Now I understand, as a corporate drone, that I must do my part to politely support whatever results, announcements, and other managerial hijinks (e.g., wacky PowerPoint presentations, digital videos of beaming employees, the playing of Outkast's Hey Ya!) are presented. So yesterday, when our bar graph towered over that of the competition's, and even when the new org chart was revealed, I contributed to the requisite applause with a clap that could be categorized as somewhere between the one used after a drained 3-foot putt on the 8th hole and the one used for my ex-boss's sister's band's performance at 7 PM on a Sunday night. A clap that can be summed up in one word: obligatory. Let's say a 2.5 on a scale of 1 to 10.
As I started drawing my hands back and forth, I expected a certain amount of noise (300 people, auditorium), but nothing could have prepared me for the woman next to me's clap. Besides being ear-splitting, it was wholly inappropriate. I'm talking a clap usually employed to try to get Pavorotti to come back for a third encore at the Met. I'm talking an 11.
Her hands seemed to hate each other. They smashed together with the determination of a caged bull raging against its pen, each crash of hands louder and more furious than the last. After the initial shock to my left eardrum, I looked over at her surprisingly small and delicate hands (white and veiny, held out and up, framed by the cuffs of a billowy polka-dotted blouse), trying to discover the secret to THE. LOUDEST. CLAPPING. EVER.
All I could make out was that her hands were slightly cupped (which improves decibel output--a fact even an amateur clapper would know). But I believe that it wasn't this cupping technique alone that created the jackhammering beside me. It was much more than that. I believe that this woman was experiencing rapture. I believe she so genuinely wanted to share her visceral responses to the corporate announcements (throughout the 2 hours, she emitted reactionary gasps, twitters of laughter, sympathetic ohs), that, when faced with the fact that she was one of many people in an auditorium, she chose the only way she knew she'd be heard in a blur of 600 hands: by clapping as loud as humanly possible.
I can categorically say, that nothing ever presented at a corporate quarterly meeting will illicit my overenthusiastic clap. I'm saving that for Stevie Wonder's third encore. That is, if I can still hear.