May 15, 2009

Concentratus Interruptus

One of the things that's been true about the work world as I've experienced it is that concentration is not something highly valued, if at all. Not by ourselves and not by our bosses. It’s broken more often the $10 Rolex I bought on 34th & 5th Ave last summer.

It is what it is, and I notice the tendency in myself. When I’m walking out and about, those in their cubicles seem quaint with their furrowed brows and low centers of gravity. They can’t possibly be doing anything important. Easy marks. You almost want to interrupt them. At the very least you want to give a shout out to your psuedo-homies.

But when you’re actually trying to do something it’s sort of annoying, be it work-related or not. Especially when you realize the interruption is so unimportant that it simply must be a masked cry for help from the bored or socially deprived. Then you feel bad for your abruptness. Because you can't hide body language.

An example occurred recently when two strangers who work for a company acquired by ours were laid off. Apparently our bosses were involved in this, and no doubt it was a tough decision for them even if it was about five years overdue in strictly business terms given the redundancies. Surely there was a “writing on the wall” aspect to it for those unfortunate fellows.

My boss came over to tell me about it yesterday and it meant about as much to me as Pelosi’s flap with the CIA. It was interesting for about the first two to five seconds.

Then today we get an email from a higher-up expressing regret that these two-folks-whom-I-don’t-know-from-Adam were let go. But here’s the kicker: my boss comes over again and and asks if I have any questions about the note sent out. I thought it had to be a trick question. Did he forget we talked about it yesterday?

Let's recap: two strangers working three hundred miles away are let go and it results in no less than three communications. These are the times that I feel like I live in an alternative universe, as if I'm missing some fantabulous "caring gene" that my boss carries but I lack. I overheard him asking the same question of a co-worker who (soothingly to my ear) also said "no".

In the words of Yogi Berra "you can't make it up". (If Yogi didn't say it he should have.) And, of course, I recognize the inanity of being irritated about a thing so minor as to defy description.


Gregg the obscure said...

I think the brass were following advice that doesn't make sense in your particular situation that does make sense in other situations -- with different types of workers. At my job, we recently learned of a layoff at a another hospital. The other hospital is quite different from ours in every way and is over 30 miles away and we've been as busy as can be, but many of the nurses were worried that the bad circumstances would spread to us. Nurses are a very different personality type than programmers and actuaries. That personality type tends to write most personnel policy and advice, which helps to make it seem absurd to people who are more oriented to facts than to feelings.

TS said...

Very true Gregg. I guess there was a theatre of the absurd aspect about it in that past our bosses sometimes haven't told us of layoffs within our direct organization, so this seemed a rather abrupt depature.