beaten down at … for …

Don’t you hate it when …

Okay, so I’m not some incredible socialite, and I’m definitely not the best at office politics. Okay, so, socially maybe I damn near don’t have a clue.

But, … really. So, … quite recently … doesn’t happen very often, but does come up once in a while, … yeah, repeatedly, more-or-less same kind’a thing.

So, recent example – production problem, at work, impacting multiple systems, it gets handed to me to work to resolve it. So, yes, I did down, rather quickly and efficiently, and find the source of the problem. Some buggy code – I even find and isolate exactly where the flaw is – something flawed in its writing so it would never act as apparently intended – a loop that was clearly intended to (eventually) exit, but as written, never would exit under the conditions it was intended to exit – nor would it ever even exit at all And, “of course”, this code was executed quite repeatedly, so, yeah, the problems literally piled on. Anyway, this was causing problems, in production, and enough that folks noticed and reported it, and it got assigned to me to work on. So, I find the problem in the code. I also find that it’s been recently installed, and who installed it … different group – group I’m not in nor responsible for that code nor fixing it, nor should the group I’m in alter that other group’s code. And I’ve no idea if the person who installed it wrote it or not – not especially relevant, but quite appropriate to work back towards upstream to have it corrected, lest the problem repeat on these and/or many additional systems. So I pass the issue to that person, with the relevant information – and include in it a quite open invitation to contact me if they have any questions or need assistance on the issue. They relay it to person responsible for (author of?) the code – and I also pass to that person a bit more additional information on potentially even better way to address the flaw in the code (it was horribly inefficient, much more resource intensive than it needed to be, and not nearly as robust as it could easily be made with some quite minor changes – though that’s definitely not how I worded it to them). Anyway, pass that to them too – just directly to the one responsible for the code, mentioning, literally, as a P.S., that that section of code could also be made significantly more efficient and robust, and providing with that, example code that would accomplish such – and again, open invitation to contact me if they have any questions or whatever. And, what happens? They contact my supervisor, and I get reamed out. Geez. WTF? Not like I was calling someone stupid or anything like that – harshest word I used was “flaw”, I think I phrased it as “appears to be a flaw here”, and specifically referring to the few lines of code within which the problem existed. Bloody heck. So, I get beaten down at work for good, factual, relevant, helpful, assistance and information. Not the first time that’s more-or-less happened, and even in this particular assignment. Ugh. E.g. got beaten down for telling customer potentially relevant technologies that might be used to solve a particular problem. My gosh, I gave them information that might be useful. Friggin’ politics. Another case, same assignment. A rather serious long-running issue – I put out proposal on what’s needed to bring the relevant resources together to dig down to the bottom of it. And … I get beaten up for that – oh my gosh, I actually (also) sent it to relevant person who could do something about it (relevant stakeholder at the relevant level, and already rather intimately involved with the issue and much of the communications). Yeah, I get … beaten up for it (oh my gosh, shared too much truth and reality or somethin’ like that … I dunno, too damn much politics or whatever, or oh my gosh we don’t want to make any team in the mix possibly look bad – I was not pointing fingers at all, merely pointing out that we needed to get the relevant teams working together to effectively dig to the bottom of the problem and get if fixed). So, yeah, … oddly on that one, got beaten up on it, … and praised … almost at the same time. That key stakeholder in fact, and not facetiously at all, referred to my particular communication on that as “beautiful” – and did in fact get the relevant teams to in fact coordinate together, such that we did in fact, in fairly short order, get to the bottom of the problem (it had been going on a very long time before that). Yeah, results – problem solved, but I get beat up for being key cog that moved the machinery to get the problem fixed. Yeah, I get the “possible disciplinary action up to and including termination” rap for that. What a bunch ‘o sh*t. Ugh. I just don’t get it. Maybe I never will.

Rather reminds me a lot of, stuff like, oh …

OMG, I used red. Yeah, errors in someone’s technical configuration, I highlighted it in the email – so it’s be much easier to see which specific bits I was referring to, and, OMG, I committed the sin of picking red to highlight the errors in. Geez, I get chastised for using red. I dunno, maybe someone got traumatized from the red pen of a school teacher or somethin’ like that, but some folks get horribly upset and hurt if you use red. I see folks usin’ red all the time – even in that same environment – to pick out flaws, errors, failures, etc., but, oh my gosh, I use it, I get called on the carpet for it – and the “don’t use red” lecture.

Of course there’s the “my writing sucks” bit – though, e.g. managers, say it in more politically correct ways. So, yep, hard facts, evidence, information, relevant detail. But, that’s “too much” for a whole lot ‘o folks, too long, blah blah, … end up getting that fair bit over the years – in one form or another (first award I was given at one company was for longest email). Well, one thing my emails tend not to lack, is the needed relevant information … though probably longer than most would like, and not the best organized.

Well, yeah, so English was my worst subject in school (and I also generally hated it – probably mostly ’cause a lot of the compulsory reading bored the sh*t out of me (some of it was so boring I could read the same page 10 times and retain zero of it … eventually I just give up and go on to the next page, … through whole darn books like that … what, me, prone to be bored?) – and the other part I especially hated, was not only were all the rules so damn complex with so many damn exceptions, they’d friggin’ change the rules – e.g. rule I was taught in 1st or 3rd grade, by 7th or 8th grade that English rule had been changed! Bloody heck. It’s not like it was based upon some scientific fact or new discovery, … just some damn convention or another changed.). That’s one of many reasons why I didn’t pursue a career as a writer or something like that, and rather went off in much more technical direction. But, alas, still end up having to write some fair bit. Ugh. And folks get quite picky about it. Maybe I should’a trained/educated myself to be a plumber. Pro’lly would’a bored the sh*t out’a me, but probably nobody’s quite so concerned about one’s English writing skills when one has sh*t (literally) on one’s hands … and … not much risk of being outsourced if one is a plumber … and it actually pays fairly well.

Some work after college, … technical support, (mostly) via phone. Yeah, … more politics – mostly with the customers. Have to “dumb it down” … a lot. Most notably, with a whole lot ‘o the customers, giving ’em facts, information, answers, solving their problem for them, indicating exactly what their problem/issue was, did not go over well, … often did not go over well at all. So, … with a whole hell’a lot of ’em, … had to sort’a play dumb, while, … at the same time, just “accidentally”/coincidentally leading them to discover the answer “themselves”, so that they thought that they found the answer, and “you” (me) on technical support, is just some low level slob that can hardly, if at all help them, and they really never needed my help anyway, ’cause they found the problem “all by themselves” and without my help. Yeah, right. Then why the f*ck did they keep calling back and “coincidentally” discovering the solution “all by themselves” when they had us on the phone with them? Uh huh.

College, … did damn frigin’ fine in some stuff … definitely not so well with some other bits, … at least later, but, well, whatever – lot ‘o stuff was goin’ on – rather complex, not gonna get into it – certainly not at least here & now. So, anyway, University of California – nothin’ to sneeze at. Was I qualified to get in? Yeah, … and then some – pretty darn well qualified, anyway. Some classes/tests/finals/midterms … Anyway, an example that comes to mind – about 150 students in the class – technical, in my field. How well did I do? Final for the class, I got the highest score in the entire class. Okay, whatever, no biggie. Another class. Again, technical / my field / specialization. About 80 or so students in the class. First midterm. What score did I get? Well, it was the highest score in the class. Not only was it the highest score in the class, but, it was also substantially above – like by 10% or more – the 2nd highest score on that mid-term. Huston, we have a problem. How did the instructor grade exams? 90% or better of the highest test score on the exam, was an A, 80%, B, etc. Yeah, I f***ed up the whole class average on that mid term I did, by scoring so well. Yep, I’m screwed. Well, not quite. Fortunately, the instructor, seeing the huge spread between top and 2nd highest score (and what that would do to the class average grades on the exam), instead, made an exception that one time, and pegged the curve, instead, to the 2nd highest score, rather than the top score. Friggin’ close call. But no way in hell, after that, that I would ever again hit a top score on any of those exams in that class. Definitely would not be the way to win friends and influence people. So, after that first mid-term, I aimed significantly lower – that was a class in which I absolutely did not need or want the attention of getting the top score on any of the exams in that class – so for the remainder I made sure I didn’t achieve such a high score. Hindsight? Yeah, my friggin’ social life sucked anyway. I pro’lly should’a just kept going for the damn best performance I could do in that class – and probably would’ve got the top score on all the exams in that class, and highest overall score in the class. But for the long-haul, what I did and didn’t do on that class didn’t make all that much difference … but more broadly applying same, and doing my best performance (or at least learn the stuff exceedingly well – well beyond what it took to get an A) probably would’ve generally served me fair bit better … at least for the school/academic stuff.

Earlier, … junior college – a bit ‘o that before UC (not gonna cover details … whatever). Anyway, Calculus and Chemistry. Yeah, got As on all that. But, to my surprise, in the Calculus class – about 30 or so students, instructor told me how I was doing … not only A, but the top overall score/points in the class – I knew I was doing well, but I didn’t know I was doing that well. Chemistry … started out with about 35 students. By end of the year, only 3 finished the class for the year. I was not only A, but top score. I really missed it when the only other student in the class that was near/around my level on there needed to withdrawal from the class. That quite sucked – only real “peer” I had there. The other students that remained by then I think only barely passed the class – if they even made it through to the end.

High school … graduating class of ’bout 600. Was I straight A’s? Almost. Some B’s in English. Everything else straight A’s. GPA put me in about the top 2% or so of the graduating class, and I was the top in math, science, and electronics out of all 600.

Elementary school … forget if I mentioned it or not, whatever. IQ testing, for an “extra” class they put the particularly smart/bright kids in … some changes about in moving schools, changing teachers, etc., … had to be “recommended by the teacher” for the testing to happen, so, … it did happen, … but … later. I don’t know what the qualification criteria was on that test, but I took the test, and I qualified for that “extra” class. And, teacher I had earlier subsequently remarked something like, “Oh, doesn’t suprise me. If I’d had him longer in my class, I might’ve recommended that testing”. And, … yet another change in schools, so, … never got to that class at all – didn’t exist at all in the school where we moved to. To this day, I still remember two of the questions on that test. I seem to generally remember all of the questions seeming relatively easy to me. Whatever.

And the moral of the story is … yeah, I’m rambling, sorry.

I guess one of my key points is often having to “play it down”. Do that a fair bit. Most of the time I don’t want the attention for doing especially or particularly well. An occasional “nice job” or “gee thanks” will generally suffice. Many folks often get upset or jealous, or whatever the hell it is that many humans do, when one of their peers, e.g. me, is quite a top performer – they don’t like being out-performed by others. So, yeah, for the most part, I really do not want the attention of focus or to be singled out in that way – tends to highly suck being singled out like that – I prefer to be closer to “blending in” … to the extent feasible. But, also, at the same time, I friggin’ like to – often quite essentially insist upon – mostly through my actions, of doing darn good quality work (or whatever the task is at hand). I do do not like doing things half-*ssed, or anything like that. I do damn fine, e.g., technical work, … quite top class stuff. Okay, so I suck at social, and not so good at office politics and that B.S. Yeah, there’s a reason I didn’t go into sales or something like that. I’m not a schmoozer. Sure, nice, friendly, blah, blah, … though may still manage to rub some folks the wrong way – so, yeah, I don’t understand them, they don’t understand me, it’s gonna happen. Okay, most of the whole friggin’ world doesn’t at all well understand me – oh well – guess I just gotta live with that – I’m in no position to change the whole friggin’ world. I take pride in doing quality work (or whatever the task at hand is – may not be work at all). Not to boast – hell no, nothin’ like that. I just think it ought be done damn well. Really, I think that quite about everything – ought be done as well as feasible. Why the hell not? And, yeah, at least within my area(s) of expertise, I am darn good at what I do (most all the work environments I’ve been in, I’m typically in the top 15 to 10% of the most technically skilled for the relevant technical work skills they have me/us there for). Maybe I ought seek out more challenging work environments (one I’m in presently is not very challenging). One friend ‘o mine, some years back, quite suggested I ought be making about thrice what I do, stating that I’m quite smart and skilled enough to do so, … but I don’t care that much about the money – do quite well enough on that as it is … though more technically challenging would be good/interesting. But too, maybe that friend’s estimates are a bit overly optimistic … and may overlook that I suck at social, don’t do office politics very well, suck at schmoozing, and really am not good at self-marketing either.

“Play it down” – and too, a lot of that is to avoid/escape negative attention/feedback/consequences. Not gonna f*ck up the quality of the work, or whatever, but … try to stay below the radar. Heck, that software bug bit I mentioned – bit I passed to the person responsible for the code – that person could’a dropped in the bit I suggested, and come off lookin’ like relatively brilliant hero … I didn’t want any credit, nor was I asking for any. And if that code I suggested were at all less than perfect, why that person could turn around and blame me for it and point the fingers at me – I got no problem with that, I wrote that example snippet, I stand behind it, at least insofar as providing it for example and suggestion. Ah, but no, instead I get raked over the coals. Similar example bit recently – again – I don’t want the attention, or generally even the credit – fairly complex problem at work, I assisted coworker on getting down to bottom of problem. I fed that information only to that one person. That one person could take what I provided and run with it – no need to give me any credit for it. I don’t care. That one person knows, it gets done and solved well, that’s quite well enough. As long as the person doesn’t misrepresent or lie about it, I don’t care, but unlikely any would even question how the information and solution came about – if someone did it and fixed it, that’s all that most are interested in anyway. They can praise that other person, I don’t friggin’ care – all perfectly fine by me.

Definitely not to boast, but, like anyone, have my strengths and weaknesses. Damn good at some stuff (kind’a limited scope(s) … whatever), about “average” on some fair bit ‘o stuff. And, … quite suck at some other stuff (Social skills? What the hell are those?).

And, maybe there was some other point I had in mind to make, but damned if I can remember – yes can even highly distract myself.

And, maybe, in some ways, I’ve been darn lucky. Not gonna mention anything too specific, but … I remember a classmate. Absolute damn friggin’ genius. Probably the only genius I’ve ever known at all in person … well, at least where I knew, learned, or figured out, that the person was in fact very much a genius. And we’re not talkin’ like Mensa top 2% of IQ or somethin’ like that. No, we’re talking top 0.02% or higher – kind of level that would make an average Mensan look like quite the dullard. Anyway, said classmate, … whole lot ‘o flyin’ below the radar. A few teachers knew – or suspected … but never said as much. But I did learn, through a few incidents and encounters. Learned how absurdly well said classmate had done, on test teacher had given for decades – that had a range of material going from pretty average, up to stuff that would be challenging for most Ph.D. graduates … yeah, said student got perfect score, and was only slightly uncertain of one of their answers on the whole test. Teacher had given that test, for decades, to the top students (about the top 25% of students from each graduating class) at that school … probably testing 2,000 or more students in total – none had ever gotten a perfect score before, and very rare that any student even ever came fairly close to that. I won’t detail, but subsequently I learned – both indirectly, and directly, of many amazing extremely impressive intellectual/cognitive/etc. talents, skills, and capabilities, this student had. And, I’m pretty smart, so, … someone blowing my socks away like that, … takes a helluva lot. Never encountered that, ever, before, or since, … quite rare. But, … under the radar. Said student kept a quite quiet low profile. Most never knew or would have suspected. Yeah, sure all straight As ‘n all that, but damn friggin’ quietly, and without drawing attention to self at all – pretty much, as feasible, disappearing/blending into the background. Anyway, just makes me think, much as that’s an issue on similar for me, and I try to “blend in” … person at that genius level, otherwise having similar issues, … yeah, probably about two decimal orders of magnitude more difficult and harder to bridge (or mostly conceal) that gap, and … fly under the radar. And probably a lot of geniuses don’t want the attention, and have learned to fly under the radar, and avoid that attention – mostly due to all the problems it can cause – mostly for them, to get that kind of and level of attention, and be in the spotlight like that. As if things weren’t socially challenging enough for me as it is, I certainly don’t envy being in the position that student must’ve been in (though can’t say I’d mind having those phenomenal smarts … were it not otherwise an issue).

Anyway, all those skills/talents, and specific knowledge I do have, (generally) good job/income, blah, blah, nice guy, etc., etc., still can’t hardly friggin’ manage to make a good friend, let alone get a date or have a relationship. Hell, maybe “date”s are way overrated. All the (very few) damn best relationships I ever had in my life, never started out with dating someone – always started out somewhere in the friendship realm. But then again, talkin’ very small number statistics on those particularly good relationships I’ve had, so, … who the hell knows. Oh well. Life. And so it goes.

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