Just Say No
have, by my
calculations, exactly eleven and a half minutes to get this groundwater
monitoring report out the door.
least the report has
already been proofread and formatted this time. All I have to do is
print out a clean master copy, get all three of the project leaders
to sign it, photocopy four report copies onto fancy-pants Dirt
Company letterhead (and another three in-house copies onto everyday
regular paper), hole-punch and bind the report copies. stuff the
whole mess into an envelope, type an address label and fill out a
shipping manifest ... all of this, hopefully, by the time the hunky
California Overnight Pick-Up Guy gets here at 4:30. Fortunately, it's a
small report. Eleven-and-a-half minutes should be more than enough
time, provided I stay focused, provided I move quickly, provided
wander away from the copier and forfeit my turn.
-- of course --
provided I'm not bombarded by stoopid interruptions.
far, I'm cooking
right along. I've just sent the report to the printer -- a couple of
the footers needed minor tweakage, as it turns out -- and now I'm
dashing to the production room with an armload of report appendices
for copying. It is at that precise moment that The New Girl suddenly
comes stomping down the
hallway towards me, looking agitated.
printer is flashing a 'low
toner' message," she says flatly. And then she just stands there for a
moment, looking at me expectantly.
it that The New Girl is having a Very Bad Day. I've been hearing rumors
of missed deadlines, last-minute proposal changes, tense
closed-door sessions with angry managers. If anyone can empathize with
how she must be feeling right now, it's yours truly. Unfortunately, I'm
too under the gun myself to offer more than token assistance. I nod
towards the pile of fresh toner cartridges, stacked on the floor of the
production room right behind her.
just got a ton of new cartridges
delivered today," I tell her. "Help yourself."
this clearly isn't
what she had in mind. "I actually don't have time to change it myself,"
she says with regal snootiness. "I'm on deadline."
she stands there and
looks at me some more.
clear. It's in her tone, her demeanor, her expression. Whatever I may
be in the middle of right now -- whatever silly, trivial,
inconsequential little front-desk busywork I may be attending to --
couldn't possibly be as important as her Incredibly Urgent Toner
other words: she's
ordering me to report for Toner Cartridge Duty.
one long moment I'm
actually unsure how I want to handle this. On the one hand, I
understand that she's racing against the clock. She's spent most of her
day being fitted for a new excretory system by management, and now
she's scrambling to effect a little damage control. God knows we've all
been there. I understand that when you're feeling as stressed as she is
right now, things like courtesy and consideration for your co-workers
can easily take second place to blind gibbering panic. If she
were even the slightest bit polite or respectful or pathetic about this
-- if she said God, Secra, I
am so screwed unless you help me out here
-- I would probably be inclined to help her. It would be easy,
actually: I could drop my report appendices into the copier and hit
autofeed, and then while the copies were cooking I could walk down the
hall to her cubicle and change her printer toner for her. It would take
all of about two minutes.
the other hand ...
she didn't even bother to say 'Please.'
say to her evenly. "I'm on a deadline, too." And I walk away, with my
report appendices in my arms, leaving her standing there in the
doorway hating me. By my calculations, I've now got five minutes to
get this groundwater monitoring report out the door.
interruptions, I'm probably going to make it.
to throw a rock?