I am one of those clients and yet, I was told today that my five-minute phone call was essentially a waste of this secretary's time. That, for every minute she spent with me, she lost time on other (assumingly more) important work.
Huh. I found that response wildly inappropriate and simultaneously fascinating. My reason for calling, you ask? Right--I was checking the status of a file--I had left five messages in the last ten days requesting an update by phone or email. When I finally did get a hold of an actual person, this person lied to me, avoided answering my question directly, and then, after I called the individual on both counts, ultimately informed me I was a waste of her time and somehow, because of the five minutes she spent talking to me (after avoiding my call for ten days), I was the reason she wasn't going to make her deadlines.
No, no--I'm certainly not the reason your deadlines are missed. You may want to revisit that thought. You are simply inept, socially and professionally. Hint for the future: Find yourself a job where you do not have to interact with people. It's not right for you. You have a bad attitude--no, worse--you have an entitled attitude which you use to abuse the politic-kindness of others...like me.
So why would I have put up with it? Because, while this ridiculous excuse for a professional is clearly out of control--I am not.
The Stoics, people like Marcus Aurelius (yes, the guy from Gladiator...) and even someone who was not a literal king (though kingly indeed), the disabled slave, Epictetus, believed that the ONLY thing we control as human beings is our own thoughts. You may FEEL a certain way--overwhelmed, overworked, over-whatever--but you do not have to ACT on those feelings because...you can THINK! A miracle of all miracles--we have brains (if only some of us would use them...). Stoicism, a (literally) thousands of years old philosophy--is the answer to people whose emotional IQ's seem almost non-existent. Of course, the problem is always ignorance. But ignorance is the favorite excuse of the apathetic. When in doubt, just pretend you don't know any better...right? WRONG. Very, very wrong.
Marcus Aurelius had this great quote: "If it's not right, don't do it; if it's not true, don't say it." Best life-advice on the planet. Simple. Concise. Wise. With brevity there is wit, with wit, brevity...and then there are the people like this surly secretary. No matter how simple, how obvious, there will always be those individuals out there who will NEVER get it. And by "get it" I mean never make the connection to think before acting on an emotion. It's much easier to let your emotions do the talking--let's face it, we'd all like to let loose once in a while. Everybody has a right to a bad day...except, this isn't the first time I've dealt with the surly secretary and gotten similar results.
It's definitely on the frustrating side of my fence--dealing with imbeciles. The moronic notions of people with the emotional IQ of a gnat. But what I found more interesting as an English professor, as a writer, was that the very word--even the concept itself--PROFESSIONALISM, has become somewhat of a neologism.
Professionalism used to mean that when a client or student or whoever you were doing business with called, you answered. Professionalism used to mean that when someone you worked for had a concern, you met that concern with reassurance. Professionalism used to mean that when there was a problem with your work, you found a solution. But not in today's "GenMe" environment; not in today's "professional" culture--where clients or people you work for are expected to feel grateful for your existence. The fact that you deign to even work at all should be rewarded with confidence. There is no sense of earned trust and respect--it's just assumed that because you have whatever piece of paper you may need calling you "expert," that everyone around you will just congratulate you for having it.
What a wonderful world it must be for those people--to do whatever they want, say whatever they want--with little or no consequences. It's just too bad for the rest of us poor slobs who actually THINK, who USE our intelligence for the betterment of others, who do not seek to abuse the trust of those who willingly give it.
To that surly secretary and everyone like her, I wish to say this: I feel sorry for you. Everyday. Your life is miserable because you have an artificial sense of who you are--Karl Marx called it a false consciousness. These are people who, to put it in pop culture terms, are still plugged in to the Matrix. Sure, you get to eat gourmet meals; yes, you have a lovely home--but none of it is real--it's all made up to distract you from THINKING. And that, dear readers, is the saddest thing of all. Anyone can work a computer with opposable thumbs--our increase in technological advances trick certain non-thinking individuals into BELIEVING that somehow, because of those miraculous thumbs, they, too, are equally advanced. If only it were THAT easy....
I love Darwinism. It's my favorite form of chaos. My son found a fortune (from a fortune-cookie) on the ground the other day; it said: "Brilliance often follows chaos." My hope is, in the spirit of Darwinism, that human genetics begin to include more of the THINKING kind, and less of the THOUGHTLESS.
So you tell me, is PROFESSIONALISM a neologism? Is the concept of the PROFESSIONAL coming to an end in our postmodern, posthuman, futurist world??? As you meet these same people on your path through life, meet them with compassion--even if undeserved. Because you THINK, it is your responsibility to do so, even when others around you aren't. No one said Einstein had it easy....
Good luck as you face your own surly secretaries, dear readers. Remember, the pen is always mightier than the sword.... ;)