Sunday, July 9, 2017

Dinner Table Operations

Dinner Table Operations

 Gordon S Fowkes, LTC USA RET

July 9, 2017

Chinese PRC National Day celebration in Sugar Land Texas

There is no better arena in which to observe the values, beliefs, behavior, and norms (VBBN) of culture than in the realm of the formal meal, be it Lunch, Supper, or Dinner (I never knew which was supper). It is here than the games of King of the Hill are played, and the Headspace Adjustment of the players is displayed. It can be said that the decorations, jewelry, exotic textiles, and hairdos and all the finery of pomp and circumstance are at the center of human adventure.

The Hats in Bogota, UPORFA meeting
The formal meal is traditionally the center of life for the nuclear family, the extended family, and greater family such as clan and tribe. Its extension into corporate and military life replicated the social role with often significant political and economic life. In the latter business sense, all the rules of a medieval dining hall remain.

As place and importance in life, the current score in King of the Hill as played out in accordance with the collective and individual’s headspace adjustment is played out in the placement on a dais or main table. The quarterly sales meeting at the local pricey hotel is the place where the current ranking is displayed for one and all.

Argentina, Ganaderos Regimental Diner
The Culture Trooper can gain pre-meal intelligence on the current or last standing of who is one what hill, and some clues as to the headspace adjustment by studying pictures taken of recent events, plus the advice of a friendly player.

Army Culture Center on Horn of Africa Food
Plastic Food in display window of Japanese Restaurants
The pre-meal cocktail or coffee warm up is useful in the same sense by breaking out the Suck Up Clusters (SUC) that mark the existence of competing, winning and losing clusters of people bound together by a sense of togetherness or search for approval by and of the main players in the cluster. SUC detection is one of human’s earliest developed social skill which is developed by age six and evolves to a matter of life or death (socially) in the mid-teens.

Warsaw CIOR
The geometric array at the school bus stop and seating order on the school bus is learned early in life. It continues in corporate life, and it takes a well-balanced person to operate independently of them. A quick sketch on the back of an envelope, or cocktail napkin, supplemented by digital photography can be used as order of battle (OB) files.

Vienna 2004 CIOR
The body languages of deference and domination are strongly influenced by culture, but such standard mannerisms as the Look Down the Nose at Lesser persons maneuver is widely used. The hand steeple is a similar mark of dominance.

 Those who fetch and carry are active seekers of approval from the favored few. While often lampooned in cartoons, and derided in literary works of great popularity. A#$ kissing is a more reliable route to fame and fortune that brilliance, bravery, and/or bounty. History is replete with the demise of great warriors, artists, bureaucrats, and kings undone by the gilded roaches that infest even the best of societies.

La Falda, St Joan
The position of Chamberlain, as in the United Kingdom, originally started as the position of the person who emptied the King’s chamber pot. This gives the ambitious the access to the Great One, that few others get. The role of Prime Minister began as the go between the king’s council or parliament, the rationale being to elevate the king above the messy business of dealing with contentious lesser folk..

Likewise, the position of body guard gains access to and trust by the Great One. The downside of this arrangement is that many revolutions and coups were carried out by the Favored Few. Al Capone rose to prominence by being body guard to Johnny Torio.  Saladin got his start that way.  The Lone Crackpot is still the most dangerous assassination threat to the powerful. They have organization that leaks, nor know ambition to power.

Famous Chinese Actress now in Houston
The score card of important people needs to keep tabs on those in the SUC and AKC.

CIOR in Italy
 In addition, those who handle the less glamorous assignments such as taking notes, keeping the records, and counting the dues, but it is those positions that the truly ambitious take on as they are they control the nervous system of the organization. The position of personal secretary is vital to control access to the boss.  Therefore, many secretaries are the real power of the corporation, a relation often cemented by marriage with the boss.

Who sits in the role of parliamentarian, normally a chairman/woman whose formal power is far less than the real power exerted by the ability to control the flow of communication to and from the Boss. It is no accident that the rules of communist states are typically a chairman, or a secretary, while the office of President is symbolic.

UPORFA - The leaership

There are great numbers of cultures outside of Texas that do the same. Africa and the Middle East are predominately of this sort except that one knows which of the clans, great families, or tribes have the insider track. In Texas, if you don’t know who they are, you don’t have a need to know.  It is also typical that the person who makes the presentation is not the lead actor, who in fact often sits in the back.

Mexico, table setting
 In any event, it is more than polite to enjoy the show,

Senor Tango in Buenos Aires

ChChi Club in Shanghai courtesy the Greater Houston Partnership