Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Blogger’s Paradox

The blogger’s paradox, for me, is that when everything is hunky-dory and I find myself with ample time to compose my thoughts and assemble the latest installment of PA, chances are good that I will find myself really reaching for subject matter. Conversely, when the generally happy routine is severely disrupted, chances are those disruptions are negative enough that my mood for writing is severely diminished, and my time becomes otherwise occupied and the blogging asserts is deservedly “optional” nature in the grand scheme of things.

Yesterday, on one level, should have been an easy opener for the week, since Monday is my traditional day to blog about work and it was an out-of-the-ordinary workday at that. The federal government was on holiday for Presidents’ Day and I chose to come in to the office rather than spend one of my allotted floating holidays. There were a few noteworthy upsides to this in addition to safeguarding my bank of paid time off: we contractors are allowed to dress way down (blue jeans and polos) in light of the govvies’ collective absence; the traffic was extremely light, making the commute significantly easier than the norm; and my boss arranged to take all of his contracting subordinates out to a working lunch (which means it was all expensed and we were allowed to charge the time for it, too).

And really, let me just say a few words in praise of my boss here, because he really is the kind of supervisor which I am thankful to have. I ended last week filling you all in on some more details about my paranoid, unpleasant co-worker Ms. Antisocial. One thing which I didn’t mention was that I kept my own little run-in with her to myself within the office. Part of the difficulty in dealing with the whole situation is how absurdly middle-schoolish the whole affair feels to me, with the parties involved going out of their way to handle things in the most immature ways possible. The whole reason I got even slightly dragged in at all was because Ms. A. had, apparently, been told by someone that I was saying things that she didn’t like, but when she confronted me with it things very quickly fell apart (as he-said/she-said always does) between all the interpretations and inaccuracies and implications and all in all it’s just kind of, are you kidding me? No professional conversation should include any sentences that literally begin “Well someone told me that you said …” Just, NO. Do not bring that to me at work. The flipside in believing pretty strongly in that principle is that I refused to go running to my boss with any “Ms. A. just accused me of undermining her version of events!” sob story, and it really was a no-brainer of a decision.

Sometimes it's more important to know what you don't want to be than what you want to be.
But as it happened, on Friday mid-morning (right around the time I was finishing up my epic recap for the day’s post here) my boss called me into his office and asked “How are things going back there now?” It is hard to overstate how much I appreciated him asking, because I felt like that was a legitimate opening for me to say “Well, things are honestly really, really tense. Ms. A. accused me of this and that, and really I don’t care because I know I haven’t done anything wrong and I didn’t want to bring it to you because I know you’ve got enough to deal with right now. But it was pretty weird and has made things that much more uncomfortable in our workspace.” And not only did my boss accept that quick update as a valid response to his inquiry, but he told me, “I’m really glad you told me that because she did the same thing to me! She came in my office and said I had been telling her subcontract supervisor that she wasn’t telling the truth, all kinds of stuff like that.” So all of that made me feel a lot better and, again, appreciative of my boss. He genuinely wanted to know what was going on, he was trying to stay on top of things by checking in every few days and not by micromanaging, he let me say my piece and totally validated it with his own experience, he sympathized, he appreciated when I said I was pretty sure I could ride out the discomfort level until we move to a different office at the end of next month. That’s all I really want! I know everybody has to work with crazy folk now and then, and it’s just reassuring to know that those in power up above are aware that I am not the crazy one.

So yeah, that was Friday and then on Monday my boss takes the whole team (not including Ms. A., who did choose to take the holiday off, which is really just as well) to a really nice lunch which lasted for three hours and ended with him telling us all to take the rest of the day off. You can’t beat that with a bat!

As it happened, I needed to get home as soon as possible anyway yesterday, because the little guy’s grandma was watching him for the day and he had a late afternoon pediatrician’s appointment we were trying to coordinate. But really there’s a lot to unpack in that scenario, because the little guy being out of daycare while mom and dad were at work had nothing to do with Presidents’ Day and more to do with the fact that he smacked his head at school on Friday hard enough to give himself a concussion, and we wanted to keep him in a more controlled environment for as long as possible to avoid risk of re-injury, plus while my wife and I are somewhat understanding of the fact that accidents happen and toddlers are accident-prone, we are less understanding of the very poor showing the daycare center has made of handling the fallout of the accident, which is essentially a camel’s back-breaking straw in terms of impelling us into the market for a new daycare center, all of which adds up to the other side of the coin: even if I had had time to blog yesterday, in my foreshortened morning before the long lunch and early dismissal, I wasn’t exactly in the proper headspace given various other developments over the previous weekend.

The little guy is fine, by the way. Any concussion is scary as hell, of course, all the moreso when visited upon one’s very own tiny bundle of joy, and if the most recent NFL season has taught us anything it’s that we-the-societal-collective don’t necessarily know everything there is to know about the long-term health effects of concussions, but insofar as it makes logical sense to say it, the little guy is fine now. I will probably go into the whole ordeal later this week, the medical ministrations and the aforementioned daycare ramifications, but for those of you with a rooting interest in the child’s welfare, I didn’t want to leave you on pins and needles as I gather my strength for that particular three-thousand word diatribe.

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