Cutting Off Your Nose to Spite Your Face

I am currently dealing with an irritating person at work – someone who is exhibiting a very common trait that one often finds in the business world. You could call this guy a “low-level executive” or a “first-level manager” or something like that. He is apparently having a technical problem of some kind that I may or may not be able to deal with, but he is refusing to actually talk to me about whatever it is.

The thing is, often times people who are standing on this kind of humble second or third rung-of-the-ladder in an organization are extremely insecure and hyper-sensitive to their “status”. To try to bolster their own prestige and self-image they simply refuse to follow the “established procedures” that everyone else uses. Instead, they believe that by going personally to another “manager” or “executive” who is at their same level in the organization or even higher, that then they will be given some kind of priority commensurate with their self-defined significance. In other words, they think that they are important enough to “jump the line”.

Of course, most organizations are hierarchical and that means that sometimes there really is someone who is more important than everyone else (like the CEO of a company or the president of a college) but when this attitude is displayed in a lowly second-rung person it is just hilarious and eminently prank-worthy. The funniest part of it is that this sort of person is so concerned with their image that they cannot even see that going straight to the worker’s boss (or boss’s boss) with a personal appeal is actually getting them far worse service than following-the-rules would get them. This isn’t always malicious on the part of us worker-bees either. It is simply that when a request comes in from a bizarre angle or through an unconventional communication vector, it can’t be dealt with as efficiently as when things happen “like they are supposed to”. In fact, “standing in line with the rest” usually provides far faster and more effective service than butting in line will – no matter how puffed up the VIP-wannabe can make himself.

Anyway, I really-and-truly cannot figure out what this guy’s problem is. He sent a note to my boss so obscure and cryptic (probably the middle of a much longer conversation) that I have no idea what he is complaining about. I sent him a reply saying; “I don’t know what your problem is, please explain it to me”, and he replied back that it was all in the original referral note (Not!) and of course he copied my boss again because god-forbid that he actually communicate directly with a peon like me on the first-rung when he is all the way up in the stratosphere of the second rung. Wow, dude – do you honestly think that this is going to get you what you want?

I suppose that I could ask my boss what this guy’s problem is, and get a second-hand version, but at this point I am now  thoroughly annoyed with this childish game. In spite of this guy’s over-inflated ego he is not important enough in the organization for there to be any blow-back on me from stonewalling him, so I am going to wait to the last moment of the day (for the sake of the time-stamp) and write him back saying that – Sorry, no, I don’t know what you need. Please explain it to me. Maybe after a few days of this ping-pong match he will come to realize that soiling himself by speaking to a “grunt” might be an unfortunate necessity from time to time. I could even supply him with a clothespin for his hoity-toity snout if he needs it.

Halleluiah! Christmas is Finally OVER!

Tuesday, 3/17, was Saint Patrick’s Day; 9-days after Daylight Savings started and 5-days before the vernal equinox marks the official celestial Declaration of Spring. It was also the first day since mid-November that a neighbor of ours turned off their goddamn Christmas lights. These were the traditional multicolored outdoor string-lights that were wrapped around a small fir tree in their yard and we can see them from our bedroom window. Those stupid things have been burning every-single night from dusk to dawn since just about the first frosty nocturne of autumn.

I know that there are any number of people who do this – try to maintain “Christmas” all winter and burn outdoor lights and/or keep Christmas Trees (hopefully artificial ones) up and trimmed and lit inside their house until the crocuses, daffodils and tulips finally embarrass even them into feeling stupid.

This is not “festive” however – this is just plain nuts. I would honestly be scared to meet one of these people on a dim, shadowy street at night because this is the same type of inscrutable mindset shared by crazed, wild-eyed slashers. I can only suppose that these poor insane souls must have had an atrocious upbringing and are desperately trying to recover the unknown delights of childhood by telling themselves that they are “spreading happiness” and trying to vicariously live off of this imaginary pleasure of others like vampires.

If you too are one of these people, let me say; 1) Please seek professional help. Though this symptom in itself may be relatively benign, you clearly have deep and serious personal issues that need to be worked through before something truly horrible happens and/or you permanently warp your own children; 2) If your psychosis is so overwhelming that you simply cannot control yourself – at least keep your goddamn “joy” in your goddamn house and do not subject the rest of the world to your lunacy with a grotesque and inappropriate public display.

A Cultural Apex?

I work at a small college in the IT department. This is Spring Break week for our school and most students (but far from all) are gone for the week. This is not a quiet laid-back time for us support staff though. As is true at the semester-break in January, this is our Busy Time when we have to run around and try to get some disruptive things done without all the students underfoot. We have a major summer project planned to upgrade our campus wifi environment and in preparation for this we need to run some tests to verify our wifi coverage projections in the dorm-rooms. We are taking advantage of the absence of most of the students this week to set up a test environment and enter the rooms to check the signals. Although the students are gone, all of their stuff is still here of course because the break is only a week long. Obviously we touch nothing and leave the room exactly as we found it and for the most part I am not even interested in what is in these places and pay no attention. My wife asked me a while ago however what it was that students hung on their walls these days, so yesterday I made a couple of quick mental notes on that subject as we were making our rounds.

We probably entered about 15 rooms yesterday to test the wifi signal. Of those 15 rooms, two different ones had Beatles posters, two others had Jimi Hendrix posters, one had a John Cleese “Ministry of Funny Walks” poster and one had a Doctor Who “Dalek” poster. There were also plenty of sports posters and other subjects that I did not recognize too, of course. The thing that I find curious though is the number of featured wall-hangings that represent what has to be “ancient civilization” to these college students. The iconic Abbey Road photo, for example, was taken in 1969 and not only predates the student who hung it, but it is almost certainly older than that student’s parents also.

I know that there are those of my age-bracket (I am 61) who would smugly claim that this longevity is “proof” of the cultural superiority of the 60’s and 70’s, but I have always dismissed that attitude as generational chauvinism. It does make me wonder however. I can say that when I was in college in the early 1970’s there was no one who hung posters celebrating the heroes (whoever they were) of our grandparent’s generation as I was seeing out there in the rooms yesterday. When I entered college in 1971 I couldn’t have told you who any pop-music or movie icon of 1925 was (the same 46-year span that Abbey Road represents today). I remember that I did hang a poster in my dorm-room of the famous self-portrait of Leonardo da Vinci because he was and remains one of my personal heroes, but 460 years seems to be in a different category than 46.