Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Greatest and the Least

This is a story about two of the men i work with, Rob and John (names changed to protect the innocent).

Rob is the boss, but unfortunately not a good one.  He is at the top of the totem pole of our department.  John is a Patient Care Tech, or PTC.  He is at the bottom of the totem pole. 

Rob's demeanor gives us the impression that he couldn't care less about this job.  He's not invested; it doesn't mean much to him.  John is one of the hardest working people you will ever meet.  His job might not seem illustrious or significant, but he does it with all his might.  John has the attitude that if you are going to do something, you should do it well.  John really is the backbone of our department.

There have been a few situations recently that have illustrated the difference in character of these two men.  One example is Blizzard Day.  I'm still mad at how my boss handled Blizzard Day.  He showed no leadership, no planning, no thinking.  He was just winging it.  Blizzard Day was total chaos.  There was not a clear method of communication with the staff or with our customers.  It turned out that only about 7 out of 20+ people came to work that day.  It was crazy busy, we had no idea what was going on, and each of us was doing the work of 4 people.  As you might imagine, we didn't have time for a lunch break.  One of the doctors ordered pizza, and it was made VERY CLEAR that the pizza was ONLY for doctors.  The rest of us were strictly forbidden to eat any.  My boss Rob happened to be sitting at the desk when my loudmouth co-worker Marlene walked up and said, "How come nobody told me we had pizza?!?  Here i am starving with no lunchbreak and you guys have pizza!!!"  To which we said, "Oh no honey, we aren't eating any pizza.  It's only for doctors."  She said to Rob, "Well where's our pizza?!?"

Rob said, and i only wish you could hear the tone of his voice (it was the tone of someone who is lying in order to look good), "Oh i tried, i really tried to order pizza for you guys, but no one is delivering today because of the snow."

We all knew that someone was delivering because there were three pizzas in the conference room at that very minute.

Rob just flat out didn't care.

John, on the other hand, after witnessing these events, snuck off to the cafeteria and bought more than a dozen cookies.  With his own money.  He brought them back, set them on the desk, and said, "I know you guys are really hungry so i got you some cookies.  It's not a lot but hopefully it will tide you over for a little while."

It still brings tears to my eyes because it was so thoughtful.  Here we have the man who is the least showing more concern than the man who is the greatest.  The man who is the least was going above and beyond in order to help out his team.  The man who is the least noticed a problem, and did his part to fix it.

Since that day, Rob has continued to be incompetent and making excuses for it.  He FINALLY ordered the combo printer\copy machine we've needed forever, but he didn't arrange for anyone to install it.  The delivery man took away the old printer (that didn't copy) and put the new printer-copier in its place, but no one from the Computer Nerd department set up the printer with the 3 computers.  So we went from having a printer that didn't copy to having a copier that didn't print.  Every day for 2 weeks, Rob assured everyone, "Don't worry! I talked to IT and they're sending someone."

Meanwhile, John continues to serve those around him.  We have free coffee at my job, but it isn't good coffee.  Personally, i ain't too proud for free coffee, but many of my coworkers are coffee snobs and refuse to drink it.  They were spending a great deal of money on the Starbucks in the lobby.  Someone found a really cool coffee-making contraption.  I can't really describe it to you.  It's sort of like a french press, but it isn't.  I don't actually know what its official name is.  The important features are that it doesn't use electricity, but it's easier to clean up than a french press.  It doesn't take up much space.  Anyway, Debbie is the ring-leader of the new coffee club.  She brought the contraption and left it in the pantry for anyone to use.  People take turns bringing in their favorite coffee.  Once the coffee club got going, people started bringing in fancy creamers.  Now a few people have their own mug, rather than the styrofoam cups.  It has really blossomed into quite the sophisticated operation.  The drawback though, is that it now takes up a lot of space.  The benefit of the contraption was that you could store it easily.  But now we have to store the contraption, several mugs, different brands of coffee, and containers of creamer.  Well John is in charge of the pantry.  He orders the supplies and keeps it maintained.  He cleared off a shelf for all the coffee supplies, and sweet-talked the secretary into letting him borrow the label maker.  He made an "Olson Cafe" label for the shelf and put all the paraphernalia there.  Then he christened the new shelf by bringing his 80 year old mother's homemade pound cake, which is amazingly delicious with coffee. 

I recognize that having a shelf labeled "Olson Cafe" doesn't sound like much to you.  But if you could spend a day in my work environment you would see that it is a very big deal to us.  In this job we have no voice.  Our customers take advantage of us all the time.  They yell at us, they make sexually inappropriate comments, they cross the line.  Our boss and the people above him make strict rules without our input.  They dictate how we do our jobs, when they don't actually know what our jobs are.  So the Olson Cafe is the only thing that is our own.  The Olson Cafe is how we take care of each other.  It's how we share our generosity.  Of the entire 6th floor, that one shelf in the pantry is the only place where we make the rules.

In the Olson kingdom, Rob is the greatest.  But in the Olson Cafe, John is the king.

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