Play Nice They Said

I have been told my entire life that I didn't work well with others, at least in the sense that I don't follow directions or take orders kindly. In fact, my parents placed bets on how many jobs I would lose due to an inability to get along with management. To their bewilderment, I haven't ever been fired. Okay, that might be a slight exaggeration. I was let go once, but only under the pretense that the company didn't have any hours for me, which was a complete lie, but I don't want to drudge up the past because that's not what this post is all about.

Either way, growing up with people constantly telling you that you have a problem with authority should send up some red flags, but nevertheless, it really didn't. I kind of just shrugged it off. I've always thought the problem wasn't me, it was them. That's my flawed thinking. I am one who suffers from an I'm-always-right syndrome. What sucks about this syndrome is no matter how many people tell you that you are indeed wrong, you still don't get it. You will maybe concede that perhaps the transgression wasn't your brightest moment, but you did the best with what you had at that particular time.

So, given that I always think I'm right, I'm starting to think I definitely need to be my own boss. That was something else I was told all my life. "Go to college. You're going to need it because you can only work for yourself." So, now that those young, frivolous college days are over, I've reluctantly entered the corporate world. I use the word "reluctantly" because I've managed to place myself square in the middle of a dead-end job that actually doesn't even require a degree. You could say I sold myself short, really short. Lucky for me though, since I don't mix well with others, I joined a small team of seven. Really five, though, because one person was part time, and the other was never around. So, five people. It shouldn't be that hard to get along with everyone. My department's five has dwindled down to three, including myself. My odds should be going up. Probability would tell me so. The more people you rid from my social and workable field, the better my chances are of not getting fired, right? [Sigh.] It's just not so.

When there were five, I asked stupid questions. I asked questions like why does this certain "task" even need to be designated as such? It would seem to me that everyone could contribute, and there wouldn't be a need for an actual job responsibility for some schmuck. I was the schmuck, but that was only more motivation for my mind to create reasons the job didn't need to exist, especially when the job was relatively, oh what's the word, stupid. I pleaded with the five to see things as I saw them. Most of them agreed everyone should just do their part, all but two that is. I tried begging, reasoning, intimidating, prodding, parenting, and even reverse psychology. I could not convince the group. So, I remained the schmuck (with a four-year degree).

A year later, and things have changed drastically. If you can say nothing good about working with me, the very least you can say is that I always make things better and more efficient. In fact, at every job I've ever held, I think I leave it a better place. Talking two people into changing is much easier than convincing five. [That is a mathematical truth.] But alas, I'm still the schmuck. I learned this all over again yesterday.

When there is a job that no one wants to do, I say make it a group effort. It seems fair to me. In fact, my parents work like that. Who likes to clean windows? No one, but double up the help, and the long-avoided task doesn't seem nearly as bad. After seeing no one take the initiative, I quickly realize this project is going to land on top of me. I'm cringing in my cubicle before people even realize something has to be done. The planning stage is always a group effort. I have noticed that. I'm always one for the planning. Just give me the scope of the project. I will definitely head off the hardships and get you the bottom line. I'm so all about the planning.

So the plan is laid out. It's a bad one, and I can see that right off the bat, but no one likes to hear that their idea sucks. So, I either pretend that it works and go about my own way, or I face confronting them. In this situation, I fake a "Let's see when we get there," knowing I'll end up not only doing it, but also doing it my way. Good speculation on my part.

This next part is strictly for any of you who ever read this blog and should become some sort of manager. Never, ever, ever ask an employee or subordinate to do something within an unspecified or generalized time period when what you really mean is "right now." That is so wrong that I cannot begin to tell how wrong it truly is. Don't say on Tuesday that you'd like the garbage taken out before the weekend, when what you really mean is you want the garbage out by Tuesday evening. I don't know about the rest of the world, but that kind of information definitely affects when I plan on taking out the trash. And another thing, don't cop an attitude with me when you NEVER mentioned time being an issue.

So where am I? Yes, the project, now freshly after the "planning stage." I look around, and low and behold, no one is around to help. That doesn't really shock me. I'm the schmuck, and I shouldn't forget it. Lucky for me, one of the two people I work with is my best friend. Surely, I can goad her into helping me, right? If she refuses, I'll just throw the "I'll be pissed" thing at her. [Intimidation at its best.] Well, she's busy, all the time, and I don't really buy that for a second. I figure that I'll start without her and hopefully, she'll join me later. Later comes and goes. I give up, and decide I'm not touching anything else until SOMEBODY helps me. Okay, the boss steps in making a request. I seize the opportunity to make it a "we/us" thing. When she finally joins me, she is suddenly struck with ways it should have been done. I quickly huff "That’s not an option at this point," which I think she interpreted as my need for control when really, it was a need for "Where the hell were you a month ago?" Well, I get about an hour's worth of help, maybe more. We're about half way through, but it's progress. No telling how long I will have to wait for more help.

Just when I'm thinking of re-mentioning the project, the boss reminds me of it, with one of those quasi-polite requests. An hour later, it becomes a today request. I should have seen through the tone the first time, but I let it slide. Figuring I'll start on the project with my friend noticing & feeling guilty that I'm the only schmuck, I foolishly think I'll get some help or at least an offer soon. Quitting time rolls around quickly, and suddenly, I'm left by myself. Determined to get this damn thing done, I sweat my ass off. I make a stellar performance with all the bells and whistles. I return home exhausted & cranky, but secretly thinking tomorrow there will be a payoff. I'm imaging the astonishment, the thank you's, the "Hooray! It's finally done."

Tomorrow becomes today. I arrive and not so much as a peep. No recognition; No thank you; No, sorry we didn't help; No, how on earth did you finish. All I have to say is you people suck!

And that's how bitter is done.


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