09 March, 2010

On writing notes, and knowing when not to ask questions

The Invertebrate tries to slip away quietly for lunch, but makes the mistake of saying so aloud.

"Oh," says Ted, looking up from where he's busy scribbling away at something, "I was writing you a note."

(Notes are Ted's latest way of trying to pass a problem on to someone else without giving them the opportunity to pass it back to them. He waits until their back is turned, slips it on to their desk and then runs away. If they don't notice, he'll mention it as he slinks out the door in the afternoon. His notes appear without any kind of context or explanation, so I routinely ignore them. The Invertebrate is still a bit further back on the learning curve.)

The Invertebrate pauses. "What was it about?"

Ted realises the by telling someone he's writing them a note, he's just undermined his own strategy.

"Oh. Oh, nothing. You go to lunch. It can wait."

The Invertebrate persists. "It's okay, I'm not gonna starve. Shoot."

"Um, I'm still finishing the note."

"You don't need to write a note. Just tell me."

"I'll tell you while I write." 

The Invertebrate soon wishes he was starving to death, because it has to be preferable to what follows.

Even under optimal conditions Ted's writing is slow and incoherent. Worse, he's even less capable of multi-tasking than most people: he can't talk any faster than he writes and, if he tries to utter aloud, any word other than the one he's in the process of writing, his brain breaks and he has to pause and start again.

After many stops and starts (punctuated by increasingly indignant growls from The Invertebrate's stomach) Ted's note boils down to this: one client has placed the same request seven times over the last working day.  Ted doesn't understand why. Rather than ring the client to see what they're doing, he wants The Invertebrate to do it for him.

The Invertebrate, broken by the ordeal, agrees to do so and staggers off to lunch. Surprisingly, he actually comes back afterward.

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