Jamie Takes Strain by David Macfie
The following morning, as agreed, the Taurian leadership and the humans met again straight after breakfast. They got right down to work on the communication approach that the Taurians should take with their colleagues on the twenty five ships. The humans considered that the approach taken was too flimsy in terms of reasons and justification and felt that a more structured approach was required with the rationale and benefits clearly defined. The joint team brainstormed and fleshed out a new approach which the Taurians felt would do the trick once they had all come up to speed. It was agreed that contacting the command groups on the problem ships would begin later that day.
The group now moved on to the dossiers of the leaders of the humans on the same ships. As promised these were now available on the equipment in the training room and on the personal computers in the human accommodations. The dossiers were studied one at a time. They had been well prepared and had not only a clear colored photo and all of the background, qualifications and experience of each leader but also an analysis of their behavior since the start of the voyage to Androm. Jamie interrupted once all of them had been examined once.
“Have you got a similar analysis of my behavior since we were taken as well?” he asked with a serious expression on his face.
Komando-Ka didn’t bat an eyelid.
“Of course we have, but yours is much longer than these ones. You’ve been much busier than your counterparts.”
The human team burst into laughter and shortly after the Taurians joined in.
Jamie also didn’t bat an eyelid.
“I’ll show you yours if you show me mine,” he replied with a grin. This quip got just as big a laugh from the humans who caught the double meaning, but the Taurians looked puzzled.
Jamie laughed then took pity on them.
“What I said has a double meaning,” he explained. “One is the obvious interpretation. The other is a sexual reference to our private parts.”
There was a moment of stunned silence while the commander’s team digested this explanation, then suddenly they all saw the joke and roared with laughter.
When everyone had settled down again, Nunamo-Ge turned to the commander.
“These humans have a subtle sense of humor, with few boundaries in terms of topic. I find it amusing and rather refreshing. I feel we are too serious most of the time. Wouldn’t you agree?”
“I would indeed, but we better introduce such humor gently. I fear some of my colleagues might find it offensive, if they understood it at all.” The other Taurian leaders grinned also, finding this a true reflection of their upper echelons.
“Let’s get back to work,” suggested Jamie, with a grin of his own. “The report back on behavior during the trip is very useful. It clearly charts the deterioration in behavior and a total lack of leadership skills from both sides, if you will pardon my sweeping generalization.”
“No pardon required,” replied the commander. “I agree with your assessment. The situation was allowed to deteriorate too far before we were informed.”
“It makes the start of our intervention much more difficult,” pointed out Jamie. “We have some seriously bad attitudes here that we must break down and reverse before we will get cooperation out of these people.” He looked round his team.
“Anybody have any suggestions on how we should kick off the interaction?” he asked.
The other team members looked at each other and by an unspoken agreement that showed his team had discussed this, Gillian took the role of spokesperson.
“We had a chat about this last night but wanted to know what the leader split was between men and woman. I’m surprised, and I think the others are too, that there are fifteen women and only ten men. We expected far more men than women. Anyway our proposal is that we split that group and our women here deal with the women leaders while the men deal with the men. Our reasoning is that women tend to be less aggressive and more open to reason. Men, particularly if they are angry, tend to be confrontational. We intend to divide the ladies into five groups of three and each of us will take one group. We made an outline plan for our approach, which we will refine once we have studied and discussed the profiles and chosen the makeup of each sub-group. Our objective when dividing into the smaller groups is to make sure that all the ladies have their say. Smaller groups are always more manageable than large ones.” She nodded to Peter, who took over.
“On the male side we will split into two groups of five. We will put the most aggressive five into the first group that will be handled by Jamie and Brian, while George, Robert and I look after the second five. Again we have an outline plan to be refined. Male and female plans will be ready to execute by the day after tomorrow. So all the infrastructure must be in place by then. Can you handle the networking that will be needed to allow the greater group to be handled as seven smaller groups?”
“We’ll finalize the video streaming once you give us the final plan with the allocations of names to groups,” replied Nunamo-Ge. “My technicians have to do this sort of thing on a regular basis. I assume you will begin and end with sessions involving the whole group and then split the twenty five into the smaller groups for the working sessions in the middle. Is that correct?”
“Yes it is. Thank you,“ replied Peter.
“Now can we finalize the allocations of the two hundred and fifty humans to assignments on Androm?” requested Jamie. “Then we’ll be done for today.”
This was a tedious job that, with a short break for lunch, took the rest of the morning and half of the afternoon. Finally it was done. Jamie had one final request.
“Please make all the arrangements for these allocations, but we should only activate them at the end of the video-conference. Do we all agree on this?”
Agreement was swift and the meeting broke up. At a signal from Komando-Ka, Jamie remained with the Taurians, when the other humans departed.
“I scheduled a conference with the Taurian leaders of the first five ships to take place now,” he said to Jamie. “I have scheduled the other four groups of five for tomorrow. Are you comfortable with that?”
“Yes, the sooner we get those guys on the right track the better,” replied Jamie, with a smile. “I didn’t expect this to be a short day.”
Nunamo-Ge got busy with his keyboard and started bringing the first five ships into the conference. They had the same command structure as Komando-Ka’s vessel so the conference had twenty six attendees including Jamie. Introductions were made all round. Tipanapo-Zu slipped Jamie a thin dossier with names and photos by ship so that he could keep track of who was who.
Komando-Ka chaired the meeting and made an introductory summary of the status of activities on his own ship. He then handed over to Jamie, who explained carefully how and why this ship had gradually worked through the difficulties encountered to reach that state. He stressed the emotional state that the humans had been in at the start and explained how that affected their reactions. He also stressed the facts that humans generally don’t like to be manipulated of threatened or backed into a corner and showed how some of the approaches taken by the ship command structures could be interpreted. His words stimulated discussion on why the changes made to the approach had benefited the interactions between the humans and the Taurians. He also brought up the fact that the two races seemed to work extremely well together once tensions had been removed. He tabled a number of examples of the enhanced creative processes that had already happened.
The longer the discussions lasted the more the leaders from the other ships understood the process that had taken place and accepted its genuine value to them. The nature of the discussions changed at that point from what had already happened on the first ship to how the leaders on the other ships must alter their own behavior. The conference ended with a briefing on the video conference that would take place with their human leaders.
Before he left the meeting, Jamie had several final questions for Komando-Ka.
“You explained to me the details of the crisis on Taurus and the resulting Androm project including the human resources abduction program involving three hundred and fifty of your space ships. Have the humans on the other ships been told the same details? And also, have they been told about the problems currently being experienced elsewhere?”
“No to both questions,” replied the commander. “Why?”
“I think they need to understand the high stakes from your side, the importance of their own role in solving your situation and how this is an opportunity rather than a threat.”
“Makes sense,” acceded the commander, with a frown of concentration. “It certainly worked here.”
“So, do I have your permission to explain these things to the leaders?”
“Yes, of course. And I appreciate that you asked instead of just doing it. That means we won’t be surprised or discomfited the day after tomorrow. Tonight, I will contact the leaders of the five we spoke to today to warn them also.”
That evening Jamie studied the dossiers of the humans he would come into contact with at the video conference. He memorized the faces, the experience and the behavior of each and noted the assignment allocation. He finished by thinking through how his approach to each of these leaders would be modified by their behavior patterns. Jenny sat with him as he worked, adding her own thoughts and suggestions. In the end they each had summarized notes for each leader and a good grasp of how they would approach the video-conference.
The following day, just after breakfast, Jamie started on the conferences with the other four groups of five ships each. They continued through the whole day right up to dinner time. By then Jamie felt emotionally, intellectually and physically drained by the concentration levels he’d had to maintain through the past two days. After dinner he didn’t want to do anything but sleep. But he forced himself to study his notes for the next day and finally fell, exhausted, into bed.