Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Two Hours and Fifteen Minutes I’ll Never Get Back

We have a crime problem in our apartment building. In just under one year there have been 5 burglaries. The belief in the building is that someone inside the building is responsible. It’s a belief that is interesting, but mostly irrelevant. We have not the power to investigate and prove or disprove the theory. All we can do is secure our apartments and live with it and for the most part, the responsibility falls on the individual owner. We installed a security door that would need the jaws of life to pry open, for example. It was a cost we had to assume.

Saturday night, there was another robbery. It was number five. We seem to be on a 2 month schedule. This thief (or thieves) climbed over the outer fence on one side of the building to the 2nd floor patio, then climbed up another barrier and forced open a 3rd floor kitchen window. A computer, camera, money, and credit cards were stolen. The thief got away cleanly. And, there are security cameras on each corner of the building yet the security guard apparently saw nothing or wasn’t paying attention.

This news necessitated a meeting. As my lovely wife was once again out of town (for the 2nd time), I was forced to attend. This was particularly unfortunate as yesterday afternoon I had been inspired by words of Chipotle and had cooked a monster amount of chicken and vegetables to form my own personal fajita burrito – only to get a call about the meeting 10 minutes before I finished. So I was not in the best of moods, to say the least.

The meeting started reasonably well. The woman whose apartment was robbed recounted the story. We understood the details. We were prepared to take action. Then Colombia broke out. And when I say “Colombia” I mean two hours of arguing and complaining about what wasn’t done in the past, what needs to be done now, and pretty much everything in between – none of which had any relation to the situation at hand. The situation at hand was pretty simple to fix – put barbed wire on the outer fence (like EVERY other building in the city), put up light sensors that respond to movement, and retrain the security guards so that they understand what to do when they see irregularities on the security monitor (there were mysterious “shadows” Saturday night).

I was extremely pissed off. Not only were tasty and delicious fajita burritos awaiting, not only was my stomach rumbling, not only was I missing out on precious time to do WHATEVER THE HELL I WANTED, but I was forced to listen to people who had never lifted a finger to improve building security make the most petty and ridiculous complaints. Somebody needed a good slapping.

I won’t be attending another meeting like that. Not only is it the wife’s turn but next time I’m just going to speak up and tell them how absurdly wasteful they really are, etiquette and form be damned. My post work time is valuable to me and I don’t want to waste it on fools and their desire to be heard.

This event does, however, highlight something that I think is worth mentioning. What happened last night replicates virtually every meeting I’ve ever had here at the Company. Meetings are essentially a waste of everyone’s time because people want to fight over problems, not resolve them, everyone insists on being heard, even if their point has already been made a half dozen times, and throughout it all, there are little inefficient time wasters in the forms of jokes intended to lighten a mood that has gotten personal due to the veracity of the comments. Somebody get me a job with the Brits!

To give an example, one common trait of these types of meetings is the person who says some derivation of the following: "I've lived/worked/etc X number of years and never once had a problem with X/Y/Z!!!" People love to think their personal experiences mean something, I guess, no matter how petty or stupid.

Anyway, I just voted for Obama in the Democrats Abroad primary and I’ve got some more burritos waiting at home for me tonight, so today is looking up.



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