My son was sent home early from work today.
“Spill it,” I ordered.
My son is a straight-A student – a peach in the humanities, working in a job calling more for the precise technical skills of a turnip.
Oh, you know what I mean.
My son would be the first to admit that he’s better at writing papers than following complicated procedures that change on a regular basis.
He’s a man of words working where much is assumed and few things are written down. He’s in a place where procedural initiative is not encouraged, but procedural questions are not encouraged either.
My son often finds it confusing.
It’s been a particularly stressful week. There’s a ton of work, the pressure is mounting, and everyone has been making mistakes. The supervisor has been upset with everyone – but especially with my son.
My son bitterly hates making mistakes, even though mistakes are part of the learning process.
My son’s supervisor, meanwhile, tells him mistakes are unacceptable, but often forgets that it is a supervisor’s job to provide enough training (and supervision) so that fewer mistakes are made.
Welcome to the real world, my son.
Ulysses Grant at Cold Harbor (from the National Archives)
Thing is: it’s a job, when many people don’t have one.
Moreover, this job is paying for my son’s college text books and other expenses. It’s not a great fit, and he won’t work there forever, but he needs to work there now.
Using his non-technical but super-charged brain therefore, my son decided to come up with some solid ideas tonight about how he can improve his performance, and plans to present them to his supervisor tomorrow. Chin held high.
Thatsa my boy!
RE the old photo at left: My son told me about it during our conversation today — noting also that my father has a copy of it hanging in his home office. It is a portrait of Ulysses S. Grant, taken during the Civil War Battle at Cold Harbor.
Cold Harbor was the lowest point of General Grant’s career. Thousands of Union soldiers lost their lives in a hopelessly lopsided battle against the Confederates.
It was a battle Grant regretted for the rest of his life.
Nevertheless, mistakes and all, Grant still outmaneuvered Robert E. Lee in the end and won the war. My son hopes to win this “career” thing in the end, too.
I think he will.