Thursday, February 11, 2010

Silly Season: Holiday-work perversion

There appears to be a form of perverse behaviour that consumes people at the cusp of long holidays.

By "people", I mean those who play the roles of proprietors, employers, clients and customers. The level of unreasonableness that simmers during normal periods reaches hysterical levels as long holidays approach. It is, indeed, a case of rushing to dig a hole only when Nature is urgently calling and organic waste is on the verge of a ripened burst from the designated orifice.

pix from here.

Why set deadlines based on long holidays? Why not organise based on regular periods so that ebbs and flows are as regular as the tides?

Every season of long holidays causes this absurd behaviour to rear its ugly head.

This particular stretch, when the Lunar New Year is upon us, when the stale Bull is about to give way to the prowling Tiger, the self-same scenario has presented itself.

This time around, I am in a Zen-state of calmness. The deadlines are unable to penetrate the veneer of genteel calm that is my aura. I am ice-cool.

pix from here.

The reason for this serendipitous demeanour is my observance of Lord Baden-Powell's motto to all Boy Scouts. Be Prepared.

pix from here.

Nary 2 months ago, I had prepared early drafts of proposals from matters that were in early stages. From experience, it was clear that the Silly Season of long holidays will infect these well-behaved people who use my services. Sure enough, these self-same people have reached the corporate and commercial equivalent of raging AH1N1 fever. And, I am pleased to say that I was completely ready to pull rabbits out of the hat.

But, my state of preparedness is no cause to forgive this irrational behaviour.

My heart goes out to those who do not anticipate Silly Seasons of long holidays. I only gently suggest that the next time around, Be Prepared.

1 comment:

walla said...

It is indeed irrational to request service providers to ramp up delivery of documents that will hardly be read while in holiday mood or acted upon by offices which would in any case be closed.

While one would like to entertain the possibility that the client is perhaps afraid the provider may not come back after the holiday and so rush the provider to deliver first before the holiday begins, reality knocks that this cannot be so because the client is fast to ask but slow to pay.

Thus the inevitable conclusion that the client is actually harboring personal anxiety born of guilt from taking a holiday and that guilt is transposed onto the provider on the grounds that since the provider is an outsider being paid for a service, he or she should absorb the client's guilt-ridden stress as a privilege for taking on the job in the first place, the privilege further accentuated by the opportunity given to the provider to strengthen his or her patience, an attribute deemed useful for future engagements with even more demanding clients. Under such circumstances, progress towards developing client relationship if not harmony is thus inevitable. Carried to its zenith, the service provider will be exalted as having the patience of Job. Perhaps that's also why only professional courtesy prevents them from being called jobbers in less discriminating circles.

Writing ironclad proposals with clauses that cover all eventualities, forseen and unforseeable, is both a science and an art. Generality and specificity dance their electrifying tango to a beat that only the document formulator hears. Indeed it can be an achievement of the first order in inverse proportion to the habitual inclination of most clients to reveal the least while expecting the most.

If he had known this would be a universal occupational hazard of the trade, the founder of the boys scout movement would perhaps have changed his adage to: 'hope for the best, prepare for the worst'.

Some in the profession have lost hair; others have seen theirs turn white. Few can deny that the industrial remunerations are unequal to the challenges, workloads and stress. What seems to keep them going are professionalism and caffeine.

It is indeed an indictment of societies anywhere that more premium is put on professionals who wield the scalpel than on professionals who wield the keyboard, thus putting paid to another saying that the pen is mightier than the sword.

Maybe that's why even Einstein regretted he didn't become a cobbler. But that's because as a loner theoretical physicist he never encountered the sublime capacity of clients to perform irrational demands on unsuspecting providers just trying to make a decent and honest living to support a growing family.

The only possible glimmer is that in the next life, the roles will be reversed. But that's hardly comforting today in this one. Especially for those constantly in full control of their faculties.