Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Bad Taste - Or Why Can't I Learn?

Do you ever have those interactions, conversations, confrontations, discussions from which you walk away from disgruntled and annoyed? Wondering how the other person could have misunderstood you so badly?

For your sake, I hope not. But I took a phone call today that left a bad taste in my mouth.

Now let me say right off, I get pissed off pretty easily. I consider myself a moderately rational person, but usually when I get ripped about something, it's because I don't think it's fair. Or someone is not using their brain. Or not listening.

Sometimes it's funny. Like the time when I was OPS...we were patrolling in super-secret mode, and I was told by our TACON that they had been tracking us for the previous two weeks as a suspicious contact. I'm pretty sure my head spun around like a top, my eyes bugged out, steam came out of my ears, and the crown of my cranium blew off - cartoon-style.

Today, it's just kinda sad. Depressing.

The phone call was about a project that we're working on with another unit. Both units have fairly equal levels of responsibility for the outcome, so we have to work together. We made initial notifications about problems with the project late last week. First contributing factor to the misunderstanding: a long holiday weekend. My opinion is that weekends and holidays don't really apply in my world. If there's work to be done, get it done regardless of what day the calendar says it is. The alternate opinion is that other offices that needed to be contacted were closed, so there was really no way to move forward over the weekend.

Plans were made to revisit a desired course of action today. I guess I misunderstood the immediacy of the situation, and figured that things would start in motion first thing this morning. I sent an email mid-morning asking questions that prompted a phone call from a peripheral, but important player, asking some of the same questions I had. This peripheral player volunteered to call our partner unit to get some clarification. Our partner unit player called me back mid-afternoon and told me to be patient. My opinion is that the project is something that requires high-priority attention. The alternate opinion is that our partner unit has lots of other irons in the fire, this one is of moderate urgency and we really don't *have* to take action for another couple of days.

Now, the partner unit player didn't really do hirself any favors when s/he intimated that my watchstanders were less than diligent in their watchstanding and not answering the phone when s/he called earlier. Funny thing is, I've called the ship's quarterdeck before, not gotten an answer, been annoyed, hung up and called right back and someone answered. Damn gremlins in the phone system. My opinion is that yes, it's frustrating when someone doesn't answer their phone, especially when it's supposed to be manned 24x7, but a) there are alternate contact numbers available and b) there is good reason to call a unit back especially if you don't get the chance to leave a message the first time. The alternate opinion is that they have lots of other irons in the fire and it is a waste of their time when they can't get through to someone immediately.

A long-term solution to the problem was discussed. There were questions about when it could be enacted. Another member of the partner unit is responsible for pursuing the long-term solution. I don't have details on the status. I recommended, rather abruptly in retrospect, that the caller talk to the other individual for information on the status of the long-term solution. My opinion is that information that one section of a unit possesses should be available to all other sections of that unit, especially when the sections are less than 10 feet away from each other. The alternate opinion is...umm, I really don't know what the alternate opinion is on this one. Maybe s/he just hadn't thought to talk to the other individual yet.

Normally when I have a contentious conversation with someone, I am able to chivvy the conversation back to better ground before the end of it. Not so today. I'm not sure what went wrong, but I kinda wish I could redo the interchange. Swallow my pride a little, be patient enough to understand the big-picture time line, not get frustrated so easily. In other words, play nicer with others.

I'll try harder tomorrow.


CG said...

"The alternative perspective"!!!! 2 things: One; makes me laugh and two; I'm always trying to figure out what is in someone else's head about something -- exactly the "alternative perspective"!

Azulao said...

Snork. Splort. Hee hee hee. Smirk. Guffaw. HAhahahaHAHAHA!

You are going to graduate school. [wipes away tears of laughter] Good f*cking luck with those group projects, Girl.

Because there is no bloody alternative explanation for "I drank myself blind all weekend and so I completely blew off what we were supposed to do."

There's also no alternative explanation for, "I am so busy and important that I delete all emails from YOUR little office, but I am furious because you changed your policies without warning! Why didn't you call me personally? You should have called me personally. This is all your fault."

Heh. Heh heh. Heh heh heh. Mm-hmm.

Just a Girl said...

Okay, okay...no need to pee your pants laughing so hard at me, A.

I've always heard that one of the best things about working in the Coast Guard is the people you get to work with. And it's true. They are great! Dedicated to what they do. So maybe I am a little spoiled.

Which is why it's so much more frustrating when something like this happens.

As for group projects in school, well, I'm sure there will be a post or two on those :)