Hello, Failure

Of all the enemies of literature, success is the most insidious

Saturday, March 15, 2003

Failure of the Day: Failure

Might as well just say it: nothing went particularly amiss. The people at work are still largely dumb but yesterday their dumbness was played out in public so I was not the only one who stared at my computer in awe at the fact that they are still employed. That's really all the gratification I need: knowing I am not the only one who sees it. I myself just about finished the one project I am managing; I was a full week ahead of schedule on another project so my boss gave me another book to update for someone else who was falling behind and now that book is a week ahead of schedule too. Not that I have any expectations of being told in some fashion that I am doing a good job; I have long since put that fantasy to rest. This is a strictly No Feedback/No Consequences office. You never hear when you have done an OK job, and you certainly never hear when you have sucked (witness UG and UGH). Rather you work in your own personal vacuum, which I suppose is some sort management philosophy, although not a very good one.

Not that I am hunting for kudos or anything. I remember when I my old professor asked me to read his novel in progress and give him some feedback. His lead character's wife had recovered from breast cancer after some sort of surgery and the prof pointed out with some pride the scene in which the character ("Harry," I think) made a big, silly-yet-endearing sexual play for his wife. "He still desires his wife, even after the cancer!" my prof said, touting Harry's overall goodness. But I tried to explain that a guy doesn't actually get points for that, loving his wife for more than just her capacity as a breast-delivery mechanism. That makes him NOT an asshole, but it doesn't make him a hero or anything. You don't get credit for merely not being an asshole. It's not a mark on the plus side, it's just the absence of a mark on the minus side.

Likewise, in a job, you don't actually deserve praise for merely not fucking up. I think you have to go above and beyond, as they say. But when you don't get it then either, you had better be good at taking your own private satisfaction. Fortunately for me, I love my work. It is satisfying to have chosen this thing, copy editing, gotten hired, and work at it every day, trying to getter better and better at it. I like doing it. I read and correct errors for a living. In the Nancy world, that's about as good as it gets and as a result, I am a private-satisfaction-generating machine. But I also feel lucky: I chose my profession, I am well-suited for it, and I am reasonably well compensated for it. Not many people, I think, can say that. And that's why it galls me that other people are so oblivious to their own fortune a to squander it daily by A) sucking at it, B) taking it for granted, and C) not even considering that thier own failures affect their co-workers. I know how many out-of-work editors there are out there right now, and it really does make me nuts that these fuckwads have jobs while other, clearly more skilled peolpe don't.

I am spending way too much time thinking about work. Especially on a saturday. So: I think we are going to see DareDevil today, finally. It's truly scandalous that we haven't seen it yet. or it would be if it weren't, by all accounts, a bad movie. But it is about a guy with a cape, and that makes it de rigueur in this little marriage unit. And I'm all for it: goofy entertainment + raisinettes = a rollicking good time, as far as I'm concerned. Off we go.


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