As I’ve said countless times before, I’m not a decision maker.
I can present information. I can counsel. I can advise. In more dire moments I can even warn.
What I am not empowered by policy, regulation, or law to do, however, is make any actual decisions.
After almost 18 years in harness, I feel strongly the right and a duty to express my views on matters of interest. I’ve reached the period of my working life where there’s not much particularly new under the sun. I may not have seen it all before, but laying eyes on a truly unique situation is becoming an increasingly rare event.
Someday, perhaps, there will be those on Olympus who look down upon my pleas and decide that fiddling about for four months before paying any attention may not be the best idea. It turns out, as usual, that today isn’t that day.
Anyway, it turns out I’m almost exactly like the Queen. I can tell the great and the good that they’re about to do something dumb, but there’s not a thing in this great wide world I can really do to stop it happening.
1. Appointments. Look, I’m the customer. I’m calling your business for an appointment. When I tell you that I don’t want an appointment after 4:00 the next three times you try to give me should not be after 4:00. When I tell you Thursdays are not a good day for me, how about not offering up times on Thursday. I’m trying to give you a not insignificant amount of money to provide a service. The least you could reasonably be expected to do is make the transaction slightly less onerous.
2. Being a square peg fitted into a round hole. There are many subject matter experts in my building. I’m not one of them. My skills don’t lie in my technical expertise. They do, however, lie in making sure the people with the right skill sets all show up to the same place in the often vain hope that something might get accomplished by the time it’s over. I’m a facilitator. When Person A has a problem, I make the appropriate introduction to Person B and then stand back and let the magic happen. I know just enough about the details for my opinions on them to be wrong at least as often as they’re right. That’s why I don’t sell myself as the resident expert… so when you try to cram me into that role because I happen to be available in the moment, don’t be surprised when things don’t go exactly how you planned.
3. Acceptance. I’m an Anglophile from way back. If it weren’t for their ridiculously high taxation and periodic dalliances with socialism, I’d strongly consider England a strong contender as a place I wouldn’t mind ending up in retirement. I follow a number of official UK government social media feeds which have been filled in the recent days with pictures of Her Majesty The Queen and assorted members of the Royal Family distributing knighthoods. I’m starting to come to the grim acceptance that the clock may be running out on my chance to ever make it onto the Honours List.
I’m not a decider. At one time, when I was young and ambitious, I thought that’s what I wanted. It was the career goal I chased for a while. In my analysis of the game, though, the return on investment just didn’t make it worth the effort. What can I say, I like it when my phone doesn’t ring at 7PM on a Friday because someone, somewhere did something stupid.
The problems start when someone at echelons higher than reality decides that because they have my phone number, I should be empowered to speak on behalf of the entire organization. While it’s flattering for someone to think I have that kind of power and influence, a quick reality check will show that my parameters wherein independent thought is authorized are fairly limited. More importantly, I respect those boundaries – largely because by keeping myself between them I can generally avoid having my ass handed to me. Once on the other side of them, however, it’s only a few slippery steps to getting yourself pummeled.
I’m happy to take you call. I’ll do my best to explain the official position of the organization. If you disagree I’m more than pleased to pass your concern on upwards through the chain of command. Eventually it will arrive in the office of someone who is empowered to make a decision. I’m not saying they will and if they do I’m in no way guaranteeing that it will be the decision you wanted. It’s important to note, however that I’m not now nor will I ever be that person… and I’m more than ok with that.
I was once a golden boy like you
And I was summoned to the halls of power in the heavenly courts
And I dined with the deities who looked upon me with favor,
For my talents, my creativity…
– Don Henley, The Garden of Allah
Oh my, but the times they have changed. That’s it for tonight.