Where Can I Get Some ADD?

adhd and geekbot500

Question: Everyone here seems to work successfully in 5-minute increments except for me. What am I doing wrong? Do I need Adderall?

Answer:

I used to think companies specifically hired for 20-somethings with ADD. Later, when it happened to me, I realized that the environments themselves cause ADD even in people with normal attention spans. If you’re resistant, the last thing you need is Adderall! I’d try coffee, binge-watching TV, gaming, sleep deprivation, or maybe dodgeball.

Not the Droid You’re Looking For

not the droid500

Question: Sometimes in our team meetings I have to bring up blocking issues, and lately I’ve been getting yelled at for being negative. Even mentioning them privately gets me slammed as “wildly unproductive.” Pretending that a problem doesn’t exist won’t make it go away. That’s just crazy.

Answer:

I think you nailed it on the crazy. This is a microcosm of the world at large, where declaring things as true is the norm more than ever before. Your project manager probably feels like she’s losing control of the project. She’s got pressure from above as well as from below (that’s you, punk bitch), so cut her a little slack if you can.

Continue reading

Tools Overload

tools overload500

Question: We have so many management tools that I have to do the same thing 5 times in each tool. When am I supposed to to any work?

Answer:

I don’t think people will have time to check for that, frankly. They’re all stuck in stand-up meetings themselves and responding to multiple calendar invites for the same event, over and over. Eventually yes, you’ll have to produce work. A lot less than you’re shooting for, though. Match your productivity to everyone else’s, and just give up on trying to crank out anything substantial. If they don’t have time to check on your work, they might not have time to check the management tools, either. Only enter your stuff in there if somebody complains.

Office Spirit Animals

office spirit animals500

Question: The other day someone asked me what my spirit animal was. Should I try to name something noble?

Answer:

Well, it could be one of those personality tests that they use to weed out the loners. Ideally you want to present yourself as a personality type that will mesh somehow with the bigger picture. Consider the affinities of the people who already work there, especially management, although don’t get too uppity and run with the wolves if what they really want is rabbits. Read the employee manual carefully.

Continue reading

Nasruddin’s Audience with the King

Question: I finally met my favorite author whom I’ve worshipped from afar for 20 years, and she was a complete asshole. I’m crushed! How can I read her books now?

Answer:
Sometimes great books are written by assholes. And sometimes, assholes write great books. The books are still as good as ever, so stick with what’s working. And from now on, only buy her books used or borrow them from the library. Getting too close to greatness can be hazardous to your health.

Continue reading

Hot Potato

Question: My neighbor keeps calling me and texting me in the middle of the night that he’s locked himself out. I finally got tired of letting him in and told him that he needed professional help. Now he’s left town and expects me to look after his pets, but instead of asking me upfront he just left a key over the doorframe with a note “Hey, if you don’t take care of my cats, they’ll die a horrible slow death of hunger and thirst, but no pressure.”

Answer:
You are correct, it’s a setup. This is the game called “Holding the Bag” or “Hot Potato”, essentially an exercise in Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) where both players fault out. Why someone would want to play this is probably best left to the psychologists. It’s actually a form of blackmail, except without the cash profits. DO NOT pick up that key. It’s like picking up the monkey’s paw: once you do, a deadly curse falls on you.

Continue reading

My Boss Pulled Out a Penknife On Me

Question:
The other day my boss, at this 5-person firm, pulled out a penknife and threatened me with it because I had asked for a vacation. Is this a problem or is it normal?

Answer:

It’s both. Petty workplace threats and bullying are pretty common, which passes for “normal” in most everyday situations. And therein lies the problem.

Continue reading

My Favorite Turd

Question:
What do I do when my manager puts himself down in front of me? He does a lot, like he’s angling for some reaction.

Answer:
This is a classic double-bind. If you agree, you’re essentially saying he’s an idiot. If you disagree, that’s insubordination. I’d deflect the remark with some clever non-sequitur like “Did you know cats can vomit at will?” and wait a beat. Then look away and say, “So, about the project plan…”

Continue reading

Skating on the Edge

Question:
So I joined this great new company and promptly got a huge crush on the head boss. I really like working there. He helped me out during a life emergency, too. We danced around the whole professionalism thing and hooked up for a minute, kind of while he had a live-in girlfriend. And yet, if I had to ask myself “Would you rather have him come over for a booty call, or should he finish that damn permit submittal?” I’d of course say get the fucking permit.

– Feeling Like a Side Dish

Dear Side,

You already know the answer to this one: DTMFA. Your guy is essentially married to his business, which is actually how it should be. There’s this clip from an old Charlie Chaplin movie where he’s roller-skating on the edge of a balcony, blindfolded, backwards, looks like he’s going to fall any second but somehow he escapes at the last possible moment, over and over.

Continue reading