I worked through lunch today trying desperately to un-cluster a fuck that need not have been clustered to begin with. The cluster in question was entirely self inflicted – as are most of our most damaging wounds, really. Truly we have met the enemy…
See, the problem is that we’ve got a really dumb habit of rewarding bad behavior. See, how I always, naively, thought it should work was that you provide ample lead time, sufficient instruction, and a deadline. Then, being reasonably close approximations of adult human beings, we can get that assignment done. What really happens, of course, is you provide the lead time, instructions, and deadline and everyone waits patiently until the deadline expires to begin screaming about not having the time, the people, or the money to get it done. All the pitfalls are things that could have been rectified early in the process if only people paid just a little bit of attention.
They don’t do that, of course. It’s far easier to blow off a deadline and expect someone else to jump through their ass to bail you out than doing the thing to begin with would have been. Hoping that there might be some level of accountability – that “because you didn’t do X, you cannot now do Y” – is a pipe dream at best. It’s one of those words we like to talk about, but not do a thing to enforce because it means someone is going to have to have an awkward conversation.
Day in and day out we reward bad behavior and then wonder why every single goddamned thing turns into a world-class cluster fuck.
Next week will be my personal version of hell, featuring 12 hour days, 750 of my new best friends all crammed into one room, and having all the responsibility to make it go right, none of the authority to make any actual decisions, and every bit of the blame if the wheels fall off for any reason. If I were in any way in control of my own destiny this would basically be the very last thing in which I would ever knowingly engage. Yet, party planning sticks with me from job to job like some kind of Gypsy curse.
If next week is hell, this week is a strong contender for that title. It’s the week in which everyone who has been ignoring the impending arrival of hell week has their “oh shit” moment and realizes if they don’t do something they’re going to look like utter twatwaffles in front of a live studio audience. When I was teaching this was the part of the year when I got to tell students that no, they really were going to fail because they didn’t bother to do any homework. I’m told, however, that letting these people fail, regardless of how deserving they may be of it, is “unprofessional.”
It all means that in many ways I’m spoon feeding adult humans a lot of information that was previously made available in slides, and memos, and email, and through various and sundry face to face conversations. I’m paying for the same ground five or six times a day in some cases… and paying for the same ground over and over and over again makes Jeff very, very surly.
Whatever else may be in doubt this week, you can rest assured that behind this serene exterior is a stroke or heart attack just waiting for the right moment to strike me down.
1. Grown adults. I’m totally on board with kids being excited to see the snow. I’ll even forgive students who are excited at getting the day off. What I don’t think I will ever come to grips with are grown ass adults who crowd around the window eyes agog whispering and tee-heeing. Yes, it’s snowing. No, it’s not all that exciting. If you don’t stare askance out the window on a typical rainy day, there’s not much call to do it just because the temperature happens to be below 32 degrees. I know not everyone has gainful work to do on the day before a Thanksgiving, but I’m over here madly trying to get something wrapped up and off my desk before everyone makes a break for it so if you could at least pretend to be productively engaged that would be great.
2. Internet legal experts. You know, I’d have a lot more respect for the deluge of legal “opinions” smothering the country if I had any sense at all that the people behind those opinions had any sense of the purpose of a grand jury or the basic concepts of how the legal system works. Although I taught basic civics, I’d never have the audacity to claim undisputed knowledge about the intricacies and vagaries of the American judicial system. I do however know enough to be certain I’m not expert. That’s why I’ve not made many comments on the particular case du jure. While I haven;t hidden my opinion, I opted not to take to the interwebs to dazzle the world with it. I’d far rather stay quiet and be thought a fool than open my mouth and remove all doubt. It’s a shame the average American internet poster isn’t as circumspect.
3. Email. I was away from my desk most of last week, so when I stumbled in to the office on Monday I had approximately 900 emails waiting for me. Of those, I reduced 600 that were either overcome by events, spam, messages I was copied on for no apparent reason, or otherwise emails that didn’t require an action on my part besides hitting delete. Of the 300 remaining messages, 2/3 were of minor importance directly to me, were confirmations, status updates, or otherwise information that required little more than a “yes,” “no,” or “acknowledged” in way of response. That left approximately 100 messages that legitimately needed my attention, that required substantial thought, or that I needed to farm out to others in an effort to generate a response. We all could have saved a lot of time this week if the first 600 “so what” emails had never been sent. We could have saved a little more time if we collectively stopped to consider if we really needed to send any one of the next 200 messages. More importantly, I wouldn’t be scrambling around at the end of the 3rd day of mailbox clearing trying to respond to the 100 that really mean something if I hadn’t needed to wade through the other 800 emails to find those little gems. My point? Email is a tool, but you don’t have to be. Please use your distribution lists and the reply all button for good instead of evil.