There is a game that many children play. I think it has a hundred different names,but when I was a child, we called it telephone. I think it was introduced to us as “telephone operator” but I grew up in a time when, although there was no wireless and phones operated on rotary dials, we were modern, we had gotten rid of the operator. We, sensible children, truncated the game appropriately.
The game was played by all sitting in a row. I swear, we once had enough people playing for us to go from one end of the elementary playground, down the macadam hill that was the source of so many badly scraped knees, straight to the other end. The first person would whisper a sentence to the next, then that person to the next, until the last person would run to the other end of the line to say what they heard and the first person would announce what the sentence actually was. We’d all laugh and move down one and the last person would become the new first.
I think we only ever had time or focus to get through three sentences a game before recess was called or we abandoned it for foursquare or kickball. Elementary school was big on balls. You had a good day when you got one of the ever elusive, extra bouncy and firm good balls, but I digress.
Communication gets so easily muddled. I’ve come to realize as an adult how very often it happens. I have been labeled the subject matter expert, a go to source for the job I do. Not because I have long experience with the systems used, I’m just a really fast study. I have enough logic that systems don’t have to be old to be comprehensible. This is a source of value that I willingly capitalize upon.
But where’s the telephone and miscommunication, E? Well, I’ll tell you. It happens most frequently with a golden source; you want a report or the answer to your question, so you come to me. I produce a report. Yay! Everything’s great, right? Ah, but you are a crafty high muckety muck, so you want confirmation that I understood and did it correctly. So you go to your faithful bootlick.
“Faithful Bootlick, I need this information with x and y wackdoodles. And fetch my dry cleaning on your break.”
So then, because I am the golden source with systems singing “ahhh” in harmony, Faithful Bootlick comes to me.
“I have this client who needs y wackadoodles reported. Oh, and if you could get information, too, that’d be good.”
Wow, I feel popular. Forget my normal work, I’ll shoot that to you. Only then you call back and need x, too. And maybe z. Waaait… this is starting to sound familiar.
“Hi, Faithful. Did Crafty ask you to get this for her?”
“Why, yes. How did you ever know?”
“It was a wild guess. Let me send you something.”
I send the original report.
“Oh, wow, this is perfect!”
This happens repeatedly. Day after day. Sometimes with variations of three different high muckety mucks and numerous underlings: bootlickers, brown nosers, lickspittles, sweet contractors and surly, jaded old farts.
Who knew that a childhood game would be substance for a viable career?