Time Divided by Work

“Perceptions” are always, ultimately, personal. You can’t really experience great tides of history in anything other than an abstract sense, unless you’re affected by them—in which case they become personal. For those who originally conceived and experienced the perception, the newly wrought might be surprised to hear “Well, duh” after they outline their thoughts on the matter.

But this is the digital age, when one need no more think of something before it’s hurled online at some point. (Usually in your comment section, FRA. Sorry!)

Still, old habits die hard, and while one might feel a certain thought is a unique one, there is the nagging feeling that it might not be so…that others would read your insight and think, “Well, duh.” But the urge to talk goes on. And, so, it’s posted anyway.

So forgive me if this seems pretty damned obvious. No, no, no, this isn’t like the Austrian self-sharpening razors, no sir, no overheating like with the tropical fishes, no zizzing and dripping like Ersatz Brothers Coffee, and this isn’t (for me) one of those, “Hey! I can use my turn signal lights to tell other drivers what I’m going to do!” obviousities that can be slammed to the matt and dismissed. For me. For you, it may be old news.

But, we’ll start with me, and something I realized a few days ago.

At work, I’ve discovered I am pretty darn judgmental and narrow minded. Aside from the folks who work in my department, who I know pretty well, everyone else is solely thought of in terms of how they relate to my job.

Let me insert, parenthetically, (you like that, don’t you) that my job is computer support. Yes–I’m the one who tells you, “Reboot and try again.” I’m the one who tells you, “Hang on a moment, I’ll recreate the printer,” or “I’ll clear the flags, give it a minute and try again.”

Or worse. If you tell me, “The system cannot find the drive requested,” well, you don’t hear me hurl invective toward the heavens. You do hear me say, “I’ll be right there.”

In sum, as far as I’m concerned, you are your computer problems. (I’m using the royal “you,” obviously.)

This is the insight that came to me a few days ago. I work at a large, 24/7 resort. I know my co-workers and get on with them fine; but for the rest of the staff, they are, to me, how often they call about problems, how savvy they can be considered, how crucial their problems appear (to them, and to me).

I judge them, based on how they use their computers. Not on their appearance, their habits, their hobbies, their friends and families, their pets, their love of gadgets or what car they drive. No, no, to me, they are “What kind of PC problems do they have? And how often?”

I imagine a lot of personal interaction works this way. If you’re a doctor or an auto mechanic or a designer…other than very good friends, the people you know are sorted and arranged according to how they impact on your skills, how they use you as a resource.

(As an aside, I recall seeing my doctor at a supermarket once. I waved and said Hi, and he got a sick look on his face which seemed to say, He’s going to ask me about medical problems. I didn’t, of course, because the same thing happens to me. I hate parties and never go, but if I’m trapped I hate mentioning my line of work. “Hey, you work on PCs? Well, my internet connection seems really slow…” or “I’m thinking of buying a laptop, what would you recommend?” Or the worst one. “I bought [item known to be a total piece of crap] and it doesn’t seem to work…” You can imagine my smile becoming fixed and skull-like.)

Back to the issue at hand, it must be noted that, of course, the reverse is true as well. People look upon you as a resource to be used, depending on your skills and their needs.

This is probably how societies form. So-and-so is a good hunter-gatherer, What’s-his-face is a good arrowhead maker, Whosis can talk to the gods pretty well…I’ll give What’s-his-face a gift basket of various cheeses if he’ll make me some new arrowheads. Meanwhile, what’s his face looks up to see who’s approaching his cave and thinks, Damn, I bet he lost all his arrows again. Crap. Looks like another basket of gift cheeses. Thank goodness the missus likes ‘em. This is probably also how societies tend to develop rigid roles for people; there are only a few resources to go around, so use and access have to be secured through rules.

Fast-forward a handful of millennia. We’ve got specialized positions all over the map, people who do things I can’t imagine and probably can’t spell. Two of these people meet. Their respective skills are irrelevant to the other. What happens? Do they have no common ground to interact upon, and thus move apart? Or does this lack of intrinsic need mean they can become best friends?

I honestly don’t know. I do know that intertwined spheres of usage can bring people together, but the level of usage keeps the relationship from becoming anything other than supply-demand. There’s a limited resource that both are trying to use, and the relationship can become one of vying. Just take a drive and notice how angry you get at the other drivers who aren’t going fast enough, are hogging the left lane, don’t use turn signals, etc. I think this is because we perceive that the resource—time on the road—is not being used properly by these people; we could make much better use if they weren’t there. Also, they are jerks.

On the other hand, a lack of commonality—two people who are not sharing a resource–can make the relationship brief, since no common resource can mean no common interest. But does it have to? The people who have no shared skill-range…neither needs what the other has…how do they come together in the first place?


Like I said, I don’t know. It may be that I’m a right bastard and that is the sole root of the matter. What can you do? Reboot, and call back if it’s still a problem.


2 thoughts on “Time Divided by Work

  1. My comment section loves you.

    “The people who have no shared skill-range…neither needs what the other has…how do they come together in the first place?”

    Hopefully it’s because they WANT the other person there.
    Also, sex.
    Being someone who has the sex drive of a 17 year old, virgin, porn addicted male that’s pretty much all I really ask for.
    Well, sex and lawn mowing service. Which can sometimes be one in the same.

  2. I used to feel the same way when I was a Systems Administrator. Back then, I lived in the confines of the island of Okinawa. So you can imagine the millions of opportunities to be “attacked” for my computer knowledge in that relatively small community. Now, I supervise about 100 techs and support people for a large company. These days, I sincerely feel like I’m relating to people as they pertain to my job environment and how they “tap into” me and my profession.

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