"In many disciplines, for the majority of graduates, the Ph.D. indicates the logical conclusion of an academic career." Marc Bousquet

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Procrastinating the Insanity of Doing Stupid Stuff Twice

Scene 1 (two weeks ago via email)
Coworker in Different City: "Recent Ph.D., will you please alphabetize this attached chart of people sponsoring Global Warming Is a Myth event? Then send it back to me and Other Coworker ASAP. Other Coworker needs it so ze can put organizations and names up on the website." (Subtext: You have a PhD, and I get to tell you to do something a 2nd grader could do -- and that I'm too lazy to do myself. Hahahahahahaha!)

Recent Ph.D.: "Why, certainly, Coworker in Different City. I'd be happy to do that for you. I'll do it this afternoon and send it right back to you and Other Coworker."(Subtext: Really? Wouldn't it take you just as much time to do this yourself as to exchange messages with me?)

Coworker in Different City: "Great. The sooner the better because I'm on vacation next week, and we need to get this done before I go."

But I was wrong about the time it would take. It took me about an hour, way longer than it should have because the formatting on the chart was f***ed up and information missing. So, as I was alphabetizing, I put in the missing information and fixed the formatting. And then I sent it back to Coworker in Different CIty AND Other Coworker.

Other Coworker replies promptly via email: "Got it! Thanks, Recent. I appreciate it."

However, Coworker in Different City, perhaps already on vacation, does not reply. Perhaps ze does not check hir email before going on vacation?

Scene 2 (today, via email)
Coworker in Different City: "I just added some new names to the chart of sponsors for Global Warming Is a Myth event. Could you please alphabetize?"

Recent Ph.D.: "I alphabetized the original chart and sent it to you two weeks ago, as you requested. Wouldn't it have made more sense to simply add the new names and organizations to the chart that is already in alpha order?"

Coworker in Different City: "I added some new names. Alphabetize please." (Subtext: I missed your email because I was on vacation and now feel stupid. But my mistake is your redundant chore to fix. Because I can tell you to fix my stupid mistake -- because you're supposed to be "helping" me -- and I'm too lazy to do it myself).

Recent Ph.D.: "Well, could you just tell me which names you added? Or, whether you added them to the bottom or top or in some other way? That way, I can take them from the list you're working from and add them to the already alphabetized list, instead of throwing out what I already did and re-alphabetizing the entire thing. Because, you know, that's kind of a waste of time."

Coworker in Different City: "I don't remember which ones I added or where I put them in the chart. Can you look and see? And then alphabetize?"

Right. OK. I'll get right on that. Clearly this is very important to you. Clearly, you need someone with a PhD working 700 miles away from you alphabetizing the same chart for the second time because you didn't check your email and updated the wrong chart.

And global warming is a myth. And recent PhDs are paid more to alphabetize than to teach. This is the world we live in.

In all fairness, I don't mind helping, even if I think the event is stupid. What irritates me is dealing with an inefficient work process -- and these scenes are just part of a larger set of things to do for this event and this faraway coworker -- that I have no power to change.

See, if you tell me to do something, you can count on me to get it done. Even if I am annoyed by you and the task, I will do it in a timely fashion. And I will do it right, even if that means fixing your original mistakes. But if you then ignore what I did, not even bothering to thank me, proceed with the project as if I did not do what you told me to do "ASAP," and then ask me to do essentially the same thing again? Well, friend, I will then freely blog about your stupidity, whilst avoiding your redundant task.

So, you know, here's to you Coworker in DIfferent City:

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