What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Lacking consistency. A few weeks ago a kid jumped a fence and made his way into a gorilla enclosure at a zoo. Social media erupted with criticism of the parents who let this happen and the zoo administrators who opted to kill the gorilla. A few days a go a kid waded in to a lake in central Florida and was killed by an alligator. Social media erupted with criticism of Disney for not having put up signs warning about the potential presence of said alligators. There’s barely a mention of the two grown adult humans who reasonably might have been expected to know that alligators are common in Florida, if not knowing that nighttime and shallow water are among their favored feeding conditions. On one hand we have the captive, but “cute and cuddly” mammal and on the other the “scary” looking reptile living in its natural habitat. I’d simply be remiss if I didn’t comment on the complete lack of consistency with which people and the media responded to these two different, but very similar events. As usual, I’m forced to come down on the side of the animals, if only because humans are apparently too oblivious to their surroundings to be allowed to operate anywhere within 500 yards of animals larger than the family cat.

2. Knowing me. Yesterday someone actually opened their mouth and suggested that I might enjoy going to the Firefly music festival being held in Dover this weekend. I really didn’t know how to respond to that. A weekend camping out with nearly 100,000 unbathed concertgoers sounds like the third or forth level of my own personal hell. Honestly. It’s like some people just don’t get me at all.

3. We are a “technology” organization. When the computer, that most basic piece of office technology for the last 20 years, decides not to function there’s precious little I’m able to do that could even be accidentally thought of as productive. There’s only so much time you can spend staring at the ceiling, playing with the paper shredder, and walking loops around the hallway. Without access to email, various websites, and sundry databases there is simply not practical way to do my job through no fault of my own. Since this situation is bound to happen again, it would be helpful if everyone could remember that when my system is eventually placed back in service after a four working day absence, there’s going to be a backlog. I’ll work through it and answer requests for information in as logical an order of importance as I can manage to discern. I will do so as quickly and efficiently as meetings, additional tasks from the bosses, and other office distractors allow. What I will not do, however, is accomplish 4 days worth of work in the six hours of the day still available. I’m happy to take the blame when I’m responsible, but I’m damned well not going to take heat for processes, procedures, and equipment nonavailability that is utterly beyond the scope of my authority to change or even influence.

The office as Disney World…

Most people who spend their days dwelling in the bland colored cubicles of a standard office complex wouldn’t compare their daily experience with a trip to Disney World. As has been pointed out on more than one occasion, though, I’m not most people, so it’s the argument that I’m going to submit for your consideration.

Unfortunately for most cube dwellers, the part of Disney that our life most resembles isn’t the convincing enough facades that line Main Street or the shows that seem to come off effortlessly. That’s all the average visitor to any big theme part sees – just enough of the illusion to keep them interested and to keep them from wanting to look behind the closed doors at the parts of the park that can’t be seen from the designated public spaces. No, our part is the tunnels and back rooms that keep the whole edifice sparkling and magical for our “guests.”

Like Disney, we build boxes of glass and steel, decorate them in as inoffensive a manner as possible, and then fill them with adults who mostly are only there because someone told them it’s the thing to do. Even for those on the inside, most people never see how the real inner workings mesh. They never see and don’t even speculate on what massive asshattery lurks in closed door meetings or in the executive suite. I suspect that most people wouldn’t have the stomach for that kind of truth – better to maintain a happy fiction than an uncomfortable reality.

So that leaves the illusion of a happiest place on earth where morale is always high, everyone always does their best work, everyone ask themselves “is this good for the company,” and no one ever gets eaten by an alligator. I can only speculate that it’s just another of the great lies we tell ourselves to stave off the madness until we can slog our way to retirement age or a Powerball win.