August 24, 2006

Communityism Vs. Self-Reliance

While I will try to avoid bringing events from my work to this blog, today just bugged the hell out of me. Names have been changed to protect the innocent stupid.

I was working in a vent pulling out decade-old thicknet and, low and behold, a "Priority One" call for tech support to paged in. This isn't rare - at least once a week we get a mid-level manager that doesn't quite understand that his computer needs electricity to work, or a secretary who deletes some of the wrong data. It's usually a nice, quick fix - nearly nine out of ten issues we run into are OSI layer 1 problems : loose cords or no power - and you don't want either of the above waiting.

This specifical call came from a break room, which typically means some type of wireless connection problem. Today wasn't typical, and there weren't any laptops or PDAs in the break room.

Instead, I viewed a nice fire.

While The Company provides styrofoam cups and plastic spoons for our usage (praise the evil overlords and their free caffeine!), it's not unusual for these to be depleted by noon, and as a result, most people bring their own containers. One individual, faced with cold coffee and nothing but the insulating mug she brought and a microwave, decided to combine the three.

Metal, combined with plastic, in a microwave, can lead to some interesting results. This particular situation lead to a small fire which melted the cup completely, and lit several napkins also in the microwave, at least the parts that weren't wet from the drink.

I grabbed a plastic spork, parted the crowd staring at and debating the molten plastic, tossed the whole melted mess in the sink and turned on the water, then stumbled back to work.

So, other than the hidden lesson about keeping a knife concealed unless you need to use it, what's the point of this story? Putting metal in a microwave is a bad accident, but it's just an accident.

Two grown women and five grown men, all of whom had not only graduated from high school but also had a college degree of one form or another, when confronted with a problem with a simple solution, couldn't figure it out in the time it took me to cross half a building. The sort of puzzle that Wile E. Coyote figures out after a stunned two or three seconds. Why did this stumble them so?

I'm not a student of the human mind - I barely have one to call my own. These are smart people. They're certainly smart enough to figure this out. This is Ohio, far from a bastion of either political side, and there was no overwhelming disparity of gender or race. Why?

Communityism. Or, to be more exact, they stared at each other and all, at the same time, asked what the others thought would be a good idea.

When did self-reliance, the ability to solve your own damn problems and only asking for help after you've tried yourself, go the way of the dodo? Why is there this psychological need to disperse potential failure or success across the whole group?

Who started it? I'm sure the schools and both political parties had a part, but they're only means, not an end.

Can we stop this sort of thinking?


Blogger Benjamin said...

As to the question of whether you can stop this sort of thing, you can't.

About 10 years ago I was a janitor. It was called "maintenance specialist" or some other specious bullshit, but point in fact, I cleaned up spills, had to extract female hygiene products from toilets, and the like.

What I refer to as "blue lightning" occurred every couple of weeks. Some fucktard would put a burrito in foil in the microwave, see the blue lightning, freak out and page maintenance.

If you are waiting for personal accountability, you will be waiting until I'm dead. It's not politics, it's culture.

Have you ever noticed that people with political stickers on their cars, be it Democrat or Republican, drive like shit?

Best regards,

Monday, August 28, 2006 4:26:00 AM  
Anonymous Interested said...

Dude that is funny.

I run into the same things myself lol.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006 9:05:00 PM  

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