Posts Tagged ‘make’
Not too long ago, a fellow newbie coworker took her lunch break on-site at a school. After swallowing down a bit too much Diet Pepsi, she chose to belch. I gave it a five-point-five.
Our supervisor, shaking a single pointer finger, said in her stern supervisor voice:
No. That is not professional.
What a broad word, with so many implications. What a ubiquitous word, used to describe the je ne sais quoi that is professionalism. I decided to define it.
Polite subservience could be part of the equation, if you want — belching is not professional — but so often it isn’t, even in the service industry. Rude, haughty egotists are considered professionals so often that both politeness and subservience are the exception rather than the rule. In the civil service, it’s gotten so bad that a well-run Social Security office is something to write home about.
Professionals must first be confident. In sports and music, in businesses both private and public, in the related fields of politics and theater, the professional is the guy who blindsides you with just enough force of personality, just enough facts and figures, just enough flair for the dramatic that you can’t help but be stunned.
You will buy those tickets, you will invest your time and energy, you will believe in his world of make-believe. He catches you with his bag of tricks, the marvel being that he uses each these tricks with surgical precision.
Professionals, under no circumstances, are passionate about their job. Professionals may be interested in their job, or may even like it, but passion is right out; they can’t afford an addiction to the ego-inflating high of success, as it would mean catastrophe in the event of failure. If he falls short of the sales quota, or accidentally rips out the carburetor, or misfiles a TPS report, the professional doesn’t beat himself up. He accepts the incident for what it is, fixes it and moves on. He makes sure that it never happens again, repeating the process ever more carefully if it does.
Putting the two together, we find our definition:
Professionalism is emotionally detached confidence.
Professionals wouldn’t have it any other way. Even the soul-sucking nature of bureaucracy couldn’t change this — those professionals are inevitably they who know exactly what they’re doing, and who will roll with every punch.
If you approach this definition of professionalism, you’re professional. If you are this definition of professionalism, you lie. Maintaining professionalism is pretty tough.
Today was my first bad week of adulthood. That is what we’re calling 21 years old, right? Adulthood?
To provide the slightest sample, it was relatively early in the work day today that I didn’t mark down a staff member at a school her complimentary photo package, as is customary. It’s a relatively minor error, for which there is a form provided. Asking for what we call a variance report, I hear, coming from the mouth of a coworker who has no seniority over myself:
You’ve already messed up?
Well, yes. I admitted to it out loud before anyone present called me on it. Your condescending tone of voice is not appreciated, you fictional expletive.
I chose not to say that, instead smiling and laughing along with her. Even as I joined in with her cacophony, I recognized her laugh as the thinly veiled horse laugh of belittling — three short, barking guffaws. Our supervisor was present. Out of fairness, I hesitate to characterize her motivations.
I’m sure, though, that she really doesn’t like me, and my Bokononism-motivated turn of the cheek doesn’t save me from very much disliking her, and I’m one of those guys who tends to be pretty chipper. It isn’t that hard.
All it takes is to accept the unquestionably outrageous lie that feelings are always a choice, and that one is always in complete control of one’s actions. I figured that if I could swallow that whopper, I could believe just about anything — particularly the tautologies involving honesty and best policy, how one is always personally accountable for one’s actions and that thing about turning the other cheek.
Accepting all of the above, or at least at the appearance of them, keeps me a merry sort of fellow. Outside work, it bleeds over — I don’t want to help set up the band room, but I help out, anyway. Inside work, I feel like I bleed internally — I don’t want to put up with that condescending jerk from the office, but I do, anyway.
More specifically, as far as the office knows, I don’t mind waking up at o’-dark-hundred — true, because I like deserted roads; I get along pretty well with even all the staff — false, because more than a few don’t disguise what seems to be their hate of me; I like working as much as possible — true, because I need the duckets; only infrequently have I the urge to shove timesheets down the collective throats of two or three specific photogs — very, very false.
It’s only just barely that I put up with that whole responsibility gig that comes with coming of age, because it means I have to accept secondary and tertiary responsibilities, too. If I have to put up with one more of these zarking farkwarks, though, they’ll be the straw that broke the camel’s back — I might just renounce my membership from adulthood.
If only I didn’t need those duckets.
Given how my dad stressed the importance of unerring, militant frugality, I always assumed that living within a strict, barebones budget was responsible.
That’s why, when the time came, I really didn’t want to buy a floor lamp at Target. Floor lamps that don’t fall apart after college are rather mightily expensive, and my financial status is not so secure that I can afford a mightily expensive floor lamp that doesn’t fall apart.
Not like that changed anything: I had to buy a lamp. Despite my personal misgivings, and my cherished personal reputation as a bit of a Scrooge, I knew I had no other choice. I broke a friend’s lamp, and now I had to replace it.
I could’ve hidden behind my excuses. I can’t afford it — that’s the truth. I’m helping you move, so cut me a little slack — I was, and they could have. It looks like it’s working fine, it’s just that the head is wobbly — it did; that’s all seemed wrong with it, even if I know better now.
I could have gone cheap — that lamp looked tacky, cheap and nothing at all like the lamp I was supposed to replace. I would have gained very little goodwill. Most likely, I’d have lost some, and nearly a friend in the process.
Sometimes, I’ve only recently learned, it’s in the best interests of even the thrifty to bite the bullet. That’s going to be a tough bullet to swallow.