Some Things Stay The Same

Earlier this evening, I was looking through some old file folders trying to find a particular piece of paper.

Going through old files can be interesting, when one stumbles upon something that one forgot about. Like two old performance reviews from my last job.

Now, I will admit that when I started this particular job, it was very much outside of my skill set/comfort zone. I took the job because it was a chance to work at the same place as Julian, because it was a fairly new company when I started and there were growth opportunities, and, quite frankly, because the job paid about eight-thousand dollars more per year than the job I was then currently working at.

The first review was for a six month period (the second six months I worked there). If I got a review for my first six months, I don’t have it. But, the second sixth month period dealt with my work in a position that was different than the one I was hired for.

It was a reasonably good review, though in the area of communication, on a scale of 1-5 (five being the best), I received a 2.

I can hear you gasping from here.

Yes. I received poor marks in communication. But, not for the reason you might think.

I wasn’t poor at communicating. Rather, it was because I communicated too much.

Now, I know all of you who’ve followed me for any length of time know that I can certainly write a long, rambling blog post. Sure, it may be well written, even though it’s long. Apparently, in an office environment (I came from a primarily retail/customer service background, so an office setting was a very new thing for me), long, rambling emails are not as well received as long, rambling blog posts. Creativity in an email is frowned upon in an office environment.

I received a 2 on my communication skills, with a comment to “tighten and condense my emails.”

This particular rating came as no surprise as I had really freaked out my supervisors when I wrote a long, rambling email and, in a burst of creative energy used an analogy about a haircut — something along the lines of “It’s like when you go get your hair done in a new style. The hairstylist cuts and styles your hair, and, when you leave the salon, your hair looks perfect, but, once you’re on your own, at home, you can never get your hair to look the same way again.” (That was the short version of the analogy. My recollection is that the analogy was much longer, much more involved, and written with much more flourish.)

I’m fairly certain that one particular supervisor has a permanent scar on his psyche from my long, rambling analogy about the hairdo. Sure, it still gets brought up from time to time, and laughed about, but, I think he still gets a little bug-eyed when he thinks about it too much.

So, with regret, I put away the analogy, and became quite good at short, sweet, to the point emails. It was a good learning experience though. Fortunately, on my blog, I can tell long, rambling hairdo stories any time I so chose. However, if the day comes when I’m back in an office setting, I may have to be reminded to “tighten and condense” again.

The second review, which was for my third six month period, I received a 4.5 on my written communication skills.

I did, however, get another low rating — a 3 rating. This time it was for the following review question: “Is the Leader impartial when faced with emotional situations?”

Sadly, my ¬†emotional behavior was a bit unprofessional. According to my review, “At times of high stress, John tends to let his emotions dictate his professional demeaner” (sic). Translation: John can be a fucking basket case sometimes. This was not a surprise to me because John has always let his emotions dictate his demeanor, for as long as he can remember. And, because you’re all my friends, and I feel I can be honest with you, John is still a fucking basket case sometimes (and, sometimes John is a fucking basket case more than “sometimes”, he’s a fucking basket case “frequently”).

The review also references, as an example, a particularly unprofessional emotional meltdown, when I stood in the middle of the office, and had a very loud meltdown, referring to a fellow employee as a “fucking witch.”

(As an aside: John has, more than once in his life, called someone a “fucking witch”. In the grand scheme of John’s life, “fucking witch” is actually a rather mild insult. John still has meltdowns and uses foul language. Some things stay the same.)

Now, here’s a chance to see if you’re paying attention to the tale, and to see if you can figure out why I’m amused by the two reviews.

Think about it. It might not jump right out at you.

I’ll give you a minute to think about it ….

Did you figure it out?

Well, in case it’s a bit obscure (because I have rambled on a great deal, and if this were tighter and more condensed, it might just leap right out at you), I’ll tell you why I was so amused finding these two reviews. (And, I’ll be honest and say that I didn’t notice at the time. It only dawned on me this evening as I was reading these reviews, and reliving some delightful memories of my job).

According to my reviews, writing long, rambling reviews gets me a 2, on a 1-5 scale (according to the review sheet, a 2 is “below average”). And, according to the reviews, a 3, which equals “average” was my rating for a loud meltdown in which I loudly used the term “fucking witch.” So, seemingly, calling someone a “fucking witch” is not as serious an offense as writing long, rambling emails about hairdos.

Perhaps it has to do with the number of people who were able to laugh at me.

I got a 2 for the email, which only a couple of people saw and read, whereas, the loud, foul-mouthed meltdown was heard by many. So, maybe I got the extra point for providing the entire office with some entertainment for a brief part of an afternoon.

(In case you’re wondering — I really am laughing at the whole thing. I did write long, long, long emails, and I deserved to be called to task for it. And, I did have a meltdown, loudly, and publicly, and, probably deserved a harsher punishment. I was lucky to have worked for that particular company — which no longer exists, except in memories — and, I was exceedingly lucky to have met and worked with some truly wonderful people, several of whom I’m honored to call friends. It was a wild, stressful, wacky ride. I was lucky to have been a part of it all.)

9 thoughts on “Some Things Stay The Same

  1. I love this post, John. I knew exactly why you were amused but that’s just because I once infiltrated the HR environment where I was a subversive for the labor force- got a problem with your supervisor, notify the State Attorney General and the Human Rights Commission!

    My problem is the reverse of yours, I am so accustomed to business email that my family refers to my email as interoffice memos. I recently dealt with some flak for this missive-
    “J just called while I was trying to print tax forms, now he doesn’t answer his phone. I will be unavailable to everyone with the exceptions of the IRS, State Treasury, our accountant, and actual live customers until January 15, 2014. Questions, comments, or concerns should be directed to Beauregard (my husband and the kids’ dad). I am not very important but I am damn busy.”
    It seems the family was offended. Tough shit.

      1. Yes, I am rather, shall we say brisk? In my defense, they are all without an inkling, no observational powers at all. They’ve known me for an awfully long time, they know that at the end of the year it sucks to be me and they know I have no time; yet, it doesn’t stop them from expecting me to drop everything for them. I like imagining the day after my funeral, except I won’t be having one, when they realize how things used to get done… . Yes, brisk and vindictive that’s me, dare we say a “fucking witch”?

  2. I am laughing right along with you! I cannot even begin to tell you how many times I wanted to have a meltdown and call someone a “fucking witch” or far worse in the middle of a meeting. Gad, you did it? You are my hero.

  3. I wrote a super long paper in my Sociology class specifically because I hated the way the instructor kept telling me to condense everything. I got a B in that class. She torched my A by giving me a C on my final paper which I don’t even think she bothered to read. She just didn’t like me for some reason. I think it was because of my gender, she was a hardcore feminist. Community College, what are you gonna do. Luckily I don’t really place much importance on the grading system. I really liked this post by the way. :) I’m rambling! Happy New Year John!

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