Uncle Roger's Notebooks of Daily Life

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Roger the Wanker

I have a co-worker who is, basically, a bully. He's rude too, but that's another story. Unfortunately, I have had the dubious pleasure, as of late, of having to work directly with him.

A week or so ago, we were testing some client-server functionality; he had done the client side and I had made changes to the server. We found an issue on the server side so I went off to fix it. It was a quick fix and I walked back to his cubicle to have him test it. As I approached, he began chanting in a sing-song voice "Roger the wanker, Roger the wanker" over and over again.

It's not, I feel certain, that he dislikes me any more than any one else in the office; it's that he dislikes himself. By denigrating others, he makes himself feel better about himself. This, of course, is classic bully behaviour.

He also has the need to appear as an expert in everything. When there is a problem with the system, his immediate thought is that it must be my fault -- "What did you do now?" Last week, I came to invite him to a meeting with two of the company partners regarding the break-up of an extremely large program (which he had largely written but I had now taken over) into smaller, more manageable modules. When I told him the topic of the meeting, his response was not "I'll be right there", but instead, "Why would you want to do that?"

Such a response implies strongly that what I was proposing was a Very Bad Idea. It puts the other person on the defensive and sets up an antagonistic relationship from the start. The proper response (the adult response, if you will) would be "that's an interesting idea, let's discuss it." Even if he was wholly against the idea, such a response sets up a cooperative relationship where he can then provide reasoning to support his views. It makes the other person infinitely more receptive to his opinions whereas in an antagonistic relationship, the other person would never even hear his ideas, let alone consider them.

As it was, the partners wanted it broken up, so after repeatedly telling him that it was going to be done, he begrudgingly acquiesced and provided the information I needed -- well, some of it anyway.

His need to be the expert is not limited to programming. He seems to have to cover up his inadequacies in many areas. Photography is one of them. I've taken a lot of pictures over the last three years and I have a lot of pictures around my cubicle. So one day, last week, this guy comes around and peers at one of the photos. He then proceeds to offer his advice.

According to him, I should have had the flash on when I took the picture in question to avoid the faces being in shadow. In fact, he went on, I should always have the flash on, to avoid such issues. Obviously, I've been doing it all wrong, all along.

Mind you, I'll be the first to tell you that I'm a picture taker, not a photographer. I just happen to be lucky in that I have a great camera and even better subjects. Still, I'd like to think I've learned a few things in the last few years. After all, I will hit ten thousand (10,000) photos with this camera in the next month or two. So I'll be taking his advice with a massive dose of salt.

First off, I didn't take the picture. I know it's hard to tell, but since it's a picture of Jared and I on top of a mountain in the Sierras, there might just be a clue in the picture somewhere. Second, and admittedly, not knowing the details of the picture -- the camera, the location, etcetera -- he couldn't have known this, the built-in flash would have done no good whatsoever. The camera was at least twenty feet away (it has an 8x optical zoom) and the flash would not have lit up our faces any more than they already were on that bright sunny day.

Furthermore, having the flash on all the time is more likely to wash out more pictures than it helps. That, however, is typical of the advice offered by such people. The helpfulness of their commentenary is not important; what matters is that they can point out how you are wrong and they are right. I guess it all comes down to insecurity.

Journal Description

My life is, to me, ripe with frequent challenges, occasional successes, spontaneous laughter, adequate tears, and enough *life* to last me a lifetime. To you, however, it surely seems most pedestrian. And therefore, I recycle the name I used previously and call this my Notebooks of Daily Life. Daily, because it's everyday in nature, ordinary. These conglomeration of events that are my life are of interest to me because I live it, perhaps mildly so to those who are touched by it, and could only be of perverse, morbid curiosity to anyone else. Yet, I offer them here nonetheless. Make of them what you will, and perhaps you can learn from my mistakes.