Tuesday, June 5, 2007

This Post, It Could Be Better

Tonight, as I delivered unto the Golden One his nightly bottle of milk (he's too young to appreciate the fact that he's too old for a bottle of milk at bed-time), he yanked it roughly out of my hand, bonking Wife on the chest with it. Quick to instruct Son in proper manners (I can hear you laughing from here), words were spoken:

Wife: ouch!
Self (sternly): Son, say sorry to Mommy!
Son (bottle in mouth): Thorry Mommy.
Self: And say thank-you to Daddy (you know, for the milk).
Son: Thank-oo, Daddy.
Self (getting the hang of this): And say "I love you" to Mommy.
Son: I love you, mommy.
Self (trying not to giggle): And say "I love you, Daddy".
Son: ...
Self: ... Okay. Well, g'night then, sweetie (*kiss*).

The hypocrisy of me attempting to teach Son proper manners and etiquette is, I'm sure, not lost on any who know me. For those who don't, allow me to elucidate by way of an anecdote:

Today at Company marks a momentous occasion (at least for me, and really, who else is there?). Project (an amazing bit of software that I believe will be used to torture heretics during the next Inquisition) has finally gone to QA for testing, freeing me up for further abuse from the project driver and chief stakeholder, Meathead.

Everyone has a Meathead at their work. The upper-middle manager who doesn't return emails, brushes off your concerns about outstanding requirements issues by saying "don't worry about it", then points the finger at you when the project fails. He or she has unrealistic expectations that are not expressed in the project requirements, interrupts or talks over you in meetings, misunderstands most of the project and therefore misrepresents it to upper management, and basically has the attention span of a hummingbird.

Meathead is not actually evil, just difficult to work with sometimes. He considers himself a political animal, and concentrates on what he thinks is important at any one time (like most of us), to the detriment of what is actually important. So this entire project has been an exercise in "Cover Your Ass". Everything is documented, Boss is CC'ed on every email to Meathead, responsibility for delays due to unapproved changes is unambiguously laid at his feet. It's fucking exhausting.

Seriously, any time spent in a room with this guy takes about five layers of enamel off my teeth from the grinding.

Patience is the only thing for which I set myself a limit. This, coupled with the need to express myself within the constraint of Meathead's ten-second attention span, can sometimes result in some hastily-chosen words. Words that could be jeopardizing career-advancement opportunities. Often (okay, not often, but you know) after a meeting, I'll think back and wonder: was I more of a dick than was strictly necessary, given the circumstances?

Viz: I was about three tooth-layers into a meeting yesterday, with Meathead, The Directrix, and Boss Sr, to go over Meathead's requirements documentation for an upcoming project. After much semi-heated debate over the questionable sense of some of his needs, I arrived at a section of my notes where I had given up on intelligent comment, and instead scrawled WTF in orange hi-lighter.

Self: Yeah, I don't think I understood this part correctly.
Meathead (playing with BlackBerry): What do you mean? I think it's pretty clear.
Self: I mean, I don't know what language this was written in, but it isn't English.

Now, taken out of context, that little exchange has me coming off as a bit of a dick. To be fair, this document was a joint effort between Meathead and The Directrix (a capital whip-wielder and efficient task master fully deserving of further commentary, and don't worry, I'll get to her). Directrix and Meathead have both worked with me for a while and know what to expect, so they weren't, you know, insulted or anything. Still, after the fact, I couldn't help but wonder if that could have gone better.

In the near future (as soon as tomorrow, in fact), IronMan, a.k.a. Boss Jr, will be getting involved. Boss Jr, or "BJ" for short (snigger), is a genius at dealing with Meathead, as well as The Directrix (not to mention Boss Sr, Mr Clean, Laurel and Hardy, and The Cossacks), without snapping like a wishbone. Should prove diverting.

"Could that have gone better?" is a question that crosses my mind fairly frequently, usually with it's head down and collar up, trying not to make eye contact. Generally, one already knows the answer before ever posing the question (in case you're wondering, it's yes). And this doesn't just happen at work:

Self: C'mon, Son, time to get ready for bed.
Son: I want my Spider-man shirt!
Self: That shirt's dirty, we'll wash it tonight, and you can wear it tomorrow
Son: I. Want. My. Spider. Man. Shirt.
Self: It's just for one night. Look, you're already wearing your spider-man underwear, spider-man socks, spider-man sandals, spider-man shorts, and spider-man baseball cap, and you're going to sleep on spider-man sheets with a giant stuffed spider-man while listening to the London cast of "Spider-man, The Musical". Can we just wear this other shirt for tonight?
Son: I WANT MY SPIDER-MAN SHIRT!!!!!

So of course I cave. I mean, really, who has the time? But after fifteen minutes of arguing, tantrums, and hi-pitched screaming, loud enough to break every window in the house, I inevitably find myself swabbing the blood from my ruptured eardrums and asking "Could that have gone better?"

Now, I'm no expert (natch), but the frequency with which I find myself confronted by this type of post hoc second-guessing may speak to Psychological Issues.

Idea!: One of the goals of our Ongoing Game will be to express the nature of said Issues without exacerbating them. Good luck with that.

In other news, HaikuBoxer has found my muddy little hole in the internet. Time to pull up stakes, board up the blog, and move to Panama under an assumed name. Revisionist history has struck. Boxer thought the picture I had of her on the site, all sweaty and sporty looking after running a triathlon, was "icky", so I swapped it out.

This is one thing the electronic medium has over traditional forms. You can go back in time and erase, redact, tweak, and just make like it never happened. In fact, I just erased something off this very blog. Can you tell what it was? Maybe I was talking about you.

Non-Sequitur: About that money I owe you. Do you take sex?

2 uninformed opinions:

Leila said...

i just came by for a coffee but i won't stay. promise.

Phil said...

We've only got decaf. but it's served in very attractive mugs...