What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Snapchat reality. People are apparently having plastic surgery to make themselves look more like their favorite Snapchat filter. I’m perfectly willing to accept that there are good and valid reasons to have cosmetic surgery… but isn’t the whole point of Snapchat that it lets you look different without someone jabbing pointy objects into your face? Lord knows I’ve got an ego big as all outdoors sometimes, but thank sweet merciful Zeus it’s in absolutely no way dependent on the way I look and doing batshit crazy things to keep up an illusion that I do.

2. Getting handsey. You probably wouldn’t expect this, but I tend to go out of my way to be polite to people. Please, thank you, sir, ma’am, excuse me, are all words that come frequently from my face hole. Being a natural misanthrope isn’t a reason to behave like you’ve never learned any manners. I’ll gladly return courtesy with courtesy. I’ve always followed John Wayne’s basic rules for civilized behavior, of which the Duke said, “I won’t be wronged. I won’t be insulted. I won’t be laid a hand on. I don’t do these things to other people, and I require the same from them.” If, however, someone feels like they need to get handsey with me, I’ll happily drop all pretense of civility.

3. Dogs. No, not really dogs in general. It’s well established fact that I value and love dogs over all other living creatures. The one and only time I find dogs at all annoying is when you’re trying to get away for periods longer than their bladders are able to tolerate. With dogs (or at least the way I insist their care and feeding take place), getting away for anything more than a day trip involves herculean logistical feats which usually reach the level of requiring unjustifiable levels of effort. Yes, I know there are dog sitters and boarding facilities of which normal people might avail themselves. Frankly I can’t think of any more than half a dozen people on the planet who I’d willingly allow full, free, and unfettered access to my home. The number of people I’d trust with the care of the dogs is significantly lower than that. Yes, of course I realize this problem is self-inflicted based on my utter lack of faith in humanity, but that doesn’t make it any less annoying… and it doesn’t mean I’m wrong.

No worse critic…

It has come to my attention that there may be a feeling that I have a tendency towards being too critical of people and things. I’m told “mistakes happen.” They surely do… except that what most people call mistakes I’ve found to usually be caused by failing to plan, not training hard enough, lack of attention to detail, or just generally being sloppy in the way you execute your day to day responsibilities. Negative consequences resulting from any of those things are not so much mistakes or random accidents as they are direct results of some general failure to adequately prepare or perform.

I don’t say that to cast dispersions upon anyone. Legitimate mistakes do happen from time to time. Random chance sees to that. I’m perfectly willing to admit it. If it seems, occasionally, that I’m overly sensitive to such things or that I’m living with unrealistic expectations of others, I can only ask you to rest assured that I also live with those standards for myself. I know instinctively that I will never have a worse critic than the one that lives inside my own head. I feel every honest mistake intensely – and every consequence of personal failing or inadequate preparation like a body blow.

In our daily endeavors it’s a fool’s errand to demand perfection. There’s simply no way to control for all possible inputs. Even knowing that, though, I’ll make no apologies for expecting good order and discipline to prevail. All I can promise you, and I swear this before the gods, is that I will never hold another to a standard higher than to that which I hold myself.

Blurred…

So we’re officially back in the mode of operation where it helps to just turn off the ol’ brain box and try not to dwell too much on any one thing. The first three days of the week have blurred into what feels like one very long day. I don’t see that changing between now and Friday. In fact my forecast is for it to get appreciably worse the closer we get to the weekend – just another in the long line of weekly reminders that Friday is no longer to be trusted as a bringer of good things.

I’ve gotten better than I care to admit at just grinding out the work. I’d like to say it doesn’t get under my skin, but it does. At it’s heart my job is fundamentally about compiling large amounts of information in insanely short amounts of time, facilitating the flow of that information vertically and laterally through the bureaucracy, and and trying to make sure the decision makers have the right information at the right time. Basically, I’m a problem solver who’s expected to either know how to do something or figure it our pretty damned quick.

At nearly every turn this week I’ve run into my mirror image – the ones who say, I don’t know how to do that, or I haven’t had any training, or it’s too hard. Once they proclaim something too hard too do, these bastards look at you blankly, like an infinitely patient and utterly stupid dairy cow waiting for you to offer to do their job for them.

I don’t know how I seem to always find the jobs in every organization that requires miracle working as a principle skill set, but next time I switch offices I’d damned sure like to land in one where it’s ok to walk through the day being only slightly more intelligent and productive than the three week old sandwich slowly molding in the break room fridge.

Third time’s the charm…

So far today I’ve sat down with every intention of blogging three times now. The first two obviously didn’t take. Hopefully the third time’s the charm. I’m not expecting much… and maybe that is, or at least should be the them for the post. Or the week. Or possibly even the month. In reality it’s probably been the theme for a lot longer than that.

The only times in my life I’ve ever really been let down where when I let expectations get the better of me. The best things have always come when I didn’t expect much at all, or more specifically when I was expecting the worst possible outcome. Surely that informs my approach to getting through the day. If you walk in expecting everything to be on its way to hell in a hand basket, often enough it is in fact heading that direction. Other times, though, it’s not and those moments come as a pleasant surprise.

If I can attribute my own warped sense of pessimism to anything, knowing where expectations most often lead is probably somewhere near the root cause. If only from the point of view of keeping my blood pressure more or less in check, the occasional pleasant surprise feels like a better idea than daily consistent disappointments. I seriously don’t know how anyone walks into a day full of optimism knowing that the its ration of shit is never more than a few minutes from hitting the fan. It seems like you’d be setting yourself up for a whole lot of unnecessary disappointment.

Should have known…

I should have known what kind of day it was going to be when I woke up 20 minutes before the 5AM alarm – too early to be awake, even by my standards, but not nearly enough time to make going back to sleep a worthwhile endeavor. I should have known then that it was a sign to pick up the phone, make a call, and burn off a sick day. But instead I pressed on with the morning routine.

The day fired one last warning shot across my bow when I got to the office and was met with a message that someone had sent me what they thought was a very important email and they needed to talk to me about its contents immediately (or when they got in at 8:30, whichever came first). Of course the problem there was they might have sent the email, but as we all know communication only happens when information is transferred between the sender and the receiver. Whatever it was their very important email said, it had been lost in transition from their mailbox to mine. As a rule I try not to comment on documents I haven’t had a chance to read, so the 8:30 phone call was, shall we say, a bit brief. I really, really should have pulled the plug at that point and called it a day.

Instead, in the middle of trying to prepare for a meeting (with the person whose email finally showed up around 9:00), I was then shanghaied into seat filler duty for 75 minutes. That led into a 30 minute pause before the next hour long meeting, which led to 20 minutes of frantic post-meeting emailing, which begat the next 75 minute long meeting. By now it’s 2:30 and that’s when I finally sat down to shove a sandwich and a few handfuls of crackers into my face today. That may be perfectly reasonable for some people, but tends to be a little late when your official day started at 7:30 and you’re legally obligated to leave the premises at 4:00.

I at least got to leave on time this afternoon. As I understand it “on time” was just a few minutes ahead of the last violent shitstorm of the day. I missed getting covered in that one by the skin of my teeth. Unfortunately, now I know what’s sitting there waiting for me when I wander in tomorrow. I was definitely a happier human being before I knew what to expect, but I’ve been at this game long enough that I should have known better than to have any expectations at all.

Expectations. That’s where the day really started skidding off the rails. Yeah, I really should have known better.

Open wide…

Life is full of ironies. When I was a young careerist just starting out you, I barely had two hours of vacation time to rub together. What I did have were almost limitless invitations to go places, do things, and generally raise hell while I was young and stupid. Since I never seemed to have the vacation time, I took a pass on most of those opportunities and hoped against hope that I wouldn’t get sick and need to burn off any of my limited reserve of days off.

Now, after a a decade or so of experience, I’m sitting on a pretty respectable war chest of paid time off. What I seem to be lacking are the invitations to raise hell and be stupid. While that’s probably for the best, there’s something disheartening about taking the vast majority of days off over the course of the year to do things like having bloodwork done and going to the dentist. I’m sure this is not how 25-year-old-Jeff planned to spend his days off when he was 35, but there you have it.

Sure, it’s a four day weekend, but I’ll be spending a big part of the first day with my mouth hanging wide open letting complete strangers poke, prod, drill, and fill. If I can manage not to spend the afternoon drooling all over myself, I’ll consider it a victory.

Just me?

At just shy of the 35 year mark I’m starting to wonder if there’s ever a time when you can sit down in the house where you grew up and not be crammed into the 16-year-old-who-just-got-his-license role. Being pretty well along in life and having done ok in the job and education lottery, it makes for some tense moments and awkward silences. Or maybe it’s just me.