Just so you know, I’m kind of grumpy today.
Imagine this exchange (fill in the variables with whatever relatively simple task suits you):
“Excuse me, could you tell me how to do X? It doesn’t come up often here, and I don’t know how.”
“I don’t see how it’s my problem. And by the way, what you’ve got is clearly Z.”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to offend. No, seriously. I wasn’t trying to pawn it off on you. I really don’t know, but I’d like to. I see how it could look like a Z, but it’s not my call. I’ve been asked to treat it as X. You know how it is. Now I’ve got to get this out yesterday. Can you tell me how? If you can’t that’s cool, but do you know who could?”
“No, you were pretty clear, I just don’t see how it’s my problem.”
“…” (That’s what my incredulous stare looks like in print.)
My self confidence isn’t always terribly high, but I always thought I was a reasonably nice guy – someone who’s seen as pretty helpful. I find that almost everyone reciprocates when I need a hand. It’s one of the things I really like about this place. Maybe it’s because it doesn’t happen very often, but I’m almost always shocked when someone doesn’t. Was it something I said, or the way I said it? Was I speaking in tongues?
Hell, it’s not like I was asking for a week-long seminar. I just needed the name of two items and where they needed to be sent. We’re talking about 30 – 60 seconds of talk time. It probably took half that much time to brush me off. Hell, I don’t even remember pissing anyone off recently.
I think it’s because I’m shy, but it usually takes me a while to find the exact words I want to say in person (with a few exceptions). Heck, it takes long enough when I’m all alone with my PowerBook. Ah, but anger has a way of greasing my wheels of expression. All kinds of choice, satisfying, and wholly inappropriate words came to mind. I didn’t say any of them.
You know what’s the worst of all? This happened a week ago and I still haven’t got my answer, not even going up the ladder a few rungs. I’m almost speechless.
By the way, it was an X not a Z. If this person had taken about 30 seconds to check their facts they’d have known too, and not looked lazy AND stupid.
I’m afraid there’s a chance that last line didn’t help my reputation.
But it felt pretty good.