Tuesday, August 21, 2007

To: Cc: Bcc: Subject:..... WTF.

I don't know how many emails I got today because I stopped counting at 81.

At one point I told someone that while it was flattering to be considered right up there with the Oracle of Delphi, I had no special powers other than the same tools available to him to run a query.

Sven told me of a time when the assistant to a Yale professor phoned him at his office in London to say that she'd been told to fax him a document, and could he tell her whether she should place the paper face-up or face-down in the fax machine?

"She called me in London to ask me about her fax machine. In the United States. I told her to send it both ways and I'd tell her which way worked."

I have to concede that this story tops even my MBA who tried to fax from a tabletop photocopier.

The thing that keeps me from losing my mind is that I have nobody breathing down my neck. Most of my emails are from people who need help, usually because nobody's trained them, and it's a good exercise in patience for me. And people seem to like me (my boss forwarded me an email from one of our paralegals who told him how much she enjoyed working with me).

I've discovered that if you have a sense of humor and a gift for diplomacy you can basically tell people (even people you genuinely like) that they're a pain in the ass and still retain a good working relationship ("Wow, you are really on it - tell you what - rather then email me each time you find an error, which is apparently every five minutes - on the data that no fewer than five people have been in charge of, in succession, over the past year, why don't you make a spreadsheet of all the issues, and we can tackle then all at once as a special project. Thank you for being so thorough and conscientious, and bringing things to my attention that I've already mentioned I have no control over and no answer for just yet. Once I'm done manually checking 250 cost-codes for my meeting tomorrow, I'll take a look, and I'm sure we'll have the historical information on all 24 multi-million-dollar contracts sorted out in no time!")

They get the edited version, of course.

Today after I'd biked home I took a shower and went out for a walk. As usual, people had brought their dogs to the front lawn of the nearby high school, which turns into a puppy park after hours. I turned up the path, and as I approached one of the guys, I said, "I've had a long day at work. I could really use a puppy break." I squatted and was instantly surrounded by dogs. I got my face slobbered on, then I went to work scritching the rump proferred me by a Shepherd cross, while a Shih-Tsu leanded against me for a back rub.

After a few minutes of this I stood, thanked the man (with whom I had not spoken), and headed my way, refreshed and somewhat furry.


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