Phrases that should not be heard during a business lunch :
[ul][li] “They shouldn’t segregate ‘at risk’ prisoners, stick in with the rest and let nature take its course”[/li][li] “So, you’d be OK if a member of your family was executed for a crime they didn’t commit”[/li][li] “If someone touched my daughter I’d go and kill him”[/ul][/li]I’m paraphrasing, but still, it’s not that I agree or disagree with the above, it’s just that this was a business lunch, one does not discuss rape and murder during a business lunch, not where I come from certainly. This is during an on-going discussion between the management and the customer (well potential partners really) who we’re trying to sell the system to. Made worse by the fact the management and the customers were obviously never going to agree. Made even worse by the fact that the three engineers (of which I am one) gave up their lunch hour for a couple of (really quite good) sandwiches so we’d be on hand to answer technical questions. Not be forced to sit there and and listen to them debate the state of society. I think they covered gun control, the death penalty, speeding, criminal justice, probably a couple of other things I tuned out, but managed to avoid religion as far as I recall.
The worst thing about all of this is that I sat quietly through all the nonsense being spouted from all sides, gritted my teeth as the same old myths and tripe was paraded around. I decided that it would bad if I started arguing with the customers – or with management in front of the customers – apparently it’s OK for the management to argue with the customers. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t heated or even that uncomfortable, I think they were all enjoying themselves, but it was deeply, deeply inappropriate IMHO. And while management didn’t start it they certainly did very little to steer the conversation in a better direction and at the end were actively extending the argument.
In the end I adopted a bemused smirk and sat quietly drinking coffee.
So, I’m interested – am I wrong, is that appropriate conversation for a business lunch ? Should I have jumped in and explained my views ? Should I have politely corrected the factual mistakes on both sides ? Or should I just have stood up and said “Oh, for fucks sake!” and wandered off.
Apologies for the lack of creative swearing, but I’m really more amused than pissed off.