Dec 11, 2008

Just Who The Hell Do You Think I Am?

I wanted to ask that today after our first obligatory weekly office meeting since Vulgar Wizard left the hallowed halls of VeryBig Home Health.

I'm not really sure how to begin this. Usually I just leap in and cut and paste until the gestalt is firming nicely and then I just slip the lot into the freezer that is the internet tubes until it sets, but I don't know, it doesn't seem right for this one.

I've been blogging for a couple of years now. I've not spilled my guts about every hangnail and successful masturbation technique here, nor have I put up a rood screen betwixt you and my carefully worshipful operations. I've always tried to do here as I do in real life with anyone that's not family or immediately close to me. That is to say, I give a little, and hold some back. Silly me, I always thought I was pretty see-through in real life, and even here to some extent. My motives are simple, my emotions appear on my face in 48 point Times New Roman bold. Or so I always thought.

I've been going through some changes here in the past months. You recall I saw a therapist for a while there, which helped. I still visit her once in a while (monthly, if not longer in between visits) and she makes small adjustments to the new course we set for myself. I'm trying to communicate more, even if it means I have to face some conflict consequences. I'm starting to say "Yes, I'm mad" if I am, and I'm starting to speak up for myself more. I can even see the outward changes that MY changes are causing, like ripples from the small stones thrown in the water. It's scary, and it's good. I'm growing, plain and simple. It took me a while to do so, but there you are.

So in today's meeting the subject of balance of tasks came up. Who does what in the office, at what time and with what frequency and so forth. The new director asked us both (myself and Sweaty Fat Rolls, my co-worker and supposed equal in the office) to give her an idea, so we did. Now, my boss (let's call her The Bomb, since it's a pun on Business Office Manager (BOM)) and she had already talked about this topic, so it wasn't new to either of them. Thankfully.

Now. Before I go much further, I have to say this: I've felt since SFR arrived in our office that I've done the lion's share of work. I know more, I've been there longer, I'm the person that everyone comes to when they have a problem. I've outlasted four others in that same position. I've seen the company's SOP change a dozen times, and I've watched the corporation grow from 130 agencies to almost 500. I also have a very powerful ownership mentality, so when something needs fixing, I fix it. This leaves me with ZERO free time and I usually stay behind on my tasks because I'm doing so damned many of them, even with putting in the better part of an hour of OT every single day.

SFR is the diametric opposite. She is the only person in that office who can do all her assigned tasks and still have time to take an hour lunch, drive to town every day (on the clock no less) to get lunch for everyone else AND spend a good chunk of her time telling everyone about everything going on in her life. And ignore the phone but use her cellular so often it makes the CEO of Cingular Wireless' 401(k) perk right up.

As a brief aside (I know, this post is nothing but one huge aside) I realised just recently that a big part of my problem with her was stupid, childish envy, plain and simple. I wanted to draw a wage for doing nothing too, just like her. I wanted to slack off and coast along and still be treated like the guy who busts his ass every day, AND be everyone's buddy. I came to my senses last week about that, and it helped a hundredfold. I'm not that sort of person. I've never BEEN that sort of person. That sort of person offends the teetotal SHITE out of me, so why would I emulate it?

That realisation changed my moods, my outlook and my day-to-day interaction with her enormously. Enough that The Bomb noted it to me in a pat on the back sort of way in the meeting.


So. After the discussion of tasks, the director looked at me and said "Can you take on X task also?" I almost fell out of my chair. I'm thankful that The Bomb looked at her and said something along the lines of "It'd be better if SFR continued to do that" because I really didn't know what to say. I was stunned that the Gal In Charge Of The Place didn't see how hard I was working. I mean, it's a small office, it's hard to miss. I. Don't. Stop.

I went back to my office sort of stunned, and sort of angry, and ready to talk to The Bomb in a calm, positive way, which I eventually did. What I heard shocked me.

She told me, quite honestly, that SFR worked fast on tasks that had to be taken care of immediately--organizing nurses and visits, scheduling, and getting and giving information about visit frequencies, and that gave her free time. Which, The Bomb said, she and the Clinical Manager and even the Director took advantage of, by giving her additional tasks. Then she said that I worked slowly. Not to imply criticism, but that I...well, there's no other way to say it. I work slowly. She worked fast and therefore 'earned' that slacker time, and me? I'm slow.

I was floored again.

I've always felt that I do everything fast. Too fast, often, which causes mistakes. It happened that way in the office a lot when VW was The Bomb, and she called me down enough that I finally learned to slow down and do my job right the first time. Something I've taught myself to do in real life. But...slow? In an almost negative fashion? Plodding? What gives?

I'm still in shock, I guess. Still trying to reconcile this version of myself with the version of myself that I hold in my head as "Me." Trying to understand it, trying to make this new paint stick to the old.

So I ask you a favor, my readers. All of you who feel like putting in your two cents worth, and even those of you who don't. Perhaps especially you. Tell me what you think I'm like. From what I've given you here, or from real life experience with me. What image do I present here? In my emails? The old radio show? On the phone or in person? Whatever source you have to draw from. No need for paragraphs or diatribes (unless you feel the need,) just something as simple as three or four adjectives, or an observation. Be free, be open. Don't hold back.

I'm really genuinely curious. Apparently I don't know myself as well as I thought I did.


Nancy Dancehall said...


"I was stunned that the Gal In Charge Of The Place didn't see how hard I was working."

When I read this, I thought, "She does see, that's why she wants to give you yet another task, because she doesn't trust SFR."

You strike me as a craftsman. You take your time with things. You notice the tiniest details. You agonize over the possibility of making a mistake. If you are 'slow', it's only because you care.

Why is 'slow' a bad thing? Ok, it's a bad thing when you're trying to rescue a kitten from a burning building full of snakes and broken glass, but last I checked that wasn't in your job description.

That office sounds emasculating. Buncha hens.

Anyway, that's my two cents and blogpost in a comment box. I'd hire you.

Nancy Dancehall said...

LMAO...'Baby you can drive my car' just came on the radio.

Gordo said...

Careful, methodical. Yep, a craftsman.

The world is speeding by. Getting product out the door as quickly as possible and worrying about problems later, as heinous as that sounds, is a far more common and accepted work standard than it should be.

It sounds like a terrible place to be. You're the guy picking up the slack so the rest can slapdash their way through the day. Ugh.

Shao said...

I have to agree with the craftsman analogy, Pablo. When I read that you worked slowly, it brought to mind quality and attention to detail. Not slugishness.

Ever notice how I finish a bowl of tobacco before you? You bathe in the smoke. Leasure in it. I always wanted to be like you in that respect.

Scott from Oregon said...

You are a guy doing office work. Not to be sexists or nothing, but your mind is slower and deeper than the gals, who I've always marveled at while they flit between stuff which usually includes the perfunctory "talk about me" session...

I've tried helping out in office work before.


Think deisel over leaf blower motor...

Yeah baby. Feel that deep throated humm...

Clowncar said...

Well, methodical and a fine attention to detail have been covered.

And that fine attention to detail bit is what makes your writing so readable. Surreal detail, specifically.

I'd also say you are loathe to offend anyone. A trait I share. And thus occasionally prone to internalize anger. Another trait I share.

And here's an interesting one - I got the sense from your radio show you were very gregarious and out-going. But I think you've said in your blog that you're kinda introverted. So, a case where person and persona differ.

At any rate. Sounds like an unpleasant staff there. Keep your head down, do your work, live your life.

Old bean.

meno said...

Well, really, how would we know?

How about you and SFR switch tasks for two weeks? Someone comes to you and wants _______, refer them to SFR. Someone wants you to fix it, refer them to SFR. They want lunch? You're their man.

Vulgar Wizard said...

As a former employee, the ONLY task she does that he does NOT want to trade off is that damned schedule. It IS a bitch; a fulltime job in itself. I tried to do that once on top of the BOM job. It didn't work out so well for me.

Irr's an old soul; always has been, most likely since he was a young lad. He appreciates labor, has a work ethic, cares about things his actions and words may cause, generally gives a damn. Maybe he takes work too seriously? Maybe it's because his father taught him to work for a living and not expect to receive a paycheck for keeping a seat warm. At any rate, he's the best employee I ever had. I could depend on him; always there, completing tasks like clockwork, steady schedule every day, I always knew what he was up to and when he'd have down time and be able to help if needed. Maybe he's too predictable?

There should be no comparison between him and SFR, but in a "professional" setting, as two people with the same title, there always will be comparison. The problem here lies in separating the individual from the employee. I think what's happening is that Irr's taking the comparison to heart as though the fiber of his being is compared to hers, and deep down he knows he's a better person. Along those lines, the higher-ups are actually comparing work skills or methods, no matter how poorly they are attempting to present the subject matter to their audience.

Speaking as someone once on the inside of this situation prior to SFR's presence, the tasks that Irr performs are EXTREMELY repetitive by nature and require meticulous attention to detail. Maybe tha'ts what "slow" meant; the boy isn't slow, he works fast because he has to but slow enough to try and prevent mistakes. The tasks that SFR performs revolve around a completely dynamic creature known as The Schedule, which changes as often as the minute hand ticks. As flighty and chatty and busybody-like as SFR is, working the schedule is probably a better job fit for ol' girl. If Irr had to jack with the schedule, it would drive him mad. If SFR had to log visits, she'd either pass out from boredom or make several mistakes.

Does any of this make any sense to anyone? Am I drunk?

Schmoopie said...

My brother has always been methodical, careful, honest (choosing his words carefully), and amazingly thorough. I am the polar opposite. I rush to judgement, do my work quickly, things I don't mean to say, fly out of my mouth etc. I have always envied and admired my brother.

From the first post of yours I read, you've reminded me of my brother. So that is the highest compliment coming from me.

I have learned that people who care about their work are more careful and thorough but are rarely recognized for it.

Bottom line you're wonderful. Don't change!

Jean said...

Mucho intelligent in many areas, open-minded, caring, sensitive, detail oriented, focused, a planner, multi-tasker, generous, appreciates life, fantastic sense of humor, more than dependable, craving knowledge of almost everything, multiple talents, creative, peace keeper, integrity, pride in a job well done.

You cannot be like anyone else.
No one else can be like you.
That is not a bad thing.

Irrelephant said...

I'm late returning here to comment, and instead of going bit by bit, I just wanted to tell you all 'thank you.' Immensely. I have moments (like you haven't noticed that) when I lose focus, when I think that things are coming apart at the seams whether they are or not. It's immensely rewarding to know that I'm not, in fact, crazy.

Much love to you all.

Clowncar said...

Let's be clear: I never said you weren't, in fact, crazy.

Jean said...

Nobody said nuthin' 'bout no crayzee!

heh *g*

Gordo said...

Crazy is what keeps people interesting.

I mean, hot air ballooning? Right off the nut-scale. ;-)

Irrelephant said...

You guys are having WAY too much fun down here. Did you all get into my brownies stash?

Gordo said...

Back of the class is where the fun is. :-)

I should probably qualify my comment by stating that I know nutbars when I see them. I keep bees. LOL

meno said...

VW's defense of you makes me misty-eyed. Sweet.