Sunday, January 23, 2011


(Ducks in a row, New Orleans 2011)

"I just wanted to know if there's something I did wrong," the employee asks. A carrot, previously dangled, has been removed suddenly, and she wants a reason. Your face tenses, you are calculating which smile and which tone to respond with. You choose confusion and empathy, the kind of empathy they train you in once the stress of ill-fitting management necessarily wears away your attachment to the humans on the other end. You are willing to bet that she won't go much more direct than this- because most of the people who work for you should be grateful they have a job and you'll remind them of this every time they bring up an issue with their contract, or their benefits gone missing. Eat your peas because there are children starving in Africa. When I was doing your job, we had no benefits. You remember that it's time to write encouraging notes of positive reinforcement that sandwich a small criticism to foster improvement. Your day is like round two of Ms. Pacman, there's a ghost around every corner and you can't relax, but you can outpace them all by a bit, and you can pause the game for a covert mission in your office. You've done great things, the numbers are up, people need to see this and you need to promote yourself because no one's going to do that for you in life. Philosophy of practice is not in the past so much as an unrealistic side issue, and they can't see that because they don't know all the things you have to deal with. You became the mom who swore she'd never put her kid on a tether at the county fair. Kid doesn't think so now as he pines in vain for curiosities just beyond the cord's reach- but he's better off.


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