Three parts. Not musical, though.
Part 1: The Absence
Admittedly I had blogs I wrote in my head during these last few weeks. Well, okay, not “written” but had the gist of them hammered out during the work day. I’d get home, often exhausted, and would look at the blank web browser. I’d think, “Should I go to the blog and hack out a few paragraphs?” “Naw,” I’d then think, “I don’t want to get into it.”
“It” being talking about life. “It” being talking about work. There are those from work who read this here blog in ones and twos, to be sure. Not that I had anything bad to say about people—it doesn’t get a person anywhere to bash people outright, especially from under the skirt of the Internet (yes, she’s a lady and she’s sexeh). It’s just the whole conundrum about writing about work. Should I? What else should I write about, then? Work has kind of been most of my life. I don’t have any exciting hobbies. I can only try to play softball (note to self, write post about softball).
What else is there to write about other than work? Social media theory? Ha! I hardly get any chance to read, let alone comment on that sort of stuff now that I’m in corporate America. There’s too many meetings to go to. And, honestly, when I get home, logging in to Google Reader and seeing the 1,200,000+ unread items is depressing. I’ve heard others talk about that. It’s one of those features I think actually dissuades people from using Google Reader. Maybe I should write a note. Like they could flip the feature around and talk about how the two posts I read today was a full 100 percent more (ZOMG w/ exclamation point) than the previous day’s reading. That sort of thing might get me out of bed in the morning in the hopes of getting around to Google Reader right before I get back into bed.
So all that to say, by the time a few days got between me and blogging, the gap sort of fed itself. It was like seeing how long it took for a flickering candle to eventually sputter out, or a car to run out of gas. Ok I don’t do that. Maybe not that example. Or it was like seeing the sun fully slip under the horizon. Better, yes. I watched it, saw the days compound and sort of just let things go.
Pretty bad of me, right? Well, that’s the thing about the Internets, people are jerks.
Part 2: The iPad
So, as an impulse, I bought an iPad a couple of weeks back. Don’t think I did it to prove I was alive or whatever shopaholics claim is the muse for their condition. I just sort of decided to buy one. For me, the build-up was a two day process. I heard how frikkin’ amazing the damn things were from clergy, coworkers and nature itself (Dreamed about an otter using an iPad. That was my sign. Otters, dude. Yeah.). I arrived at work the next day, decided to get one and bought one that evening.
Didn’t make a big production out of it. I didn’t make an announcement. Didn’t update my Facebook status. Didn’t see the need to really call it out. I guess part of that was my embarrassment at claiming I would not get one—that I already had a Kindle, a laptop and a will to live, so an iPad just didn’t do anything for me. And yet, maybe I needed a new type of will to live. Maybe I needed a media consumption “will to live”. I heard an iPad would reinvigorate my love for interacting with rich content—which itself sounds both intriguing and revolting in a “is this where I am in life?” sort of way.
Now, for my remaining two readers’ (hi Mom, Dad!) benefit, iPads are a pretty big deal where I work. We are a company that is absolutely infatuated with hip buzzwords like “innovation”, “synergy”, “thought leaders”. And our hearts are in the right place, but sometimes it’s a bit much. We develop apps for iPhone and iPad like it’s our job…which it is, but regardless, our company has an almost unhealthy love and indirect endorsement for Apple products. iPhones and iPads are handed out to leadership and select managers/leaders like candy. Scores of directors, VPs, AVPs, SVPs, EMGs, DSKWEs, EWKWOIJGDOSDIs and whatever else walk around the building with their issued iPhones, iPads and wax eloquent on how their lives have morphed into living technological haiku, all because of the tech-kensei status bequeathed to them from the very POSSESSION of such implements of awesomeness. The ‘tic tic tic tic’ of iPad keystrokes is a five point palm exploding heart technique on my soul!
So of course I wanted one! JEEEZ!
And it is pretty cool, except for the part where I may not be allowed to use it at work. We’re reeeeeeeeeally sensitive about keeping all corporate things confidential. Not to be confused with military intelligence classification. I have a government clearance. That’s easy breezy. They just hand those out. Doesn’t count. Our policies are moar hardcorez! Nothing can be trusted!
So I may be asked to not ever bring in my personal iPad to work at some point. Which is a bummer, since all the cool leaders and managers and anyone worth a damn have theirs to get ahead in life. The plebes fail.
Part 3: The End
Of the post. Ah, that was cheap, wasn’t it? Okay, scratch that.
New Part 3: The Beginning
As you may or may not know (again, to my readership…Mom, Dad), I was hired at my current gig to be the chief blogger, senior community manager and corporate conversationalist. Fancy words for “Guy who writes, trains and empowers others to participate in social media.” Dunno if all that will come to pass. There’s an awful lot of day-to-day grind stuff that needs doing. And new stuff shows up every day—all that “life” and “news” stuff that bubbles up. So, there’s no real way to get on top of it.
There is hope, though.
There’s an unfilled position for someone to be the “communities and collaboration” leader…which, to those paying attention, sounded exactly like the job I was hired to do. This one will get paid a lot more money, though, so I’m hoping maybe I’ll be under that person? Or maybe I’ll be reassigned? Regardless, one way or the other, I won’t have to fret about not doing the job, because I’ll either be doing it for the person it charge of it or letting someone else do it. There is a third option, to be revealed by God’s providence, but those are the cards I have at the moment. Pocket threes and someone raised before the river. Jerks.
And, as a parting shot, please don’t take the cynicism for unhappiness. That’s just my shtick. I’m cool with whatev. I’m happy not babysitting troops—not worrying they’ll get swindled at pay-day loan spots, not get tossed in the slammer, not piss hot, not lose accountable equipment. I do miss the manager/leader stuff sometimes, and look forward to the day when I can be a leader in the normal world and not have to counsel someone for being the “phantom pooper.” But for the moment, I’m fine with life sans fecal crises.
Corporate life and the new civilian
It’s something that gets a lot of cheers and jeers. Some people celebrate the free market, the captains of industry, all that jazz. Some people lament the cubicles, the Office Space and Dilbert characters that seem to be everywhere.
And, like most things, the truth is somewhere in the middle. Things aren’t so amazing that I soil my pants with joy every hour. Things aren’t so bad that I’m vitamin D deficient from the life-siphoning fluorescent lights.
A few military friends have asked what it’s like. I went into a bit of what it isn’t a couple of posts back, where I talked about all the ways I didn’t have to stay on edge. So this time, I’ll get into a little bit of what it is.
Now, I do need to qualify some things. I’m not in full-blown corporate America, as much as people seem to slap that label on every circumstance they are personally in—like how troops say they’ve “been to war” whether they were in the Korengal or lounging poolside in Qatar. Are both extremes closer to war than those at Starbucks? Yes. Am I so deep into corporate America that I can claim to know what it’s all really like? Not really.
So, that said. It’s pretty cool, from a guy who tries to take things in stride. A lot of movie and comic stereotypes are here. I guess that’s why all those movies are so funny.
There are the people who live in total fear that their every move is watched.
There are those who have been around the company for a decade or two, working themselves to the bone, but always in ways that create more burdens for themselves without getting ahead.
There are the meetings…lots of meetings…lots. I have five hour-long meetings today alone. Geez.
There are the power walkers in the halls. There are the gym guys who say “boss”…or is it “hoss?” Dunno.
There is the aversion for all things provided. Eating at the cafes is so passé for some. Screw that, there are like five different cafes here! I’m hungry!
There are motivational banners up. There are core values and virtues posted on all the walls like some recruiting drive.
There are coupons! Cell phone belt holsters. I’m asked to focus my efforts on what is good for the member.
People laugh. They like being around people who laugh. There are the fashion conscious and those (especially guys) who need a couple of issues of GQ.
All to say it seems pretty “normal” from a guy who is new to “normal.” I like it, but I’m at a different point in life.
Already there have been a few projects that have come up where my coworkers flip into full freak-out mode because of some perceived need or expectation from higher ups.
It’s EXACTLY the attitude that followed generals around. There would be the “good idea fairies” who would create a crap-ton of work for the average Joe, all to anticipate unstated needs by the big bosses.
So, being a former NCO who has seen this scurrying-around-for-no-reason hundreds of times, I just get a soda and let people freak out. Once they settle down, I’m able to ask questions like “Did she say she wanted it three weeks early? No? Then why are we thinking she does? Ah, she’s going on vacation next week? Did someone ask if we could send it to her while on vacation? No? Let’s do that.” Turns out the boss would love a one-way-one-time update on the status of the big project. Problem solved.
So, corporate America? Sure, it works. I don’t let the small stuff hang me up. Five hours of meetings? No prob. Paycheck still goes through whether I’m working or listening to people talk all day. Doesn’t bother me at all.