Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Not Enough Rats' Asses in Detroit

Well, actually, there probably are.

When I first started working at Crazyland Corpus, I helped a consultant who was working on an assessment for the City of Detroit. They were in the market for a new website design, looking for advice on how better to attract site visitors and convert them, poor saps, into real visitors.

The existing website had links on the home page for residents and business owners in addition to their promotional material. One of the questions in the residents' FAQ, just one step down in the navigation, was "Who do I call to complain about a rat infestation?"

We advised them that this was not Best Practices.*

"Best Practices" was a phrase that got tossed around a lot by our sales staff, i.e. everyone except for the seven or eight peons who actually designed, programmed, or otherwise did stuff. "Industry Best Practices dictate that you should..." we'd begin, then either go on to recommend whatever it was we'd been told to sell that day, or dissuade a client from something that we didn't know how to implement. Once, after I'd worked there a year or so, one of the account managers actually found a definitive list of our Best Practices filed away in a subfolder of a subfolder on one of the network drives. We read them with glee, and forwarded them out to the senior sales consultants we worked under, who had been completely unaware that such a document existed.

What's funny about all this is that I hated that job so much, by the time I left, that I spent much of every day in tears; but I couldn't stop giving rats' asses, handing the damn things out like they were going out of style. I cared that I was on the crazy president's** shit list. I cared that the senior consultant*** I worked with didn't think I could schmooze clients****. I cared that I was giving the web designers***** more work than they could handle. I couldn't quit caring. I couldn't sleep nights.

Work is much less stressful when you don't give a rat's ass, though this is not the solution I'd recommend. (Best Practices dictate you find a job that you can care about, but which won't drive you completely up the wall.)

My guest speaker for the November safety meeting on Monday, a local "personality," verbally confirmed on two separate occasions about a month ago, but has not responded to emails or returned phone calls since. We've already notified attendees to expect him. My boss is panicking.

But I can't find that I really care. I checked out a safety video on the same topic he's supposed to cover, in case he doesn't show up, and notified the panicmonger that we have something to fall back on if the speaker doesn't come. Speakers have no-showed before, and this is just an internal presentation for a handful of construction site workers, to satisfy occupational safety requirements. It's not that big a deal.

"It will be a big disaster if he doesn't show," she wrote back, cc'ing my coworker, who knows the "personality," and who had approached him about speaking at our meeting. "Everyone is expecting him. Everyone is enthusiastic about him. The division head is coming to this meeting. Haven't you heard back from him yet???"

No. It's not a paid engagement; he agreed to do it as a favor. He doesn't owe us this. We've both called; we've both emailed. I guess he's busy. What does she expect us to do, squat down and produce the guy?

I read her email and shrugged. I just don't give a rat's ass. I appear to have run out, and I'm not planning to travel to Detroit to stock up anytime soon. It's not Best Practices.

*It's "Whom"
****Mostly quit
*****All quit

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