday when the surprise meeting with the head honcho came out of nowhere.
“I would have expected to be fired right there on the spot if the government was allowed to fire people,” Hastings said. “Instead he told me to find a tie and pretend I had been wearing a jacket earlier.”
Hastings raced to the nearest street vendor hawking apparel and bought the only tie they had, which was graffiti pink and green with “DC” written across it. He put it on over his standard issue government pale blue shirt bought at the semi-annual Brooks Brothers three-for-$178 sale and sprinted back up to his office.
He had “no clue what the meeting was about,” and “just grabbed a Gregg-ruled notebook to have something to pretend to take notes on.”
Not seeing his boss, Hastings assumed he had left for the meeting. He speed walked to the nice conference room and sat down in the back.
Hastings said, “I was furiously scribbling fake notes, and I had no idea who any of these people were.”
That’s because, as Hastings learned later when his boss asked him why he was wearing that stupid tie, the meeting had been canceled.