The one about tube-based meat and workplace conversations


You know how, sometimes, when you’re walking down a hall at work and you start to pass a couple of friends who are in the middle of a conversation and you hear just part of a sentence that sparks your interest—in a bit of a perverse way—and you sort of do a double take?

Well, as I was strolling back toward my assigned work area Friday afternoon, I heard Craig say, “…it turned out to be the big meat debacle.”

He had my attention locked in with “big meat.” I stopped dead in my tracks.

Dan looked over at me and sensed wicked thoughts forming as I began breaking into a grin and—trying to steer me properly into their conversation—asked, “Do you like bologna?”

“Actually, yes, fried. If it’s really thick.” Then, smiling, I made a gesture showing girth by way of the space between my thumb and forefinger.

Their four eyes widened in unison. They thought I was certainly heading down an extremely NSFW route.

Dan, who broke into one of his rare—but always welcome—elfish grins tried to redirect, “You know what I like? Braunschweiger.”

“Love Braunschweiger. Love it on toasted rye,” I said.

As Dan and I made small talk about plastic-tube-based-meat-products Craig chimed in with a comment that he delivered so innocently that it almost demanded a saucy response. “I’m about Middle European meat,” he said.

Four wide eyes were on me again as I considered—for a just fraction of a second—where I might take that opening and how far I might go with a response. I decided to take a pass.

“I’m out of here,” I chuckled. “Middle European meat has always been my exit cue.”


  • Sometimes you have to forgo a really ribald—yet promisingly funny—response for the sake of a respectful workplace.
  • Stories like these are only truly funny if you know all of the players. (But then again, so many of you do.)

By Stephen Brockelman

As a Sr. Writer at T. Rowe Price, I work with a group of the best copywriters around. We belong to the broader creative team within Enterprise Creative, a part of Corporate Marketing Services. _____________________________________________ A long and winding road: My path to T. Rowe Price was more twisted than Fidelity’s green line. With scholarship in hand, I left Kansas at 18 to study theatre in New York. When my soap opera paychecks stopped coming from CBS and started coming from the show’s sponsor, Proctor & Gamble, I discovered the power of advertising and switched careers. Over the years I’ve owned an ad agency in San Francisco; worked for Norman Lear on All in the Family, Good Times, Sanford and Son, and the rest of his hit shows; and as a member of Directors Guild of America, I directed Desi Arnaz in his last television appearance— we remained friends until his death. In 1988 I began freelancing full time didn’t look back. In January 2012 my rep at Boss Group called and said, “I know you don’t want to commute and writing for the financial industry isn’t high on your wish list, but I have a gig with T. Rowe Price in Owings Mills…” I was a contractor for eight months, drank the corporate Kool-Aid, became a TRP associate that August, and today I find myself smiling more often than not.

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