Courage, Hypocrisy, & Focus – Oh My!

Something has been bothering me since I posted my last message. Two things, actually.

First, I am aware of the hypocrisy of my advice to my coworker. I told her that the courageous thing to do would be to be honest with her friend. But I am not completely honest with her daily.

In this rare case, I am a hypocrite by choice. (Usually the hypocrisy is purely accidental.) I would like to be honest with her and have been tempted several times to tell her what is on my mind.

However, I am pretty sure her reaction would not be positive. And we have to work together so I’ve held back. Rather than courageously telling her the truth, I make the choice to keep the environment friendly, and, thus, become a hypocrite.

The second thing is the one that is really eating away at me.  The more I think about the negativity I’ve expressed about this coworker, the more I realize that I’m focusing on the bad things. Granted, it’s not hard to do that as she offers many undesirable characteristics to focus on. This, however, is not the person I want to be.

I mean what if everyone in the world only focused on the negative characteristics of the people around them? What a terrible place this world would be!

And I would hate to think that anyone saw only my less than desirable traits.

I need to focus on the positive qualities she has. I don’t believe that this will make her negative qualities disappear but perhaps there will be more of a balance.

And I don’t need to limit it to just her. I need to make more of an effort to focus on the positive qualities everyone has to offer.

That would be a change I would like to see in the world.

Courage

So I have this co-worker. She drives me nuts but she does have some good qualities. I’m resisting the urge to just unload about all of the things I cannot stand about her because this message isn’t actually about her. She just happened to utter some words that made me think.

This co-worker loves to come in to my office, sit down, and tell me all about her love life. Please note that I have not once asked her about any of it. She says that she loves how she can trust that I will always be honest with her, even if the truth isn’t something she wants to hear.

So she tells me all about this guy she has known for quite some time. She said he is her booty call and has been for a while. She said that she enjoys that there are no strings attached and it’s not complicated at all. She mentioned that the last time they were together, though, it was different. She said that he wanted to talk and even asked her to stay.

She was clearly uncomfortable. She did not want a “relationship” with him. She said she didn’t know what to do. And she wanted my opinion. So I gave it.

“Well, you could talk with him about it; let him know where you stand,” I advised.

“I’ll probably just not call him back and not return his texts,” she replied.

“Well, that’s not very courageous,” I said.

“We’re not all trying to be courageous, Melissa.”

It was her last statement that has stuck with me.

Why not?

Why aren’t we all trying to be courageous?

What’s wrong with being courageous? Is it too hard? Maybe we just don’t know what it means.

So I decided to look up the definition of courage. As I looked through the various sources, I realized that there is not one definition of courage but many. They all have the same general concept: a quality or state of mind or spirit that enables one to stand in the face of danger. Some say “without fear” or “without showing fear” but I disagree with that. Without fear, it’s not really courage at all. It’s just action.

The definition I like the most was from the Macmillan Dictionary (www.macmillandictionary.com)

Courage – noun – the ability to do something that you know is right or good, even though it is dangerous, frightening, or very difficult.

I think without that element of “right or good” you just have daring and not really courage.  But I digress.

“We’re not all trying to be courageous, Melissa.”

Well, I am.

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

Ever since I first read those words, I have tried to incorporate it into my life. And I would like to see more courage in our world. And I would like to see more kindness. And I would like to see more compassion.  And I would like to see more honesty.

And I would like to see less of that co-worker…if I’m being honest…

The flimsy door

“By choosing healthy over skinny you are choosing self-love over self-judgment. You are beautiful!”
~ Steve Maraboli

I saw this on Pinterest and, while I understand and appreciate the purpose of the article, I am disgusted by the photograph chosen to represent the “problem area.” If that represents fat in our society, then God help us all. Please stop contributing to the all too common body dysmorphia in our society. Glamorize health, not weight.

“Weight loss is not the key to your dreams. The truth is there is no lock and the door is flimsy.”
~ Golda Poretsky

You know you’re a nerd when…

Ok, so there is this McDonald’s on Abrams Rd between Forest Ln and the eastbound entrance ramp to 635. This McDonald’s has a particularly poor layout. There are two entrances in to the parking lot, one on the right side of the building and one on the left side. While people who are driving in the lane closest to the McDonald’s can go in either entrance, people on the other side of the road can only go in the entrance on the right side (if you’re in the McDonald’s looking out) of the building. So in order for people entering from the opposite side of the road to go through the drive through, they have to drive in this little driveway that goes in front of the building (the drive through starts on the left side of the building and wraps around to the right). And the people leaving the drive through are exiting in the same place that people from the opposite side of the road are entering.

So there’s the set up for the following scene.

On occasion, I get a craving for a McDonald’s breakfast. It’s not often but on occasion. Well, Monday happened to be such an occasion. I apparently was not the only person having such a craving as there was a line to the drive through. It wrapped around and there were cars lined up in that little driveway in front of the building. I was on the opposite side of the road so I waited to make my left turn in to the entrance until I knew my car could get far enough in that it wasn’t sticking out and obstructing anyone’s way. I was about the third car back in the little driveway. Patiently I waited my turn until I was the first car in the driveway about to turn left to remain in line.

That’s when she did it.

This woman in a nice, newish Mercedes Benz makes a right turn from the street and darts directly behind the car in front of me and blocks me from exiting the little driveway.

The optimist in me thought, “Oh, maybe she didn’t see me here.” So gave the informative tap on the horn – the “hey, I’m here” honk. And she ignored me. I know she was ignoring me because people who aren’t purposefully trying not to look when someone’s honking, turn their heads in the direction that the noise is coming from. The only people that don’t look are the people who KNOW the honking is meant for them because they KNOW they did something wrong but don’t care to acknowledge it.

And here is where I became someone I don’t know. I became (to quote one of my favorite movies) an “anger ball.” Usually, I’d blow it off and try to find my peace while allowing that person to do what they felt they needed to do. And I don’t know why I became so enraged – my only theory is that I am the victim of injustice so many times in every day at my work place that I had had enough. That’s just a theory and totally irrelevant.

I laid on the horn, becoming even more upset as she continued to make the effort to ignore me. I visualized getting out of my car and banging on her window and not giving her the choice of ignoring me. Ramming the side of her pretty little Mercedes with my humble Honda was a thought that pleased me.

I, of course, did not choose to do any of these things, as tempted as I was. I have two rules of anger that are uncompromising. 1) You cannot hurt others – people, animals, etc. 2) You cannot hurt yourself – not just in the traditional thinking but things like getting arrested for assault, yeah, that’ll hurt you. Damaging my only form of transportation would be another example of hurting myself. Anyway, so the things I was imagining doing were never even considered possibilities.

I did try to make her ordering difficult when she got up to the little box. I could see her mouth start to move in the reflection from her side view mirror and when she did, I laid on the horn again, repeatedly. I was hoping that they wouldn’t be able to take her order. I was wrong. She drove up to the window.

My turn to order so I did in a remarkably calm, sweet voice. I drove past the box and saw her window still open. So I did something I never do.

I yelled at her from my car, with my window down knowing her window was down.

I titled this “You know you’re a nerd when…” and I’d like to clarify that my realization of said nerdiness was not from this sudden outburst. This eruption suggests something closer to being unbalanced than of nerdiness. No, the nerdiness is from the insult I chose to yell.

“YOU’RE RUDE AND ENTITLED!!!”

Note: I’m not sure if entitled means the same to therapists as it does to people who aren’t therapists. When a therapist uses the term “entitled” they are basically saying that one has an unmerited sense of entitlement, a feeling that they can do what they want because the world owes them. But rather than saying all that, we just say entitled. And while I was as pretty far from being a therapist as I could be at that moment, apparently a little snuck in through my choice of affront.

I’d love to tell you that after I yelled at her, I suddenly felt better and all my bitterness left but sadly that is not so. I was still upset. I was glad that I hadn’t done anything more severe than yell at someone. Imagine if I had done more, had some nasty repercussions, and then still not feel any more relieved.

It did make me aware of this anger ball in me that I should probably confront sooner rather than later.

And if nothing else, it reiterated my belief that there is no pay off in spending that much energy on negativity.

A Small Victory

I had a little moment today.

A little background.

At work, we have a client who requests that we upload our submissions to their website. There are different places to upload these documents and it is solely my responsibility at our company to upload the submissions to this website.

Well, after running a few reports it was brought to my attention that I had incorrectly uploaded 3 documents to the wrong (project) site. For instance, I had uploaded the Lease Exhibit for site FL-MIA1010 to the place where documents for CO-DEN1010 are supposed to go. Quick aside here – I think that the 3 errors is a pretty small number compared to the nearly 1,000 documents that I have uploaded correctly. But still these 3 errors needed to be rectified.

A downfall of this website is that once a document is uploaded, the document cannot be deleted except by the support team of the website. I have no ability to delete the documents. I know this because several months ago, I sent them an email asking how to delete any documents and they said, “Send us an email with blah, blah information and we’ll take care of it for you.”

So that is what I did.

The first response I received was one saying that the issue had been marked as resolved and the ticket closed. The next response gave some very elementary instructions on how to delete the files and an alternative (overwriting the document – basically replacing what I had uploaded with another document).

Hmm…if the first instructions were going to work, why would they give me an alternative? And I had, in the past, tried the solution suggested with no success. But I push those thoughts aside. I rationalize that there had been upgrades to the site since my last attempts at deleting files so perhaps this was an issue addressed in those upgrades. And I had not actually tried to delete them myself this time and had just automatically emailed support. So I gave it a shot.

No success.

And the alternative offered was of no help to me as we did not have documents to replace what had been uploaded. In fact, those sites belonged to other contractors entirely. Anyway, not helpful and irrelevant to the request I had made to the support team. So this was my response email:

“I’m sorry but none of your suggestions have resolved the issue. I was following the instructions I received per the attached email.
Please remove the documents.”

I attached the original email from their very own support team telling me to contact them to delete the files.

Apparently, this irritated the support guy. I know this because he called me and sounded quite irritated.

Another side note here: I recognize that most IT professionals believe that people are idiots. I know this because I was (briefly) married to an IT professional and from the stories conveyed to me, it did in fact seem that most people are idiots. I, however, am NOT an idiot.

Now, I did convey to him – let’s call him Bob – I did demonstrate to Bob my knowledge of the website. I wont go in to too much detail (hey what a first) but lets just say that Bob’s tone changed a bit when he realized that I was not a first time uploader. So Bob tries to walk me through his original suggestion. Having done all this before, I’m tempted not to reenact this failure but I do to humor him. So when we reach the end and the satisfaction becomes clear in his voice, I mention to him the dialog box that has popped up with the error. I read the error to him.

“Oh,” he says. “You got an error on your end, huh?”

Um, yeah.

Then he launches in to the fact that I could replace the documents blah, blah, blah. I attempt to calmly explain why that alternative isn’t really an option but am becoming more and more irritated that he wont just delete the damn files.

I wonder if he thinks I’m trying to delete someone else’s work. Maybe that’s why he’s hesitant. So I let him know that it was ME who uploaded those documents and I have uploaded them to the correct sites so now want to delete my mistake. I even try to score some sympathy by adding that my boss is on my ass to get these three errors cleaned up (which is not a lie).

Then he says it.

“We don’t like to delete files here on the support end.”

“I know, Bob, but I CANT delete the files and have an email from your department telling me that the way for me to do it is to contact you to do it.”

“Well, yes, but we like to keep the files pristine.”

Ok. Now I’m past irritated. He has wasted enough of my time. So I reply in my calmest, most rational voice,

“There are documents for a site in Florida uploaded to a site in Denver, Bob. That is hardly pristine. Wouldn’t you agree?”

Finally, he concedes. He deletes the documents. He is very short but not rude as he asks me if I am pleased with the result. I confirm that I am.

And I am pleased.

And I am not an idiot.

It’s just nice to have a small victory every now and then.

I’m just saying…

Scambait

I went to the gas station tonight. Barkley came with me since it was a short trip and he LOVES riding in the car. He does the typical doggy with the head out the window thing. And I love that. But I digress.

I get out of the car and start pumping the gas.  A car pulls up next to my car and the driver starts talking to me.

“Excuse me, Miss. We’re on our way to the hospital. My friend here’s wife was in an accident. We’re just trying to get to 75 and 15th so he can see her.” Meanwhile, he is pointing to a spiral notebook that he has in his hands. He even glances at it when he is telling me the address of the hospital, clearly indicating that he isn’t used to heading out that way.

“If you could help us out, I just need some gas to get my friend to see his wife.”

This is what I said, “Oh, I’m sorry. I don’t have any cash to give you. Good luck, though, sweetie.”

This is what, after thinking about it for a minute, I wish I had said, “Gee, your friend’s wife has some terrible luck. Just last month when you approached me in the Wal-mart parking lot, you told me that she had been in an accident and that you needed gas then too to get your friend out to the hospital down 75 at 15th. Hope your friend has some good insurance.”

I am a nice person. I like to help people out.  I am not, however, a stupid person.

Email Exchange

Here is what I’m writing about:

Below is an email exchange between me and my boss. The background is this: a client wanted a status update on some sites that we’re doing for them. The person who is in charge of those sites was on a plane and couldn’t be contacted for another hour.

Rather than send an email telling the client that the person in charge would be able to update them as soon as he exited the plane and then let that guy handle it, my boss opted to have me look up all of the information on an outdated tracker, compare it to the information on the server, cross reference that to the information uploaded to the client’s website, etc etc etc.

Basically a lot more work that has a lot of potential for errors because I don’t have all of the information needed to respond to the request.

I’d like to reiterate here that our guy on the plane had in his possession one document that had all of the information requested on it. I could totally go off on a tangent about my boss’s reactionary responses that (a) create much more work than necessary, (b) create potential for error because he doesn’t give all of the information and then rushes you – well, me – to do the work, and (c) ensure that he has “control” of what is going on. But that would pull me away from the point at hand.

So he made a table and told me to put the data in the table. I had done what he asked. The emails below are when he changed his mind about what he wanted in the table.

From: R*
Sent: Thursday, October 15, 2009 4:10 PM
To: R*; Melissa Welsh
Cc: PMFL
Subject: RE: A&E Status

Change the dates for site walk dates to say “Site walked”. Remove the dates. That way we don’t look too back since our dates of submittals of PCDs/PZDs are so late!

R*

From: Melissa Welsh
Sent: Thursday, October 15, 2009 4:13 PM
To: R*
Cc: PMFL
Subject: RE: A&E Status

Ok. What do you want me to do with the ones that I’m not sure if they’ve been walked yet?

And, actually, the turn around looks pretty impressive to me.

Melissa Welsh

From: R*
Sent: Thursday, October 15, 2009 4:15 PM
To: Melissa Welsh
Cc: PMFL
Subject: RE: A&E Status

I don’t think you have been in the business long enough to decide if the turn around is impressive or not. Leave that to us.

You can get on the phone with Manny or Juan and see any of the ones you list as not walked yet, have been walked or not.

Thanks,

R*

Now, I underlined those two sentences because they are basically what I’m reacting to here.

What bothers me about this exchange:

There are so many alternate ways of saying what he was saying without belittling, mocking, or being disrespectful.

Yes, it is true that I have not been in this field very long at all. It is not my field of expertise. And, yes, my idea of impressive turn around could be totally off base with the industry standard.

Perhaps I shouldn’t have said anything about the turn around at all. I probably wont ever again. Because, clearly, my opinions are not welcomed. But explaining that I am becoming withdrawn, reserved, and submissive because of one man’s insolent behavior was not my purpose here either.

I’m writing about it because things that happen or things that are said or experienced or thought or whatever tend to swirl around in my head until I spit them out somewhere. They tend to pick up speed the longer I go without spitting them out so what begins as a breeze becomes a tornado before too long. This occurrence is merely at the “Tornado Warning” stage. And I am hoping to sleep well tonight so I’m spitting.

What I’d like to say about this exchange:

What I’d like to say to my boss: You arrogant, condescending prick. Do you really think this motivates me to want to do better, to make your company flourish? When Karma comes for you, you may as well just bend over because it sure the hell isn’t going to be shaking your hand.

If my boss ever thought that he could use an experience to grow (but since he thinks he is a superior being and I’m merely a woman, I realize that it is unlikely), I offer these alternate ways that he could have expressed the same general concept of the underlined passage.

The average turn around on these projects is [insert time frame] and the ideal turnaround is [insert time frame] so these are a little behind schedule.

It might seem that way but we really want to shoot for a turn around of [insert time frame].

You’re new to the engineering industry. A good turnaround is [insert time frame here].

I’d probably think that too if I was just starting out in this industry but ideally…(you get the idea)

Or even a less “fluffy” response:

Our contract with this company says the turn around is [insert time frame here] so we’re not fulfilling our obligations at the rate we’re going.

I want to note that I’m not one of those feminists who screams sexism at everything. I abhor those feminists. And by reading the underlined passage you’d probably think he was telling me to leave it to the engineers or people who have been in the industry longer than I have. I’d think that too, if I didn’t know the man. By us he means “the men.”

Again I want to say that I’m not hypersensitive to sex discrimination. I think most of it is bull. But there’s one case out of every whopping basketful that really exists. But I’m digressing from my intent here. I was trying to give him an opportunity to grow, not point out his copious flaws.

Thank you for letting me spit up on you. I feel better now.

And I’m tired. I think I will go to bed so that I can be well rested when I have to face the same crap again tomorrow.

And I’m sorry for complaining about work lately. It’s not my style and I don’t like who I’m becoming because of it.

I am thankful that I have a job. I am thankful for so many things in my life. Perhaps that will be my next blog.

Crap, now that thought is going to start swirling.

Good night.