My boss — I’ll call him Steve, since that’s what his name is — was standing in front of the entire sales and marketing team to announce the planned launch of our brand new software upgrade. In his role as head of product development, he wanted to gin up enthusiasm for the upcoming release.
“Today I’m going to share all of the exciting new features and functionality we’ve built into our flagship product,” Steve said. “Your role in sales and marketing is to generate significant inertia so that we can hit the ground running.”
My first mistake was to raise my hand. Steve saw me waving my hand. “Okay, Hank,” he said. “What’s your question?”
I stood up. “It’s not so much a question,” I said. “More like a correction. You mean you want to generate significant interest, right?”
“Yes, that’s what I said,” Steve responded.
I should have just sat back down at that point, but instead, I stupidly continued. “No, you said ‘inertia.’”
“Fine,” Steve said. “Inertia, interest, whatever. Same thing.”
“Actually, they’re not the same, Steve. Inertia is a tendency to do nothing or to remain unchanged,” I said. “It’s a lack of action or forward progress. You’re using that word incorrectly.” A murmur ran through the meeting attendees.
Seeing Steve glaring at me, I sat back down and remained silent for the remainder of the meeting. When Steve completed his presentation and the others were filing out the room, I walked up to Steve. “Hey Steve,” I said, “I’m really sorry. I was totally out-of-line. I apologize. It won’t happen again.”
“No it won’t, Hank,” Steve said. “You humiliated me in front of the whole room and I won’t have it. You’re fired. Pack up your personal stuff and be out of here by the end of the day.”
Written for today’s One-Word Challenge from Fandango (that’s me!). The word is “inertia.” Image credit: geralt at Pixabay.com.