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Friday, July 12, 2013

A Veritable Well of Untapped Potential

Another repost whilst my wrists heal, from 2009...

You wouldn’t know it to look at me now, but I was a straight-A student. No, really! Spelling? No problem. Math? Yep. Science, philosophy, music? You bet.

And so what? Spellcheck has relieved us of the need to spell it correctly in the first place. Calculators are on everything from phones to, well, calculators. Science comes in handy during Trivial Pursuit and while watching Cash Cab, philosophy makes me a thoughtful and open-minded drunk, and my music knowledge – well, again with the Trivial Pursuit.

I made a mistake in not going directly from high school to college.

And I made a mistake in learning to type.

This is probably going to blow your mind, so you may want to brace yourself against a large bit of furniture, but I type like the freakin’ wind.

Cool, huh?

No. Not really. Because once it’s been discovered that you’re good at something, suddenly, no matter where you are, if there's a need for a typist, no one else in the room can do it.

“Could you just do the typing? I type with two fingers. It’ll go so much faster if you do it.”

A number of years ago we had a college student, an intern, at work. Nice guy, probably 22 or so. He was young and unblemished and wore earnest business casual sweaters with khaki pants. We called him “Intern Boy” in our discussions of him over the lunch hour.

I wouldn’t say he and I were friends. But we were colleagues; and at work, that’s enough, don’t you think?

He stopped by my desk one day.

“Hey,” he said.

I looked up from the report I was furiously typing. Could I get a 25-page report typed and proofread in an hour? My boss had seemed to think so.

He placed a pile of papers on my desk. “I’m going to need these faxed by the end of the day.”

I frowned slightly. “You are, huh?”

“Um,” he said. Was I one of those saucy, quirky secretaries he had seen on prime time TV? He wasn’t sure.

I cocked my head slightly and continued to look at him.

“I don’t know how to fax,” he said.

“It’s easy,” I said. “You see that machine over there? You put the papers, face-down, in the feed. Then you punch the fax number in on the keypad and press the big green button.”

He didn’t move.

Perhaps he hadn’t noticed that the fax machine tutorial was over.

"So voila,” I concluded. “Fish and chips.”

He smiled flirtatiously. “Oh, come on. I’ll just mess it up if I do it,” he said coyly. “I’m sure you do it better than I ever could.”

I thought about the As, the gold stars. I thought about the Pythagorean Theorem, my interest in Russian literature, about how great I had been on those Word Find puzzles in elementary school.

I sighed. Whatever he had been studying the last four years, there had not been time spent on office equipment – or office etiquette.

“I support four of the people on this floor,” I said. “I’m sorry, but you’re not one of them. You’re going to have to learn to operate the fax machine for yourself.”

And I went back to typing.

Poor Intern Boy. He walked over to the fax machine, and I lost track of what he was doing. In a small pique of remorse - and having been reminded earlier in the year that I needed to work on being "more warm and fuzzy", I hoped he had taken my instructional statements as simply and as directly as I had phrased it.

There was a large frosted cookie on my desk the next morning.

“Thanks for the Advice,” it said.

Good ol’ Intern Boy.


Jacquelineand.... said...

Good Intern Boy, he gave you a cookie!

Eva Gallant said...

It was sweet of him to give you a sweet!

Pearl said...

Good ol' Intern Boy.

More people should offer us sugar and carbs as thank yous, don't you think?!

Gigi said...

I am of the opinion that you don't have to be warm and fuzzy to those who try to pass their work off on you. But once they bring you offerings of cookies - well, then I guess you have to be a little bit warmer and fuzzier.

joeh said...

Getting other people to do your work is a fine art. It is usually done best by people that look good in a suit.

vanilla said...

Good ol' Pearl. Did the right thing and made a better worker of Intern Boy.

Simply Suthern said...

I turned into the resident Purchase order generator. Then my boss found out. Now I am productive again.

Yamini MacLean said...

Hari OM
Oh yeah I know that one, being the office technotypowhizzokidster may seem like a good idea at the time...

It gave me Chronic Fatigue Syndrome even before it had a name (remember 'yuppie flu'?). I was the one who was actually managing the logistics of the place, he was the one getting the 6-fig salary. That was the beginning of the end of corporate for me...

Keep healing. YAM xxx

jenny_o said...

Sometimes it is hard to tell the difference between a thank-you frosted cookie and an apology frosted cookie ... sometimes it's both ...

Daisy said...

It appears he just needed a little encouragement. :)

Indigo Roth said...

Smart lad x

jabblog said...

Your lesson was well-learned by Intern boy:-)

Geo. said...

Renaissance woman! Wise to be wary of frivolous work demands, wary of cookies. When I worked, I let it be known I respond well to wine, trout and apple pie. Requests for favors dropped off, but those that remained were true co-worker (capital hyphen) compatriots.

Sioux said...

You were much nicer than I would have been. I think intern boy would have taken out a restraining order on me instead of buying me a cookie if it had been me.

River said...

A frosted cookie is a lovely way to say thank you.
I've missed so many posts here, I'm going to have to come back tomorrow and catch up.

Jennifer A. Jilks said...

Take care. Happy to read a repost!
Cheers from Cottage Country!

Dawn @Lighten Up! said...

It's a rare man (or intern boy) who will admit he's wrong.
It's a rarer man (or intern boy) who will admit he's wrong with frosting.