Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Pent Umbrage of the Tempy, Part III

Your employee of the last thirteen years has recently been acting strangely.

Your employee had never before acted strangely. Prior to this, your employee’s behavior and demeanor had been entirely predictable and, come to think of it, “abnormally” unstrange.

Performance had been lackluster, but lackluster on this side of satisfactory, and after so many years, the consistency of the lackluster had shaded into a kind of dependability, reliability, and loyalty. Normally unstrange, not abnormally unstrange, or abnormally strange, or abnormally strange.

You could predict your employee’s behavior, even if your employee’s behavior broke normality. Your employee’s abnormal behavior had always been entirely normal. That predictable abnormality had been one of the many things which made this employee one of the very best employees of THE FIRM.

More than satisfactory. Not a problem. At worst, your employee had engaged in a bit of mumbled grousing, nothing serious. Mumbled grousing is not strange. It is not abnormal. It is perfect. Perfect—there’s no better word for the actions and practices which point out error. Especially the errors of the Other—the one who is nowhere, and nothing.

No one cared to listen, anyway. Whatever this mild complaining added up to, it was more than compensated by your employee’s willingness to accept your lighthearted ribbing, your good-natured bullying, the giving of which you had come to regard as one of the perquisites of your difficult management position, a salve for your own lingering dissatisfaction.

The change was sudden, surprising. It was also disconcerting, disturbing. The newly found energy and enthusiasm, while leading to much better than the typical lackluster performance and production, also disrupted the smooth flow of work so well established at the place of business. While it was true your employee was working later in the day, sometimes into the evening, your employee had taken longer lunch breaks, and repeatedly arrived tardy in the morning—something which had not happened previously. Your employee’s initiative is unwelcome—providing initiative is your job.

Oh, great. After the burst of energy and enthusiasm, your employee announces resignation from the firm. “There’s more to life than this,” your employee says. “I’ve realized I am worth more, capable of more,” your employee crazily adds.

You are concerned your employee’s acts will lead to the agitation of your other dependable employees. Your employee's untypical enthusiasm exuded charisma. What would happen if everyone started to think they were better than they really were? Wouldn’t that be the “too many chiefs and not enough Indians” situation your boss had castigated you with when you’d last asked for a promotion five years ago?

Your employee has left you with a feeling of anger,a muted rage. Didn’t your employee know how good your employee had it? Ah well, if your employee hadn’t, soon your employee will. Without good recommendations, your employee’s last thirteen years of employment experience will mean nothing. As for yourself, you'll be a little more diligent with the lighthearted ribbing and bullying from now on. Maybe if the digs had been deeper, there wouldn't have been this flare up.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Pent Umbrage of the Tempy, Part II

1. Your loony friend has been acting strangely as of late, as if nagged by some incessant dissatisfaction.
2. Inexplicably, your loony friend ceases to act dissatisfied. Suddenly, your loony friend’s mood has shifted from unhappiness to something else, something elated, ecstatic, excited, enthusiastic. The reason for your loony friend's change is simply not clear…What has happened? Has anything happened?
3. Your loony friend tries to explain—is very happy to tell you all about it. But none of what your loony friend says makes sense…This new agitated state is even more unsettling than the previous sadness, and it is even more worrisome. You wonder if your loony friend may be going crazy. Maybe your loony friend was crazy all along--first depresssed, now manic. What your loony friend describes in such nonsensical terms, excitedly as if a great discovery, your common sense tells you is useless.
4. Your loony friend finds your incomprehension a barrier to continuing friendship. Your loony friend’s outburst of elation appears tempered by your unwillingness to buy in...Your incomprehension is a dark cloud on your friend's bright sunny new day. Your loony friend feels a friend would easily understand. You don't understand and therefore you must not be a friend. You don't want to be your loony friend's enemy, but that's the way your loony friend is starting to treat you. You do have to admit it isn't much of a friendship when you don't like or appreciate what your friend now regards as of key importance.
5. It’s impossible to argue with your loony friend about all of this—what would you be arguing about? You don’t even know. Is your friend crazy or stupid? Can you convince your friend to "calm down"? Can you deal with this new eccentric behavior by being tolerant, or would you better serve your loony friend by treating this seriously, by contacting professional help?

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

The Pent Umbrage of the Tempy, Part I

You look around the mailroom.

No one else is here. It is absolutely silent. There isn’t even the faintest whisper of movement. Of air, of water, of earth, of burning. ( How is this place heated, anyway? How is it ventilated? Funny. You've worked here for thirteen years and never asked yourself these questions…You've taken a lot for granted.)

The place is cluttered with all sorts of equipment. Some of it state of the art, some of it defunct, obsolete, antique. Printing presses with moveable type, probably from the eighteenth or nineteenth century. You'd have to be a historian to know for sure. Probably no one in THE FIRM knows how to use it. Why don’t “they” get rid of it?

THE FIRM is closed for the day.

After business hours, there is no reason to linger in the mailroom. There is nothing not related to business which is interesting here. There are no books down here—not even books relating to THE FIRM’S business. Because THE FIRM’S computers shut down automatically precisely at the close of business,you can’t use them to entertain yourself.

You don’t really know why you are lingering down here today. You just have a feeling you are done with the place. You are staying here longer today because you will not stay with THE FIRM very much longer.