Wednesday, October 13, 2010

And Lo! The Word Came Down from On High

To simplify things and avoid my getting into trouble, let's just say that I am a level 3 administrator in the organization. Every month, my supervisor and his assistants (levels 5 and 4, respectively) call all the level 3's together to deal with problems, seek advice, and preach the gospel (from levels 6, 7, 8, 9, etc.). It's a good system, and the level 4- and 5-ers above me are good folks. We 3's don't always like what gets preached, but we're basically obedient and do our best to comply.

So about 6 months ago, in our meeting, the word came down that we could no longer do X. Sure, we had been allowed to do X in the past, but those days were over. No more X. They were serious. X causeth a multitude of problems, apparently, so just stop it. Now.

And in the months since then, we have been reminded at least a half-dozen times, in various contexts, that X was a thing of the past. Thou Shalt Not X. Remember? Remember how we said no more X? Well, better get used to it, 'cause NO MORE X.

I got it.

Only here's the problem: It soon became apparent that the best, most logical way to solve a problem in my department was to do . . . you guessed it: X. But I knew better. But I really needed to X. But I knew I couldn't. But. . . .

So I went to #5, and I said, "I know I can't do X. I know that. It's clear that X causes warts and communism, so X is Right Out. But you see, I need to do this certain thing, and is seems to little ol' me that the easiest thing to do would be XbutIknowIcan'tdothatsoyoudon'thavetotellme, so what do you think I should do instead?" Number 5 listened carefully and came up with a plan. He'd take the problem to #7.

So it turns out that #7 agreed that I was in a sticky situation all right, and maybe we could solve it by doing Y. Well, Y was actually a good idea. It was not something I knew about, and Y would work just fine to solve my problem. "So that's why #7 gets the big bucks," I thought. So I did as I was asked, and wrote up a case for Y, explaining why I needed to do Y and what a good idea it would be. And #5 added his support, and we sent it to #7, and #7 took my case to #8.

And I waited.
Then, today, I got an email from #7! And it said that #7 and #8 weren't really ready to do Y, it seemed a little drastic. No need for such draconian action. They suggested that X would be simpler. So I just needed to write a memo explaining why I wanted to do X, and that would be that.

Of course, I hit "Reply" immediately.

"But, you silly ass," I wrote, "X is what I wanted to do all along but you've been telling me over and over and over and over that I couldn't and now you say to me thas;dlkjfgaspoiuga;la;rua."

Those of you with who have trod the administrative boards will recognize the "s;dlkjfgaspoiuga;la;rua" part as where my vast administrative experience of two years kicked in and saved my backside. My instincts told my fingers to just quit working. Then my instincts told me to hit the delete key until my whole reply disappeared. And I walked away.

So I will write the memo, and get permission, and do X, and all will be well.

But the real question in my mind is, how long do you have to be an administrator before you start understanding things like this? Before you understand that Of course, you can't apply Y to a PS-55/J17, but that a PS-55/J17 is the only really acceptable exception to the "NO MORE X" rule?

Cause I have to retire before then.