Behind Enemy Lines

Have you ever had a conversation with someone that got a little heated?  Perhaps you said something in the heat of the moment that you thought better of after a bit.  So, you go back to that person and say, “I apologize for my outburst”, or something similar.  What do you do then, if that person says, “What outburst?”  That happened to me yesterday.

It was the moment when I realized that the people I work directly with are absolutely not worth talking to.  There are without doubt some good, smart, interesting people at this location.  But none of them work directly with me.

The guy who runs the crew can’t remember what you said to him 15 minutes ago.  The guy who sits next to him can’t form a cohesive thought.  He stutters, which makes it doubly painful to sit through, because it takes twice as long to conclude that you just lost a part of your life that you’ll never get back.

The team is kind of dynamic, in that people are placed on it and removed from it in a seemingly random manner.  So there are several other people that I interact with to varying degrees.  None of them is generally worth the greenhouse gases it takes to converse with them.

There is no thought, and no point in thinking.  No one is going to challenge anything the “boss” says.  Despite the fact that we have multiple managers, none of them is engaged or involved.  They have no idea where we are or what we’re doing, except in a general sense, on any given day.  But they sit in the basement, passing proclamations down the chain to team leads that know better.  But those leads have resigned themselves to a dead end career, doing the same thing in the same place until the company finally loses the contract.  And there is no way they are going jeopardize their shot at mediocrity by making waves or asking questions.

So… we do things that don’t make sense.  We do things twice.  We send two guys, at different times, to the same place to do the same thing, because no one bothers to close the ticket.  We install machines before the fiber has been run, and so the network team disconnects the machines and moves them out of their way…and then we reinstall them.  We go downstairs for training, with a manager who has never done what he is about to train us on.  When he fails to demonstrate whatever we are there to learn he says, “Oh well, I’m sure you guys will figure it out”.  Really? Really??

Come on.

My problem at the moment is that I am a very vocal person.  So I catch myself talking to someone before I remind myself that I had intended not to speak to them.  I have to work on that.

The only thing speaking does is set you up.  All the petty, small people, sitting around hoping a crumb falls off the table, will turn you in at the drop of a hat.  The perked ears of uninvolved parties 3 rows away, absorb every word.  These words find their way in to emails and reports…and evaluations.  Eventually you are written up for some convoluted bullshit that basically boils down to being a “troublemaker”.  Back in the day that term was used for people who could read, or think.  Or people who asked, “why?”.

The suggestion box remains empty.  Emails are sent out asking for input and feedback.  “Help us improve your workplace!”, the exclaim.  But don’t be the one with a suggestion…  Don’t propose a more efficient way.  Don’t offer criticism, constructive or not.  Just shut your mouth and know your role.

Keep your head down, don’t get noticed.  Stay silent and stay alive.

These are the rules behind enemy lines.

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