Suffering fools

Sunflowers from NaturesPixel - aren’t they fabAs I get older and crankier, I am less patient of people who refuse to trust my professional judgement. It would be nice if I was growing more tolerant of human insecurity, but I’m not.

My former team’s new boss put a meeting in my diary so that I could explain one part of my previous job, planting sunflowers, which apparently I had failed to include in my handover.

Now there is nothing to planting sunflowers – you bung the seeds in the ground, water them, and a few months later you’ve got twelve foot tall bright yellow daisy-things tapping on your bedroom windows. My former team member knows this well enough. On top of which, there was nothing to hand over. I’d picked up an action from a previous meeting (buy the sunflower seeds and put them in the kitchen drawer until the spring) and done it: the packets of seeds were safely in the kitchen drawer. The only thing I missed was telling anyone I’d done it, and I only missed that because I’d done it and crossed it off my “to do” list a month or so before the handover. I forgot to tell my team I’d wiped my nose on the third Thursday in August too.

Instead of ringing me up and saying “Aphra, I went to a meeting the other day and they asked if you’d bought any sunflower seeds, but I didn’t know whether or not you had” we had a meeting request followed up with emails using words like “very embarrassing” with stuff underlined in red, and using phrases like “all aspects of the sunflower project”. Eventually we got to “even so” and “at any time that’s convenient to you”.

You know things are tense when you get to “even so”. “Any time that’s convenient to you” is Defcon 3, really, isn’t it?

I refuse to spend an hour of my one and only precious life-time in a meeting explaining that the packet of sunflower seeds is in the kitchen drawer, topping and tailing it with a 15 minute walk to their site and a 15 minute walk back. Instead I’ve taken them at their word and booked a meeting which makes them do the walking. And I am going to get my former team member to explain to his boss that the way you grow sunflowers is to put the seeds in the ground and water them. You see, this is the thing that annoys me: he already knows how to do it because I taught him how, and the whole thing is a bloody great drama over nothing – so much so that one, single, ten minute phone call sorted it out with my former team member, but his boss “had a meeting to go to” both times I phoned him. Which is how we arrived at “even so”and “any time that’s convenient to you” and the 15 minute walks.

I don’t mind being asked to explain things. But I really dislike being asked to explain myself.

The image is by a photographer called Leisa Hennessy. I am so glad I chose sunflowers as my metaphor.

7 responses to “Suffering fools

  1. What a silly situation. Is this what people really do in the corporate world? It almost sounds like a spoof on real life. Maybe you are on Candid Camera.

  2. Yes they do, Irene. Posturing and grand-standing are a large part of the corporate world (as I distantly remember), but I wish it was Candid Camera so that we could watch Aphra make them eat their words, and their sunflowers for that matter.

  3. I shouldn’t have let it get under my skin. Mountains, molehills and all that.

    It’s no pettier than any small enclosed community such as a village or small town, or a large school. But you are right Irene, it is petty.

    Thanks for the comments, both.


  4. Jolly expensive sunflowers! Worthy of Van Gogh…..

  5. Wow. I am not complaining about my job for the rest of the week. I found myself annoyed having to describe what the world “refractory” meant to people, but your situation is much more of the head-banging-against-the-wall variety.

  6. Oh, this is exactly the reason I’m home with my kids and hope never to have to go work in an office again.

  7. Well, I feel close to cutting off appendages, anticant, though at the moment I’m not sure if they’re mine or someone else’s!

    This too shall pass, Courtney. Or I hope so anyway.

    Mary, how wise you are!

    Thanks all for the clear light of sanity you’ve been casting on this folly and pettiness.


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