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Thursday, September 12, 2013

Why do things have to change.

Ah, the day they made me manager, so long ago, is still etched in my memory.  It was so special, magical, and memorable.

"You're in charge of the department now, don't screw it up.  Here are your business cards, but don't give them out.  We accidentally put the toll free number on there, and that is only for customers."  And they threw me the shiny, full box of gorgeous, new 4 color, embossed business cards.  Unfortunately, they didn't throw it quite hard enough and it fell on the floor and broke open and 500 business cards that I couldn't use scattered all over the floor, rushing under machinery, and hurrying to the farthest corners of the department.  

But, I was thrilled, a manager with business cards, and I picked them up, counting them to make sure I had them all.  I even framed one and sat it on my desk, after crossing out the phone number.

What a day, huh?

Then when I got a computer with email, wow, that was something.  But, I would get cryptic, bizarre messages from other members of the Management Family.

"Please touch base with the carrier assigned to the trade show in Los Alamos.  Find out if they need anything from me."  And there would dozens of names in the "cc" field, so everyone in the company knew it was my responsibility to "touch base" with this particular company.

This was before Google, so not only did I have to figure out who the carrier was, but what was the best way to touch base with a carrier.  But, through perseverance and the telephone I triumphed, and could email everybody on the list that I had successfully "touched base" and there was no need for concern, they had everything they needed.

Soon, through phone, fax and email I was touching base all over the country.  It was kind of nice, touching base had an athletic sound, and hinted at the temporary, transient nature of these relationships.  No long term attachments, no commitments, just a quick contact and then it was over.

If you really wanted to dominate the exchange you could throw in an FYI, to suggest superiority, then everybody in this short term relationship knew who was the giver of information and who was the poor sap in second place.  It was a glorious time.

Then, things started to change, and nobody asked me to "touch base" with anyone.  Now, everybody wants me to "reach out."  It sounds almost desperate, pleading.

"Hey, could you reach out to Bob, in Texas?"  You just start out at a disadvantage.

"Help me, Bob, in Texas, you are our only hope."

Well, I refuse to play along.  "No, I will not reach out to Bob, in Texas, I will shoot him an email, I know it is a shot in the dark, but let's take a stab at it, anyway."

That is the way real men handle business.