I miss the days when I used to travel light. When I threw clothes in a bag and drove away without six pounds of meds and compressors and nebulizers and CF-related paraphernalia. Luckily, this week’s business travel didn’t include an airplane flight where TSA agents’ main objective is to embarrass me by having me remove everything from my bags. I hate airplanes and air travel for so many reasons now. But again, I only had to drive this week. For that I’m thankful.
I had three days of meetings, many of which I had to lead. If I had a favorite moment it was the opening when we went around the room and introduced ourselves, stating our position, years of service and other standard information, ending with a question: “What’s your favorite vacation spot?” Lot’s of possible answers to that one. Islands and Disney were the most popular. I would have liked to answer “the hospital” because that’s where I spend most of my time outside of work. However, this would have raised eyebrows and revealed my secret identity, which is now known in HR but not to others.
I dream of winning the lottery because I’d live in a large house with a big yard, donate to CF research, and not worry about money and health insurance. I also dream of winning so I could stay at my job for a few weeks and say what I want to say. That’s right, I wouldn’t quit right away after winning. I would stay. But I wouldn’t want to hurt anyone with my words. That wouldn’t be sporting. Rather, I would like to quit playing the dance of being Switzerland, of using the most neutral of phrases and replies. I’d like to be blunt and not worry about making people feel like their idea was the best I’d ever heard. I’d like to hit a buzzer and say “average idea, you can do better.” Or tell my bosses that micro-managing sucks and we have a proofreader for catching typos. Management’s job is to avoid icebergs in our path, not visit the engine room to fix a spark plug.
I’d tell the guy who sits back in our meetings and looks for things to criticize to shut the fuck up. I’d tell him I don’t want to hear anything negative and to keep his pie hole shut for the duration of the meeting. End of story. If he wants to say something positive, great, speak up. However, if he wants to point out that under the harshest of deadlines and editing materials while I was in the hospital, that I could have used a different event on our timeline, well, he can kiss my ass. Because in the scope of life, it makes no difference. And perhaps that’s what irks me more than ever as my life nears its conclusion – so much of the time we spend at work is spent on trivial discussions. It’s not that the work doesn’t matter, it does. People matter. It’s how our time is spent that both fascinates and irritates me. In our quest to play nice in the sandbox, it takes longer to get to where we need to go.
And that goes to my lottery fantasy – saying what we want to say, not being mean to be mean, but stating it as we see it. Not being afraid to debate, or of healthy conflict without the constant fear of losing one’s job.
I’d also like to tell those who think that they deserve special recognition every time they do their job or work an extra 15 minutes at the end of the day that they are really doing just what they get paid to do. No one hired them to be average. Imagine interviewing for a job and stating that you’re going to do average work and want recognition every time you do great work. You’re paid to do a great job, asshole. Do it without the need for constant recognition that you’re doing your job well. The coolest cats, men and women, are the ones who do a great job and keep quiet about it. They don’ t need daily accolades. They have their own internal scoring system.
I think of my daughter and hope that she will work hard in life and find a career that makes her happy. I hope it’s one where she feels free to say what she wants to say. And I hope that opportunity exists by the time she grows up. I’m not sure it will.