Monday, July 27, 2009

The CEO’s Personal Assistant Briefs His Understudies

First off, I’d like to express my gratitude to you all for coming out to listen to an old timer like me on a sunny day when you’d rather be out golfing or dining at Hooters. I won’t keep you too long. I know you have all been instructed on what to say in certain situations, and of whom you would be better off just steering clear of all together. I just wanted to make sure you understood a few things about why we greatly discourage you from interacting with certain types in public situations, as when the cameras are rolling and the microphone is in your face. You’ll come across all types in the media’s scrum. The type I want to tell you all about today, before I let you go off and do some PR and minor damage control out there, is the Pepperer.
Now, just so we’re clear, peppering people with questions is not the best way to get the answers you want. I know because I’ve been peppered with questions from time to time, and, let me tell you, being peppered with questions is not pleasant. It does not make you want to answer anything. If you’ve ever been peppered with questions this is something you’ll understand. Unfortunately, the people who are often peppering one with questions rarely understand this, either because they have never been peppered with questions before, or because they have gastric reflux. Pepperers with gastric reflux, especially those who have not taken the proper medication to control their stomach acid, will be the least understanding of all Pepperers. Sometimes one can smell the chewable Pepcid on the breath of a longtime Pepperer. But Pepperers can come in all shapes and sizes, with or without gastric reflux, and many times will appear normal, that is they will try to fit in and blend with their surroundings so as not to be noticed until they start their peppering. This makes spotting them pre-peppering extremely difficult—though when they start in with their peppering, well, then they will be noticed. That is for sure. A Pepperer, while they are peppering, makes a point of standing out, of making a spectacle of themselves. Some might say this is vanity, a wanting to be noticed, a deep-seated need of wanting a hell of a lot of attention paid to them. Maybe mommy and daddy didn’t hold them enough when they cried as a baby. I don’t know. I don’t go in for all that headshrinker mumbo jumbo myself, and it is irrelevant anyway. I’m sure you guys don’t care either way, nor should you. That’s what they pay me the big bucks for.
Ahem. Anyway, all that’s important here, all that I really want to make you aware of, is that when they are peppering those questions at you, do not, under any circumstances respond to them. Yes, they will keep the fusillade of questions coming. The onslaught will continue. You might try pretending that they are speaking a language that you don’t understand. I find this works well for me. Even though their peppering is never very effective, a true Pepperer will not be dissuaded. It is as if the act itself of peppering somebody else with questions brings them joy. It is enough for them to be in the act of peppering to be happy. A Pepperer lives for these moments, when they can leap from the anonymity of the crowd and stand tall and be heard, when they can be unique and draw attention to themselves. When they can shout, “But what does that even mean?” after asking a barrage of at least a dozen disparate questions without giving more than a few moments for a reply. Never look a Pepperer in the eyes. Ignore them as much as possible. They may not go away, but you will be happy that you did not engage them. Nothing good can come from an interaction with a person who is peppering you with questions. I mean, some of these guys, their damn good at it. They must have doctorates in Peppering. Ha. That’d make them Doctor Pepperers, right?
Um. Okay. Be on the lookout, keep them eyes peeled and your ears open. I wish you all the best of luck. Now. Go get ‘em boys. Give ‘em hell. Thank you for listening.