Rides and Monkey Poop

“I’m in the process of getting over myself,” I told the small band of do-gooders sitting around me.

It was my weekly meeting of advisors for my Building Emergency Response Team (BERT) program and we were discussing deployment of our website.  This website isn’t a new idea, nor is it a new product; it’s just something that hasn’t been in our control and hasn’t been properly maintained

Years ago, I asked for access to the site so I could make sure the data relevant to my buildings was kept current.  I was told I would have it and then the matter died there with no fulfillment or follow through.  The site remained out of date and the person whose job it was to maintain it, the person who, coincidentally enough holds the title of “systems administrator”, couldn’t be bothered to keep up with it and wouldn’t post the updated information in a timely manner.  No one seemed to care about this, besides me… and my 230 “clients” who utilize the information that was chronically out of date.

My little band of helpers and I started looking for another way to make this information available.  My company has its own “Facebook” type site on the intranet and we set up a group for the BERT program, but the information we were discussing, that needed to be readily available and easy to find, would get lost on that site as newer items were added and pushed that information further down the page.  Not everyone on my council is as jaded as I am.  Some of them still hold the mistaken belief that things can be done properly around here.  They wanted me to ask for access again.  I explained to them that I had done so more than once and that the end result is always run-around and disappointment and it’s reached a point where no one wants to listen to me about it any longer.  The perception is that I’m the rabble-rouser, troublemaker and that the Systems Administrator is doing nothing wrong.  So some of the more optimistic participants of the group took it upon themselves to contact my boss’s boss on my behalf and request the access for me.

Somewhat to my surprise, no one got upset that it was requested.  No one came down on me for stirring things up, or for sicking my “underlings” on them.  A week or so later, I got a simple e-mail with a user name and password and a link to the administrative portion of the site, ironically hosted on WordPress.

On closer examination, however, I discovered that the site I had been given access to was an entirely new site.  The old site had not been on WordPress and the decision had been made to move everything over for easy of use.  As I perused the information that was available, I discovered that none of the properties that I work with were included in the site.  No pages even existed for my properties.  Nearly a week later, I got an e-mail from the Systems Administrator asking me to let him know when I had time to talk (on the phone) so he could show me how I could create the pages.

I discussed this with my manager and the conclusion that we agreed on (shocking, I know) was that it is the Systems Administrator’s job to build the site; the only thing I had ever wanted was the ability to keep the downloadable documents up to date.  My manager sent an e-mail to the Systems Administrator and CC’d me asking him to create the pages for our buildings so that I could update the documentation.  His response?  “The pages are created, Kevin just needs to copy and paste them from the other buildings.”  My manager didn’t respond and no additional action was taken until a couple of days ago when I sent him my own e-mail and copied my boss saying, “Can you tell me when the pages for my buildings will be created so that I can add the documents to them?”  His response, once again, was to tell me to let him know when I was available so he could tell me how I could create them.

Now, rationally speaking, I realize that it’s not going to be all that difficult for me create the pages and customize them to my buildings.  I realize that it will get the job done more quickly and my cohorts and I can get on with our project.  Ultimately, I understand that it’s the thing to do.  It makes more sense, I suppose, at least to most people, and it would be a lot easier on me, just to go ahead and do the work and get on with my life.  I get that… Really.

But the problem is, I can’t bring myself to do it, at least not yet.  I have such an egalitarian perspective on life that it stops me being able to shrug my shoulders and go on with the work.  I believe so strongly in right and wrong, fair play, that it hurts me to do something that I feel violates that sense.  I see it as a much bigger picture than just me getting my website built.  Here is a person who doesn’t do his job and pushes it off on other people.  A person whose customer service (and we are his customers) sucks.  He makes no effort to understand his customers’ problems, he doesn’t communicate his answers clearly and he doesn’t do what’s asked of him, by the customers he serves, in anything like a timely manner. 

And no one does anything about it!!!

Something needs to be done, and of course I realize, I’m not the one to do it.  No one will listen to me; I’m only one man.  Only then the thought comes to mind, “Martin Luther King, Jr. was only one man.”  Except, I guess he wasn’t only one man once he actually accomplished something.  He was a leader of many men and women who believed in his cause and followed his example.  Something I’m not going to be able to do here and in this situation.

I have yet to convince myself that my creating these web pages isn’t an endorsement of this persons behavior, and while this is a simple and small thing for me to do and only a small part of his job, it literally makes me ill and angry to consider doing it for him.  I mean, literally, I can feel tears burning behind my eyes just thinking about it.

How do I make this rational knowledge of simplifying my own existence translate into a psychological peace with performing the act?  I do not know!  Because it’s not fair!

K’s father has a saying, “A fair is a place you go to ride the rides and step in monkey poop.”  (Actually most of his dad-isms involved poop in one way or another.)

I wish I could figure out how to reconcile the knowledge of what has to be with my reality of its wrongness…

I’m still in the process of getting over myself.

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Dreaming

I work for a company that purports itself to be big on diversity.

Actually, I guess I shouldn’t say it that way.  We rank 90% on the Human Rights Campaign‘s 2012 Buying for Workplace Equality guide.  The company provides Domestic Partner benefits, financial benefits for adoption services.  We allowed same-sex couples to visit their spouses in the hospital before it was federally mandated.  Our physicians are trained and encouraged to respect other cultures and their alternative belief systems in regard to medical care.  Periodically, we are required to attend sensitivity and cultural diversity awareness training.  So, I guess they are pretty big on diversity.

It is for this reason, that I find it fascinating that I AM NOT OFF WORK TODAY.  What the hell, man!?!?  I think if the mail doesn’t run and the bank is closed and kids are out of school, I should not have to work either.  Whatever.

The truth is, I think the significance of this “holiday” is lost on a lot of people, these days anyway, and as the time goes on, it will be lost on more and more people.  Not because Martin Luther King Jr. doesn’t matter.  Not because what he did for this country isn’t invaluable, but because as time goes on and we age, it’ll be harder and harder for the surviving members of our population to imagine what this country was like before MLK did his thing.

I remember learning about Martin Luther King, Jr. in school.  I remember the first time I heard the “I have a dream” speech:

I have a dream that one day…little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I looked around my classroom at the faces of the non-white boys and girls in my classroom and I thought, “how could it ever have been different.”  Certainly I was naive, but I couldn’t imagine a world where people were mistreated for their differences.  It’s funny how things change.

In my book, there’s a scene when Calvin (the lead character who is in no way based on my own existence and any similarities that may exist are entirely coincidental – *whistle, whistle, whistle*) has gone home to visit his family for Thanksgiving.  His sister Haley picks him up from the airport and as they are chatting on the way to their mother’s house, she tells him she’s dating a black man and “mom doesn’t know.”  It was something Calvin should not, and would not want to, tell their mother.

In reality, my sister did briefly date a black man in college and she never told my mother he was black, largely because of her reaction when our older brother dated a black woman when he was in college.  Our mother insisted, and for the most part, I really do believe, that she is not prejudice, that she doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with interracial relationships, she would just rather her children not engage in them “because of the hardships you’ll endure because of them.”  The fact that my brother’s girlfriend was also, “a witch” and that her brother turned out to be gay (while attending a Christian University), were certainly not points in her favor…

I can’t help but wonder what my mother’s reaction would be if I ended up married to a black man.  Would that be two strikes against him, or has even she progressed enough not to care about race any longer.  The fact that he would be male, would be problem enough for her.

Anyway, a world where black people were not treated as a welcome and equal member of society was just unimaginable to me in my naive, teen years.  I didn’t think discrimination existed in this country any longer…  And then I realized I was gay and it was a whole new ballgame.  But that’s a different story.

I knew my commute would be light today and I was glad for that; I was running late yet again!  As I rounded the corner to the parking garage entrance I thought how nice it will be for the garage not to be so full for once.  Once again, naiveté rears its ugly head.  Nobody parks in this garage but employees of the company for which I work.  Today is not a holiday at the company for which I work.  The garage was as full as ever.

At lunch, I had two errands to run; buy cat food and pick up a library book that’s on hold for me at the branch by my house, four miles away.  I bought the cat food first, three miles in the opposite direction…

So like I was saying, if the mail doesn’t run and the bank is closed and kids are out of school and the library is closed, I should not have to work either.

Whatever.