What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Lack of attention to detail. Someone on post is advertising a very nice, newly renovated town house for rent at $1700 a month in the Bel Air school district. It looks like a lovely place to live. The only problem is whoever is trying to rent it out has fat fingered my office phone number onto their flyers and I’m now fielding more calls about real estate than I am actual things related to my job. If I were trying to get $1700 a month for something you can be damned skippy that I’d make sure I had the right number… as it is, now I have to tell a lot of disappointed people that the place has already been rented. After enough of those, I’m assuming someone will start wondering why they still don’t have a tenant.

2. Policy matters. I read an article this week that urged voters to remember that the 2020 election is a referendum on President Trump and reminding them that “policies don’t matter” as long as someone else wins. I think it strikes exactly the wrong tone. See, I’m not some kind of moralistic crusader from the right wing. I don’t care if you’re on your third wife and like screwing porn stars. I do care if you support a strong national defense, preserving the Second Amendment, and enforcing law and order on the border. I care if you want to explode income tax rates upwards to pay for a grab bag of “free stuff” promises. Implementing policy and enforcing the law are precisely why we elect a chief executive in this country. Pretending that policy doesn’t matter because you’re desperate to unseat someone who says mean things doesn’t pass my common sense test. Want to win my vote? Start talking about policies I can get behind. It really is that simple.

3. Waking up. I’m mostly over the crud that victimized me for the last three weeks. Everything is back to near normal… except the very tail end of my sleep schedule. Instead of the usual and customary 5AM, my internal clock is now waking me pretty consistently between 4:15 and 4:30. Another few days of it and it may just be easier to start going to be earlier and living with it as the new normal.

Hard versus stupid…

I don’t mind working hard. The powers that be are paying good money to rent my brain for 8 hours a day and I’ve got no compunction about whoring myself out like that. When push comes to shove I’d much rather be doing hard work with my brain than hard work with my back. The brain seems less likely to give out at an inopportune time and leave me lying flat on the floor or chewing muscle relaxers like candy corn.

Although I don’t mind working hard, I hate the living hell out of working stupid. I hate reworking the same ground two or three times and changing every happy to a glad. That’s not hard work. That’s not focusing on content or intent. That’s focusing on the style over the substance and the fact that anyone has time for that in this business should tell you a lot about how their time is being spent. I don’t mind if they want to waste their time turning the latest memo into the great American novel, but I’d appreciate it if they didn’t try dragging me along into their own personal hell. I’ve got worries enough of my own without keeping track of who likes one space after a period and who likes two.

The things we choose to focus on tells a lot about the kind of person we are when we shed the artificial constructs of rank or grade. It tells me everything I need to know about who “gets it” and who is way the hell out in the tall grass. Other people might not notice details like that, but I do. The Lord might tell us not to judge, but I think in this case He would make an exception.

Wellington…

I’ve been reading alot about the 1st Duke of Wellington this weekend. Say what you want about the duke, but the guy lived a life. From colonial Ireland to the wars in India, Portugal, Spain, and France to post-Napoleonic politics, he kept himself busy. Now I’m a busy guy too, but somehow I don’t think Arthur was much worried about keeping the lawn trimmed back home or making sure dinner was on the table by 5PM on the dot. It seems the problem with reading biographies is that every now and then they remind you of all the incredible stuff you’re not out there doing yourself. Then again, the Iron Duke seemed to be a bit preoccupied with exactly those kind of details, so maybe I’m just getting too much sleep.

Getting good…

After giving a quick read to this Sunday’s Archive posts, I have to admit that I think they’re starting to get rather good. We’re up to September 2006, which is my first introduction to Memphis and the beginning of running myself ragged along the I-40 and I-81 corridors beating a path between work in West Tennessee and the apartment I was still hanging onto in central Maryland. Honestly, I expected this part of the story to be more angsty, but on reflection this was still part of the good times, well before the situation there became untenable for so many of us. Most people look back on things in their past through the filter of their own memory and rely on it to pull together the salient details. Conveniently, I have my own written record of most of my adult life, jotted down more or less as the events happened, to keep my memory in check. It’s been nice remembering that there was a time down there before circumstances and a few individuals conspired to suck all the joy out of life.

Enjoy this week’s blast from the past, late September 2006.

Mr. Clean…

I think it’s great that we have a contractor that handles the building’s janitorial services – cleaning restrooms, emptying trash, buffing the hallways. But I don’t understand why all of those things need to happen during normal business hours. Ever tried having a phone conversation when 2 industrial strength vacuum cleaners were running in your 40×40 foot section of cubicle farm? I don’t recommend it.

And while I’m on the topic of office cleanliness I’d happily trade one round of vacuuming a week for the occasional pass of a swiffer over the top of the cubicle walls. As a small test, I’ve had my name written in the dust on top of a file cabinet since Christmas. Seriously. I occasionally have to go back and go over it again it so the new dust doesn’t fill it in. I understand that it’s an office and not an operating room, but some attention to the little things would go a long way.

Editorial Note: This is part of a continuing series of previously unattributed posts appearing on http://www.jeffreytharp.com for the first time. This post has been time stamped to correspond to its original publication date.