Saturday, December 18, 2010
A Christmas Story
When I got out of grad school and was working for KeyCorp, the 8th largest bank in the US at that time, I found myself at a holiday employee party in Beachwood Ohio, ground zero for Jews in the Cleveland area. I'm a born Lutheran who likes Christmas and Easter, but am pretty indifferent to organized religion. As Eric Hoffer noted, 'the opposite of the religious fanatic is not the fanatical atheist but the gentle cynic who cares not whether there is a god or not.' Anyway our CEO Victor Riley was there to give the standard holiday pep talk. The theme was 'The Real Meaning of Christmas', which I figured meant something relating to transcendent ideas about love, charity, or family. Instead told the audience that the real meaning of Christmas was: The baby Jesus.
The mainly Jewish audience looked at each other. Sure, it made sense to a Catholic, but it's important to know your audience. I thought it was a hysterically obtuse attempt at profundity. Luckily, he didn't follow up with his thoughts on the real meaning of Easter.
The CEO left and we were drinking holiday spirits, everyone tried to forget his statements as if they were never said. Now, CEOs are generally people-persons, emotionally intelligent, people who can work a room. It reminded me that everyone's an idiot at something, even things in their bailiwick.