Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Larger Issues

I'll admit that my strong areas do not include interacting rationally with other humans. This admission allows me to admit some fault without needing to identify what it is that I do well.
It also explains my behaviour in the Help Desk training class last night.
One of the problems comes from a nebulous definition of the word "rational" and also "reasonable" as well as a clinical evaluation of what constitutes "yelling" and a lack of updating the list of "profanity" to encompass the linguistic updates our society has developed since the late 1950s.
Besides, sometimes people are just asking for it.
If you ask me.
Which, for the record it should be noted, they did not.
Anyway (as I explained to the Help Desk Manager) the larger issue comes down to biology.
While the movie title from the image is misleading in terms of era, the fact is (given fossil records, foot prints, and archaeological finds) modern humans have little if any physical difference than our mastodon-hunting ancestors.
These fur-wearing hunter/gatherers lived in a time when the food chain was a full-contact sport.
Adrenaline was more of a survival mechanism than an advertising buzzword.
Fight or flight was a daily way of life.
If you take that exact biology and cram it into a pair of khakis, you can easily see where Corporate America runs into issues.
We have been genetically programmed to attack each other in order to survive.
When confronted with corporate idiocy, the Human Resources preferred response is a reasoned discussion and some white boarded line drawings. Biology tells us (and I know I'm not just speaking for myself here) to smash the skull of the offending individual with a stone and (if it is nicer) take his cave.
My actual reaction tends to fall somewhere in the middle of these extremes, therefore I should be commended for having mastered my instincts.
But am I?
Oh hell no.
And the very reasonable answer I've just provided does not satisfactorily work as a reply to "What is your problem?" and "What, exactly, is wrong with you?" according to sources that may or may not matter. In fact, I can't get halfway through my "biology is at fault" explanation without some HR person telling me to "sign the form" for my "file" and "get the hell out of my office and get back to work -- Away from people for the love of all that is holy".
The forces at play here are hungry Smilodon-sized.
I'm doing the best I can to survive in an all too brutal world.
I may not be tracking giant elk across the tundra, but I.T. people get "left out on the ice" all the damn time.
We may have moved from simple huts made of foraged wood and uncured animal hide into cubicles, but the tribal alliances still serve to define who we are and who we go with when we get coffee and who we allow to browse the network.
We no longer erect shrines to honor the spirits of our prey, but find a geek anywhere who doesn't have some old piece of vintage hardware stashed somewhere -- Possibly even out on display.
We may not carry crude clubs and spears fashioned from stone and sinew but that is probably just because no one has developed primitive weaponry powered through a USB port. Yet.
Human Resources should consider it a good day when we wear shoes to work.

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