“Do you know what you just did?”
My wife is full of questions these days. She is out of work and driving me nuts.
“Probably,” I said (which was mere speculation, I rarely keep track of what I am doing).
“You just walked in a circle.”
I nodded in agreement. It sounded like something I would do.
“You walked down the hall then you turned around and came back. Now you are heading down the hall again. What are you doing?”
“You are wasting time, that is what you are doing.”
“It’s my time to waste,” I told her.
She shook her head no.
“You could working on the cupboards instead of walking around in circles,” she said.
I prefer to walk in circles. She prefers that I don’t – but to tell you the truth, I find walking in circles infinitely preferable to working on her long list of honey-dos. The latest project is refinishing the cupboards.
I don’t mind the work. What I mind is the pace. To me a project is something to savor and linger upon for as long as possible – least another project be lurking nearby. I like to take my time doing things – to be driven more by inspiration than schedule.
She disagrees, for her schedule is everything.
I shouldn’t complain. I knew what I was getting into when I married her. She works in management and supervising is what she does. She can’t help it; it is in her blood. When she sees something that needs to be done – her first instinct is to look for someone to do it. Since she has been laid-off that someone is me.
As a result, even though I am retired, I hate my job.
I am not alone, according to a Gallop poll, a full 70% of people say they hate their job – and what is the #1 reason for their discontent?
You guessed it: bad management.
I am not saying my wife is a bad manager because I know she is not. I have watched her at work and she does a great job. The problem is with me, I am lousy staff.
I am utterly impossible to supervise. I wander in circles. I nod off. I come in late, take a two hour lunch and leave early. I am completely disorganized and given the slightest opportunity, I will take everyone off task and lead them in circles.
But my employers have put up with it because I manage to accomplish what I set out to do, no matter how difficult or risky. I worked as a tech pioneer and pioneers by definition rarely know where they are going. They may wander in circles of uncertainty but will eventually tame whatever wilderness they find themselves in.
A good manager knows this and knows that the best thing they can do for some people is not to manage them.
I tried telling this to my wife.
She knows me. She knows what kind of person I am. She also know that if she ever wants to see her cupboards refinished, she needs to crack the whip.
“You need a job,” I tell her.
“I have one,” she says, “now quit wandering around and get busy.”
I hope she gets a real one soon.
Postscript: She has found a job – Thank God.