Posted by: raesalley | February 23, 2008

the one who takes apart pens causes trouble

At some point in second grade, I was taken to the room where the Brownies met and given a variety of puzzles to solve. What comes next in the pattern? What piece is missing from this puzzle? I thought it was great fun as I played with the blocks and got to take things apart. After that, my parents were sent a letter labeling me “gifted.” This got me into a different set of classes, with people I stayed with until graduation. We got to know each other well – the military geek, the quiet one, the bookish gal, the goofball and the one who asks the question that pisses the rest of us off. Everyone else however needed to test us to see who we were. We were given the ones that determine your Myers-Brigg type, whether you are good at mechanical skills or problem solving, how well you’re able to deal with problems or your abilities as a leader.

By the time I took my ASVAB, I was fully aware that I could do just about anything I wanted to apply my mind to except maybe rebuild machines. Sure enough, that’s what the Air Force recruiter said when I finally went in for a meeting after so many calls. The inability to be a mechanic was not a big surprise. I had never played with cars, or taken apart the radio, but simple machines were often destroyed and rebuilt while I was growing up. I wanted to see how the four-color pen was put together so that I understood when I pressed one color how I got that tip. And then I’d switch the colors so someone would get very upset when they borrowed it without knowing better.

I blame this kind of activity for why I do some of the crazy things I do. I want to know how the pieces fit together. As a stage manager, I get to see how all the pieces come together for a show. In my day job I like to know how the piece that I play with relates to the bigger picture. Sometimes it’s just a “this widget fits to this which makes the car” and other times it is a question of how we fit into the organization which makes the world a better place…or so we want to tell ourselves anyway. At my previous employer it led to quite a few discussions on why the organization wasn’t working the way it could, how different projects fit together despite people wanting to be in their own little boxes and then finally why what information about people and organizations were important and why others might need it.

Now I have a different set of pieces in a much larger puzzle. Part of my job is also dealing with our pieces and tracking them when others have to deal with them. This gets me to my latest puzzle. I filed some paperwork to get a check cut for someone. The check was cut, but had somebody’s name instead of something. Probably my fault in the beginning for not reading closely, so I took the oh shit moment, apologized to the guy (indirectly) and did the paperwork again. My basic understanding of all this is that my paperwork is in a database which talks to another one that matches the people I want money sent to with vendors. As far as I knew if I put in something new, it doesn’t match anything and the check still gets magically cut being matched later. I have no idea how this happens. This presents a problem for me…because if I don’t know how it fits together, how can I know that what I put in will match what comes out on the other end?

It’s like that darn pen. I wanted black ink and someone gave me blue. Normal people would be just fine with the fact that it wasn’t the green or red and keep going. Unfortunately, that’s not how the world works, because I needed it to be black ink. That’s what I get for changing pens on people all the time.



  1. Troublemaker.

    This reminds me. Often when Lancelot and I are watching a movie together, he’ll go, “Did you see that?” And ultimately whatever he was looking at was not the something I was looking at. We have different ways of seeing.

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