A Quiet Disposition March 31, 2012Posted by humbug27 in General, Life, opinions, people, thoughts.
Tags: Extraversion and introversion, life, observations, people, society
If you know someone with a quite disposition, appreciate them. Not everyone is comfortable in the spotlight. We don’t all seek to be the center of attention. For some people, talking comes as naturally as breathing, while others prefer to measure their words and choose carefully before they speak. Quiet people are often labeled as being shy, introverted, anti-social, and even weird. It’s unfortunate that such labels have become stigmas. The “extrovert,” however, is revered and honored in the format of our schools and workplaces. Students’ seats are neatly arranged in pods to encourage expression and the workplace relies heavily on networking and collaboration. While these skills are valuable in their own right, they aren’t the end all. What about people who work best alone? What about people who prefer to express themselves through writing? If they don’t conform, they will likely be ostracized. Conform or be rejected. Is that really the most effective way to encourage people to be their best? It’s ironic because we also value originality. That rare and refreshing person who doesn’t seem like another cog in the machine. Imagine if Albert Einstein had yielded to those who insisted there was something wrong with him. Of course there was something wrong with him; there is something wrong will all of us. The sooner we embrace this, the better.
The Aggressive Go-Getter March 29, 2012Posted by humbug27 in Company, Courtesy, Etiquette, General, Uncategorized, Work, workers.
Tags: co-workers, Organizations, workplace attitude, workplace behavior
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Most jobs involve interacting with people of multiple backgrounds and personalities. Some colleagues are easy to get along with, while others are simply a nightmare. It’s no secret that it takes quite a bit of skill to handle all of the idiosyncrasies found in the workplace. My nightmare co-worker is one I like to call the “aggressive go-getter.” This person expects everything to be done on their terms, regardless of circumstance. They aren’t sensitive to your time and the list of other responsibilities you have. They are completely comfortable overstepping their boundaries and telling you what you need to do and when. As this person once said to me after asking me to do something, “I don’t want to hear any excuses.” And if you happen to fall short of their mark, there will be hell to pay. This person is extremely pushy, fake, condescending, and obnoxious. She always has something repugnant to say and it never adds any value. She doesn’t care if everyone sees her as enemy. She feels completely justified in riding co-workers into the ground. In reality, she is killing morale and productivity with her suffocating approach. Confronting her directly is no use because she doesn’t listen to anyone. Speaking with her boss hasn’t worked either. My patience is running thin and diplomacy isn’t working. While I know that something needs to be done, I fear that time is running out.
Where Conventional Wisdom Fails March 17, 2012Posted by humbug27 in Company, conventional wisdom, General, Life, opinions, other, productivity, Uncategorized, Work, workers.
Tags: Company, Employment, Productivity, work, work ethic, Workforce
Conventional wisdom says that a higher rate of productivity is always better and that employees should try to be more productive workers. I don’t necessarily agree with this philosophy because it doesn’t always favor a highly productive worker. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that a strong work ethic is meaningless, but in some cases, it can work against you. For example, suppose that worker A and worker B, work for Company C. They both perform the exact same job for the same duration at the exact same pay rate. They are the only two people in their department and they’ve been with the company for the same amount of time. Let’s imagine that they work in a distribution center and their jobs consist of packing and shipping boxes. Each day, the men are required to meet a specific quota, which never changes (for sake of this argument). Since joining the company, they have managed to meet their daily quota without fail. If the workers were to miss their quota, they could lose their jobs. Consequently, both workers have an equal stake in the work. However, each worker does not produce the same volume of work.
Each day, worker A produces 20% more work than does worker B. All physical capabilities being equal, worker A is simply more productive. Yet, he makes the same wage as worker B because they perform the same job. In this case, I would say that worker A is penalized for being more productive. Oops, that isn’t supposed to happen. Suddenly, doing more work doesn’t seem like such a good idea. So, what advice would you give to worker A? Would you tell him to slow his pace because it’s unfair that he does more work for the same pay? The downside to that strategy is that he may lose his job if he slows down and misses quota. Of course, Worker A could ask worker B to increase his pace in order to meet worker A in the middle. That seems reasonable to me, but in that case, each person is pulling more weight that person B was originally. In the end, it would probably come down to worker A leaving the company in search of a better opportunity. Meanwhile, company C let’s him walk because they are cheap and refuse to pay their employees more money. They probably don’t realize just how valuable worker A was to their company in the first place. Like so many companies, they see a number on a balance sheet and completely disregard the actual value of the employee. If worker A leaves, it is completely possible that company C will hire someone to fill his spot and that person will not be as productive (at least in the short run). Meanwhile, person B will probably continue to work at his normal capacity, which will result in the company failing to meet the quota that was achieved when worker A was there.
In the end, company C loses because they failed to recognize that a job is more than an hourly dollar amount. It’s about value and recognizing workers who produce at a high level. Only when a company recognizes and rewards hard work are we justified in continuing to outperform our peers. Otherwise, it is a lost cause and it seems foolish to cost yourself in the name of pride. All that matters is that my example illustrates how it would be difficult to justify worker A continuing to work harder for the same pay. I do understand that my example illustrates an extreme set of circumstances. I am also not suggesting that a good work ethic is worthless. I believe that most of the time, good workers will eventually be recognized and rewarded, but this is not always the case. It is a reminder that we should try to look at things from different perspectives if we are to get the best picture.
The Bluetooth Wearing Mailman March 15, 2012Posted by humbug27 in Etiquette, General, opinions, Protocol, thoughts, Uncategorized, Work.
Tags: Bluetooth, cell phones, mailman, observation, opinions, standards, workplace behavior
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My mailman is always talking on his bluetooth headset when he delivers my mail. I don’t think it’s a coincidence either. He’s really loud too and I can hear him from inside my house. He’s actually startled me a couple of times. Sometimes I think he’s a stranger who’s about to kick my door in and ransack the place. I recently began to wonder if he’s breaking protocol with his cellphone chatter. In my opinion, he is. I may be alone here, but I don’t think he should be talking on his phone. Granted, I don’t supervise his entire route, but I suspect he’s doing plenty of talking throughout. Call it a hunch.
I understand that the argument can be made that it doesn’t matter because he works alone. However, whether he works alone or not, he’s still at work. Why should he be allowed to make personal calls at will? Most, if not all jobs, would rule it unsavory to make personal phone calls throughout the day. Why is being a mailman any exception? I don’t even know why it bothers me to be honest, it just does. I think it’s unprofessional and indecent in a way. Maybe it bothers me because I feel like standards in the workplace are slowly dissolving. It seems like the lines between our personal and professional lives are blurring. Oh, and let’s not forget the fact that you can’t tell who people are talking to when they walk past with their headsets in their ears. I find it to be pretty awkward when I acknowledge as though they’re talking to me, only to be ignored. Cast aside for the voice inside of their ear. It kinda makes me feel like I’m getting the short end of the stick…
A Clear Lack of Courtesy March 10, 2012Posted by humbug27 in Courtesy, Etiquette, General, Life, opinions, Patience, people, thoughts.
Tags: Courtesy, disrespectful, Etiquette, General, Inconsiderate, Manners, patience, Rudeness, waiting in line
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What does it mean to be courteous? One definition of the word courteous is: having or showing good manners; polite. Manners can be defined as: ways of behaving with reference to polite standards. Therefore, we can assume that a courteous person is someone who has good manners and behaves politely. By definition, it’s a pretty straightforward concept if you ask me. It doesn’t seem that difficult to accomplish. In theory, we could all be courteous people who are polite and considerate of others. However, we don’t live in theory; we live in reality. And in reality, there are lots of rude people who don’t give a damn about you, me, or the next guy.
My inspiration for this posting is a woman who I was recently behind at a fast food drive-thru. After this woman ordered, she pulled up just shy of the pay window and stopped. After about 3o seconds, I thought something was wrong with her car. Turns out, I was sadly mistaken my friends. Her car was fine; she just decided to stop and make a phone call. No problem, take your time… it’s not like there’s anyone behind you. Apparently she couldn’t talk and finish her transaction at the same time. Her phone conversation went on for over 2 minutes! That’s an eternity in drive-thru terms. Especially when you consider that she wasn’t waiting for ANYBODY! Now how do you think I reacted to this rude road blocker?
Did I yell at her from my window? No. Did I blast my horn until she moved? No. Did I push her car forward with mine? No. Did I drive off in a huff? No. I’ll tell you exactly what I did. I sat in my car and wondered who she was talking to. I wondered how long the call would carry on. I wondered what kind of phone she had. I wondered what was so important that she had to make that phone call. I kinda felt like I had a right to know. I wondered if she even noticed that I was behind her. I wondered if she wondered why I wasn’t honking. I wondered if she would have honked at me if we switched places. I wondered what food she ordered. I wondered if this was the first time she had done this. I wondered how long I would be willing to wait before I left. I sat there and wondered, patiently waiting for her. I was amused by her lack of courtesy. I couldn’t pull myself away. I had to see it to the end.
Contemplating the Trolley Problem March 3, 2012Posted by humbug27 in Ethics, Life, Philosophy.
Tags: Ethical dilemma, Philosophy, Thought experiment, Trolley Problem
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In the philosophy of ethics, there is a thought experiment called “The Trolley Problem.” This thought experiment is based on the following moral dilemma: Suppose you are on a train heading toward 5 people who are stuck on the tracks. The train cannot be stopped, only diverted to another track, where only 1 person is stuck. The good news is: you can control the trains path with a simple press of a button. The bad news is: someone will die no matter how you respond. The choice is yours: (1 lives, 5 die) or (5 live, 1 dies).
It seems logical to assume that most people would choose to push the button and spare 5 lives for the cost of 1. Of course, my assumption is based on the fact that we place equal value on each human life. However, this logic does not seem to follow, if the lone person set to die was your mother. In that case, I would expect that most people would sacrifice the five strangers to save their mother. Again, this seems like the obvious choice, but it contradicts the logic we applied in the first scenario. How is it that we can value the life of 1 person (our mother) over the lives of 5 people, in this case? I believe the deciding factor is the personal relationship that one has with their mother. People usually place a higher value on the ones we love the most. Now, the result may be different for someone who has a bad relationship with their mother. My point being that personal relationships affect the way we make ethical decisions.
And if we hold this to be true, then how many people are we willing to sacrifice for the sake of saving a loved one? Is there a limit? Is it 10, 100, or even a million people? I certainly don’t have an answer to that question; it’s up to everyone to decide for themselves, if possible. One of the things that makes our decision so difficult to predict is the fact that most of us have never experienced a scenario like this. We simply don’t have experience to draw on, only intuition, moral values, and limited amounts of information. What I find troubling is the fact that even the staunchest moral values can be betrayed under extreme circumstances.
The Toggi Bar Thief March 1, 2012Posted by humbug27 in Ethics, Life, other, people.
Tags: candy bars, Ethics, moral dilemma, opinion, responsibility, stealing, sweet treat, thief, Toggi, waiting in line
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Yesterday, I stopped at the video store after work to rent a movie. While waiting in line, I noticed the gentleman in front of me grab a candy bar from the candy kiosk, just feet away from the register. Within seconds of snatching his sweet treat, he tore the wrapper away and began to chow down. At that point I’m wondering why this guy is in such a hurry to eat his candy bar. He proceeded to make quick work of the sweet and finished the bar before advancing a single place in line. When he finished, he still had the wrapper in his hand and I was watching it like a hawk. The entire time he was eating the candy bar, I wondered if he was going to pay for it. Back and forth I debated in my mind. I decided that he wouldn’t pay (just a hunch). My suspicion was confirmed when he took the empty wrapper and casually tucked it into his coat pocket.
When it was his turn to pay, he calmly paid for his movie without uttering a single word about the candy bar. I thought to myself, “Seriously?” It was one of those moments when I fantasized about spearing the guy and revealing the empty wrapper, only to watch the cops haul him away. Yes, over a candy bar! It bothered me deeply, yet I didn’t confront the blockhead. Instead, I kept to myself and chose to let it be. I wonder why?
The Meijer Experience to Forget February 26, 2012Posted by humbug27 in Life.
Tags: checkout lanes, cost cutting, groceries, long lines, Meijer, meijer store, self checkout lane, shopping, stores
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It is well documented that we face many challenges as a nation. The economy is still in rough shape, the housing market is in tatters, and politicians remain gridlocked. The impending presidential election has political pundits in a frenzy, prognosticating about 2012 and beyond. People are concerned about the direction that our country is heading, and rightfully so. Many of us wonder when the economy will recover and put people back to work. I think these concerns weigh on all of our minds. Either directly or indirectly, we all feel the consequences of the new economy we live in today. Recently, I had an experience that illustrates my point.
As the story goes, my family and I decided to go to Meijer one evening to pick up a few household items. We arrived at around 6:30 p.m., unpacked the kids, and strolled toward the entrance. As we walked through the automated doors, a Meijer employee stood there and greeted my family. As we moved past her, we exchanged smiles and nodded our heads in acknowledgment. What seemed very insignificant to me at first, ended up being a big deal. It all occurred to me when we finished shopping and we headed to check out. Of the thirty checkout lanes at this Meijer store, only two of them had cash attendants working the register. Naturally these lines were filled with customers whose buggies were overflowing with merchandise. I could tell that the wait in one of these lines would be dreadfully long. My only other option was to use a self-checkout lane, which I absolutely despise! To make matters more challenging, my two youngsters were becoming restless. At that moment, I had to choose between the lesser of two evils: longer wait vs. self-service.
I decided to use the self checkout lane because I felt it would save me time and the circumstances dictated it. The trade-off was the extra work I had to do, scanning and bagging my own groceries. Why does there have to be a catch though? Can’t a giant corporation such as Meijer afford to have a few more employees working the registers, especially for the customer’s sake? The simple answer is yes, but they choose a different strategy. One that funnels customers to the self-scan machines because their only other option is to wait in unreasonably long lines. Sure, you could leave your merchandise behind and walk out, but who wants to do that after spending the time filling your buggy. The corporate logic at work is: “If we can train customers to scan and bag their own groceries, we save on labor costs.” “We want to keep our labor costs under control because that is the biggest expense a business has.” This is their thought process when they think about their business strategy. I find it ironic though, how Meijer can justify paying someone to stand at the door and smile at people, while customers are stuck waiting in long lines. Seriously Meijer, if you’re too cheap to add staff, I would much rather trade the awkward door greeting for another cashier. My shopping experience may start with a smile at the door, but it ends with me questioning if I’ll ever shop with you again. The lesson here is that corporate cost cutting often has a cost of its own. In this case, that cost is felt by the customer waiting in long lines or scanning and bagging their own crap. Despite my criticism, I’ve learned something of value from my experience. I will make my own business decision and shop elsewhere. As the old saying goes, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me…”
Under the Bus February 23, 2012Posted by humbug27 in Life.
Tags: disrespectful, people, personal accountability, responsilbilities, work
Lately, I’ve been wondering what happened to personal accountability? Over the years, I’ve encountered many people who are simply unwilling to take ownership of their responsibilities. They seem willing to do whatever it takes to protect their reputations. These same individuals also refuse to admit to making mistakes. One of their trademark tactics is to throw other people under the bus. You know, as a defense mechanism used to keep their self-worth intact. They accomplish this by lying, passing the buck, and acting oblivious when they are questioned about matters related to them. This type of behavior is extremely prevelant in the workplace. I’m willing to bet that most people have worked with someone who has a penchant for throwing their co-workers under the proverbial bus.
Personally, I’ve never understood the appeal of watching someone else take the fall for mistakes they didn’t make. Well, maybe when I was 8 yrs. old and I let my little brother take the heat for breaking my mom’s lamp (sorry bro). I guess I’ve always taken it for granted that adults should know better and be able to demonstrate a certain level of maturity. However, as I’ve gotten older, I realize that adults can be quite good at acting like little children. I think the cut throat behavior is magnified by the ultra competitive culture we live in. People are rabid when it comes to climbing the corporate ladder and trying to improve their standing in life. In theory, I don’t have anything against someone who is trying to make a better way for themselves. My issue is with those who try to get ahead at the expense of others. It’s disrespecful and inconsiderate. Just remember that getting to the top means nothing if you step on others to get there.