Monday, December 22, 2008

33 Years Of Opportunism

Ballots were handed out at my job a few weeks ago voting for 2nd shift's various characters, such as Most Likely to Transition to a better job in J.P. Morgan Chase, Most Helpful, Most Outspoken, etc. The last category was for Most Quiet, and almost immediately after the ballots were distributed, several people approached me asking for my last name so they could rock the vote for me. I didn't have to guess which category they were putting me down for, but after that day I forgot about the ballots until the awards show happened this past Friday. I have to admit, I expected to be in the running for Most Quiet, but I didn't necessarily expect to win. There are close to 100 people working 2nd shift, so I didn't think I'd be able to beat everyone out. But the nominations came up on the TV screen, which displayed the nominees for each award with their name in lights and music in the background, and for Most Quiet I was the 2nd nominee displayed. It was so funny because my name popping up was immediately followed by several people in the room saying, "Who??" I was so quiet that a lot of folks legitimately didn't know who the hell I was even though I've been working 2nd shift now for a year and a half. I guess if I'm that unknown, I deserve to be named Most Quiet, and indeed I won. Now, I didn't vote for anybody in any category, and I dismissed the whole thing as silly the day that ballots were handed out, so you'd think I would be embarrassed or nonchalant about winning. But, once again proving myself to be a hypocrite and proving that when it comes to the spotlight I have no shame, I basked in the "glory" of my win, stretching my arms out when my name was called, strutting down the red-carpet aisle, and accepting my award with a big smile as if I accomplished something. I grabbed the microphone for an acceptance speech, and, no lie, I heard several people gasp at the prospect of me speaking, and one woman said, "This should be something. I haven't heard him say a thing in two years." I then gave my one-word speech: "Shhhh..." Then I took a bow and headed back to my seat in the back of the room as everyone laughed and applauded.

Hey, if I thanked the Academy and took forever in my acceptance, then I wouldn't be deserving of Most Quiet, now would I?

But here's the thing: Those close to me who work with me every day don't think of me as very quiet. When someone does something stupid at work, or my boss gets on my ass about my numbers, or something happens that pisses me off, I'm not quiet at all. I'm quite loud and outspoken about dumb shit. I don't say much when things are going smoothly, but there are days where everything seems to be going off the rails and I appear to be the only one capable of steering the train back on track. A good example would be last month, when an account in my workgroup that has a lot of difficult instructions became a problem because I wasn't there to work on it for a few days and people in a different workgroup tried to do it. They screwed it up, but it wasn't their fault. There are a lot of instructions that were accidentally cut off of the online instruction page for that account, but because I've been working that account for a couple of years, I know what instructions are missing, and I work the account the right way. I have mentioned to previous supervisors and team leads that the instructions need to be fixed, but no one listened, and now people were running up to me saying "I'm so glad you're here!" because I returned from having a few days off early in November and I was known as the only guy who really knew how to work that account. Really, when you're running up to me saying "I'm glad you're here!," you have major issues. Because I had mentioned the problems with this account's instructions page many times before, I decided that I was going on a full-on crusade to have this taken care of once and for all, and I talked to team leads and supervisors from 1st shift, who seem to take these things more seriously than 2nd shift, and I grabbed Maria Perez, one of my old supervisors who got promoted upstairs, as she was walking by. And I explained to everyone, one by one, in a calm voice that--how did I put it--this account's instructions are extremely fucked up and someone needs to get off their ass and fix it. After four or five days of different people consulting with me about what needed to be added and subtracted from the page, the job was done. If I wasn't so quiet, this could have been done months ago, I admit, but the point is, when I take charge of getting something done, I'm not quiet at all. I'm rude, crude, brusque and straightforward, and I'm relentless, never pulling up until I accomplish what I need to accomplish.

On this, my 33rd birthday, I am reflecting on that bulldog attitude that I have at certain times that make it such a laugh that I won an award for Most Quiet. I am who I am, and I wouldn't want to change that. And who I am is a quiet person by nature who gets loud and aggressive when he senses the achievement of an accessible goal or the stench of incompetence. I'm like a chameleon in that respect. Last Friday I made a section of a room gasp in shock when I opened my mouth to speak, while another section of the same room winked at me as I accepted my award, knowing that I can get vociferous with the best of them. I like to think of that as being opportunistic. Like one of my favorite wrestlers growing up, Arn Anderson, I will take shot after shot waiting for the right time when I can hit my one good blow that does as much damage as many shots by other people. In other words, when I strike, I make it count. Looking back at my birthday entry from last year, it seems that I decided to keep my cloak of invisibility a little while longer, until I choose my moment to stand up and make myself heard. That's not so much being anonymous, that's just being opportunistic, and I don't think I want to live any other way.

1 comment:

GrizzBabe said...

I'm the same way. I'm quiet until I sense an injustice occurring, and then I can become quite squeaky.