Always Time For a Debate
“I have a question.”
The briefing had been going well. Although, in the experience of Stevens and the other experts in the room, “well” was a relative term. The man they called by either his official title, or “sir”, or both was not the most attentive of listeners, but he was silent this time; head cocked to the side like a dog trying desperately to comprehend its master’s words. He probably didn’t understand, but at least he was not interrupting every few seconds to say “I know that!” or digress into rambling, self-aggrandizing stories like he normally did.
Most people came into the job with gaps in their knowledge. Most worked hard before starting the job to fill in those gaps, but the current incumbent didn’t have gaps so much as wide, yawning canyons. And he had no interest in filling them. As Stevens had told a colleague a few days previously — the man was too dumb to even know he was dumb.
But he was listening — or appearing to. He wasn’t interrupting. A complex discussion about concepts that were totally outside their boss’ frame of reference, and he sat there: quiet, almost serene, not drumming his fingers on the desk, sighing, or loudly proclaiming “BORED!”.
And then, his hand shot up into their air, his stubby finger pointing to the heavens.
“I have a question,” he said.
“Great — go ahead, sir,” demurred Stevens.
“Who’s stronger?” asked his boss, his mouth moving oddly, like a cow chewing cud.
“Uh, I’m-” Stevens stammered, looking to his colleagues, all of whom were suddenly very interested in the ceiling, or their shoes. “-I mean…I’m not sure what you mean. Sir.”
“I mean: who’s stronger? Me or Superman?”
“Um. I don’t see what this has to do with-”
“-Earlier this morning I was on the internet. Magnificent place, the internet. The best one, people say. I invented it, I think. Anyway. Some loser on there was saying Superman is the strongest being in the galaxy. Does that sound right?”
“I mean…you are, I guess?” sighed Stevens. “This really isn’t our area of expertise.”
“I am,” nodded the boss, looking satisfied. “Sounds about right, and you guys are boffins so I s’pose you’d know. I’ll Tweet that kid later and let him know he’s a loser, ’cause everyone knows I’m strongest.”
“Great,” said Stevens. “Now can we move on, Mr. President?”
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