Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The New Vocabulary

Tell Us How You Really Feel

I didn't know any of these terms 5 years ago. Some I have come up with myself, others have been given to me by equally frustrated co-workers. It hasn't been a terribly good week at the office. There is a lot of politicing going on becuase of looming budget cuts and case loads. Folks are jockeying for position, and not doing a lot of work in the interium.

I have learned that the best way to relieve stress is to jot something down, so here goes.

Bobblehead Manager
You have seen them. You have probably worked for them. No matter how bad things get, or how many mistakes are made, they just stand there moving their head like it was on springs. Their one saving grace as supervisors is that they always have a good attitude. Working with them is always a happy-happy, joy-joy experience. Upper managment likes these types. They promote harmony and make the CEOs feel safe. They rarely accomplish much in the real world though.

Playdough General
Some managers are made of iron some are made of playdough. They can be molded into the heroic figures of Geroge Patton or Irwin Rommel. While they look imposing at first, they just tend to stand there and do nothing. First impressions will only get you so far.

Definition: "The rarefied organizational layers beginning just above the rank and file. Decisions that fall from the Adminisphere are often profoundly inappropriate or irrelevant to the problems they were designed to solve." This one is so common, I actaully wrote a whole blog on it alone. This condition comes from two possible sources. The manager that is so focused on upward mobility, that they totally lose touch with what their underlings are doing, and those managers that move into a position from outside the organization, and have absolutley no practical knowledge of the organization that they have joined.

Rec-Centric [Recommendation Centered] This is a term I came up with to describe a particular problem in my office. Through the constant dumbing down of the office staff (see below), the actual work in the office began to center on the primary production unit, called the recommendation. All training eventually centered around this because it was the one thing management could hold in their hand and look at. It was tangible. Only problem was that all the other things we are supposed to do that didn't appear on the recommendation suffered terribly. Hence, the Rec-Centric point of view. Concentrating on the obvious and dismissing all the details that lay beneith it.

Dumbing Down (the process to the lowest common denominator, instead of training to the highest potential)..or the office is as strong as it's weakest link, so lets ALL be weak links.

The Seagull Manager They fly in, make a lot of noise, shit on everything, turn things over and fly away. They tend to look good on paper, but the reality is, they have little practical experience.

Pushing Paper
When Supervision and Management totally fail, it is important to look busy, so that if the higher ups actually find out how screwy things are, we can always claim it is because we are to busy to deal with the real problems. But it only looks like we are is just volume, volume, volume with no quality control.

Titanic Promotion Being made Captain of the Titanic 'after' it strikes the iceberg isn't really a promotion, they are looking for someone to take the fall for the previous Captain's mistakes (who has probably been promoted to a better ship).

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Alternate Path

Bridge to Tommarrow / Bridge of Sorrow
(click picture for satalite view)

I am blessed in many ways. The older I get, the more I appreciate the little stuff that I used to take for granted. One of them is the fact that I get to walk to work. I don't commute anymore and the difference in the quality of life is amazing.

On my route to work I cross over Interstate 10 just before it runs into the Deck-Park Tunnel which goes under Margret T. Hance Park here in Phoenix. There is a pedestrian bridge that crosses over this 6 lane freeway and I walk it twice a day, once on the way to work and once on the way back.

This bridge has come to symbolize a lot of things to me. The halfway point of the journey, solitude, beauty, simplicity and a host of other metaphors depending on my mood, the time of day, the traffic flow and the weather.

The bridge is almost always deserted. Phoenix, Arizona is a car town, nobody walks here. When I walk over it in the morning during rush hour; there is a sea of cars beneath me, all going about 10 miles per hour, bumper to bumper. On the other hand, I am high above them, in the sunlight, listening to my iPod, not a soul in sight, in my own little world.

Someday, I suppose they will all be up here with me. When gas gets to be $7.47 a gallon and they have all declared bankruptcy and had their Lincoln Town Cars and Ford F-150s repossessed, they too will be walking to work across the bridge. Change is inevitable. They will all have to change sooner or later, I like to think that I already have, but I could be wrong. Maybe I am just a freak.

Until they all catch up with me, the only others users of the bridge are the homeless. They often times spend the night on it because the police can't see them and it is relatively safe. It is a hard concrete bed above the Peterbuilt Diesels and speeding sedans. They must feel safe and hidden up here, huddled behind the freeway sign on bridge that acts as a wind break on the cold desert nights.

I rarely see them. They are gone before I cross on my way to the office. But I can tell they have been there. They often leave things behind. Things like beer bottles, pieces of clothing, empty food containers. Sometimes there are things that are more personal.

Once on my way to work, I crossed the bridge and found the remnants of someone’s backpack strewn all across it. I stopped to identify some of the contents; a booking receipt for an arrest, some brochures on services available to the homeless, some study books for a course they were taking. Had they left it? Had it been stolen, there was no way to tell. Some of the forms indicated they belonged to a young man in his 20s, but all the dates were old, going back to 2002 and 2003. It all added up to a small piece of someone’s life, a part of a vast jigsaw puzzle. It was a small segment of a vast picture that I could not comprehend, but it made me wonder.

Contained in the various pieces of paper were some hand written letters. I chased them down in the swirling air kicked up by the speeding semi-trucks that roared underneath me and started to read them.....


Dear Jesse & Crystal,

Just a few lines to say hello and at the same time to say we are as well as can be expected. Nikki has a big bad ulcer at the base of his tail bone and he is very sick his doctor said he needs a bubble mattress so his back can heal. Well here is the 10.00 dollars hope you guys can go and buy a burger or something and you guys better buy candles and go clean your apartment cause your case manager wants to go check on you and also how are you suppose to get a phone if you are never home? You guys better get on the ball, go home and clean that apt and refrigerator. I bet you guys have some spoiled food there. You both have to learn how to cope with the problems that come up same as I do and not go running to Mama’s house. You and Crystal are not kids any more. Well I better go for now I am tired of asking any one to come help me when I need help the most. So god bless and keep safe both of you – Also, receive best wishes from Pelon and Dona Vero and also from Mr. Jose and Ruth and from me and Nikki. Receive all our love and blessings take care and be sure you guys make time to come see us some time when ever it is convenient also don’t forget to come put your application in for section 8 housing before they stop having applications, okay this way you can be sure of getting even a 1 bedroom house and not have pay anything only your bills or an apartment with every thing included, please do it as soon as possible okay. Take care and god bless you both.

P.S. Crystal, take good care of yourself and may our Virgin Mary give you what you most desire. God Bless You.

Your Nana & Nikki


My Dearest Grandson

Here is the psalm I promised you. Read it when you feel all alone alike me.

The lord is my Shepard I shall not want, He maketh me to lie down in green pastures, he leadth me beside the still waters, He restores my soul, He leadth me in the path of righteousness for his name sake. Yeah, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil for thau art with me, thy rod and they staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies, thou anointest my head with oil, my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the lord forever. In Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen

This is what I pray and he comforts me. I go in for x-rays on my right knee and to see the heart Dr also cause I don’t feel to well, to much worry I guess, but anyway, I want you to do your best and I am praying for you cause I know St. Jude and God will help you to over come obstacles that come your way so you can be a better man. I am so proud of you for doing the best you can and I know you will do better still, I have not heard from Crystal at all, I am hoping she will come see me, your cousins have not been able to find or see her. Lori Ann is in the hospital, she went to emergency cause she had a bad pain in her side and she was told she was eight months pregnant but the baby is not doing well cause he may have died while in her stomach. I spoke to her a little but she was going for some more tests and she had to hang up. Well, I guess I better go now cause I have to mail this letter and the other one I wrote to you before, but had no way to go to the post office. Excuse my writing but my hands are weak and my writing is awful. Well, take care and I will write again as soon as I have more news of Lori Ann. God bless and keep you safe all my love and kisses from me and Nikki

Love You

Nana, Nikki & Luis

I won't ever know who Jesse was, if Nikki is still alive, if Crystal was ever found, if Lori Ann's baby ever made it. There were a thousand questions on the bridge that morning. I have come to realize that there are always a thousand questions on the bridge, some are written down, some you just have to sense. The bridge tells me something every morning and every evening. It makes me think.