Friday, August 21, 2009

Stating the Obvious

"No," I said simply, waiting for everyone to turn and pay attention to me. "It's an unreasonable request and we won't be supporting it." The other manager in the room blinked at me in surprise and I remained calm but firm.

"This is a battle of egos," I explained simply. "One wants Other to knock politely on his door and say something like 'pretty please, won't you give us more money? We so appreciate you and your greatness and can't bear to go on without you.' So all this work and preparation is pointless. We are not of great enough importance to say 'pretty please, won't you give us more money? We appreciate you and your greatness and can't bear to go on without you.' It hasn't worked. So we stop. One either asks or doesn't. But we are done wasting time on this."

"But," he said after a moment, swiveling his chair to face me fully, "we can't do the work without the money."

"There is other work," I reminded him gently. "This is one of many projects and I'd like to see it get done. But we aren't accomplishing anything other than trying - and failing - to convince someone to do as we ask. Look," I said, beginning to get angry, "they need this project far more than we do. If they don't want to pay for it, we stop doing it. Then Other can come to One and beg for assistance. But we're done here."

I stayed after everyone had left upon the request of the scientist who'd called the meeting. "I've been working on this for months," he said and I winced.

"I know," I replied, interrupting him. "And I'm sorry. I truly think you're doing an amazing job. And I'm frustrated that it's doing no good, and - "

"I wanted to thank you," he said. "It is all ego and I'm tired of running in circles and I didn't think anyone would ever say anything."

"Oh," I beamed at him. "Well. I'm happy to help."

I found myself slightly less happy to help when I was called away from a busy afternoon to head off campus to handle meetings.

"This is pointless," another woman offered when we found a spare meeting room to spread out papers and analyze. "They're not even going to use what we make."

"Probably not," I smiled at her, trying to be encouraging. "But I try to think of it as a learning experience - taking some information, identifying what's missing, figuring out who has it or how to get it, deciding how to present it in a way that best makes a point. Plus, my boss told me to."

"Mine, too," she sighed and I offered her half of the cookie I'd grabbed on the way to the room. I wanted the whole cookie, but I felt badly that my pep talk hadn't cheered her up.

"You're awesome," Adam said when he poked his head in to check on me before leaving for the evening.

"I know," I replied and smiled before telling him good night. "I do what he says," I replied to my new friend when she asked how I'd gotten my boss to like me so much. "Totally works," I confirmed when she asked if that was effective.

"You sound good," Mom said mid-conversation. I'd called as soon as I got home and she said she was doing well. Minimal bruising. The people were all very nice. Everything had happened very quickly after she was informed something might be wrong.

"I'm so happy you're well," I told her. And, while obvious, it's so completely and wonderfully true.

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