Sunday, November 22, 2015

Awfully Detailed

It's probably just the Gee, Aren't You Full of Yourself? disease, but when something is my responsibility and I have to be away from it for any length of time, if someone has to fill in for me, I turn into a terrible, awful person.

I'm awful because I truly believe that whoever is doing it, if they're not me, they're going to do it wrong.


I'm awful, like, obsessing over ever minor detail, awful.

I'm awful, like, make myself sick with worry that it's going to be irreparably fucked up, awful.

I'm awful, like, leaving 12 pages of single spaced, typed instructions, awful.


I have gotten to the place where I at least make the attempt to *not* be awful. I trim the instruction pages down to 5 or 6.

Then I become horrified that one of those things I left on the cutting room floor will be the thing that they screw up because they didn't know.

My best (worst) example of this was when I worked at a Top 40 radio station, and I had to go home for my brother's wedding (Yes, "had to." I would have NEVER taken a fucking vacation day for the hell of it, are you kidding?). My fill-in, a truly lovely person, should have kicked me in the head. Instead, he accepted my typed-in-minute-detail list of instructions, AND patiently listened to my live presentation of said instructions. I left with a pit in my stomach and he, I hope, went home to tell his wife that I was a complete psycho.

Because nothing says, "I disregard your claim of talent" (or hell, responsible adulthood) like telling someone, "I know you may be tempted to do it your way, or even just add some of your own personal touches, but if you do that, the whole thing will go straight to hell, so for god's sake, DON'T."

I can't tell you how many times I have done exactly that. It's a lot.

There is, of course, another angle to this, which is that as a person who massages ever little detail of my work, I am mostly an outstanding employee. I'm good at things. That poor fellow filling in for me for those two stupid days was taking over an insanely highly rated radio show at the time, one that I had created with the sweat of my own insanity. In fact I remember when we got the numbers in, my boss Jack (RIP) just shook his head and said, "well I knew you were *good* but jeezuz-christ." It was a bit of a big deal.

Of course, it wasn't enough of a big deal for me to act like I was handing a Ming vase to a chimpanzee, but ratings are a weird thing. At my job now, where the only person rating me is my boss, I feel confident that she can see that the Pile of Amazing over there is a product of my hard work, and the Heap of Shit is that other guy's stuff (and if she doesn't, I feel confident that I will bring it up next time I talk to her, and she will say nothing more challenging than, "Oh, OK."). With ratings, you need to grab the attention of a group of people who don't really care, make them care, and give them a reason to continue to care, even when their inclination, their instinct, is to, well...not care. Oh, and that same group of people are a bunch of straight-up ADD motherfuckers who have a multitude of other choices. Even when they're easy, it ain't easy. You have to put in the hours, often to the detriment of other things in your so-called life. I'm sure my children have stories. All my exes definitely do.

In short, I have complicated feelings about the awful. I's awful, but I continue to justify it, and actually encourage others to be awful, too.

Example: You're giving me directions to your house because I have never been there. You say something like, "Go down this road three miles and it's on the left."

As I drive down that road, please know that I'm cursing your lack of detail. Sure, I have your house number, but what color is your house? Are there landmarks I should look for to let me know I'm getting close? What does your mailbox look like? Blah, blah, blah.

One time, I was giving someone directions to my house, and I sent them a Word document with PICTURES taken from Google Street View, showing stuff they would see on the way to my house. I even included...and, unashamedly so, suggested points along the route, where it would be a good idea to *change lanes* on the highway.

Yes. I fucking did that. Who doesn't do that, right? What? You think those people got lost? Hell no...they drove straight up to the house (and parked in the location I conveniently pointed out for them, in my finely detailed instructions).

As impressively sick as that is, you better believe that until they arrived, I sat at home, worried that I might have left something out of that document that in its absence would cause them to become horribly lost.

And now...part two of that story...those same people came to visit me on Labor Day weekend. They hadn't been to the house for about a year, and they live far away in a small town, so they have virtually no day-to-day experience with getting around Minneapolis. The husband called the day before they left and asked what is the best way to get to the house. It occurred to me that the previous route I had given them was now completely torn up by road construction and was this year's shit-show of traffic nightmares. I couldn't send them that way again. Only a sadistic monster would do that.

As it happens, there was a LOT of construction between my house and theirs. There was only one route that didn't show up as a red line on the traffic map, and it was my least favorite route. When there is no construction at all, I avoid that route like the plague, but, like many presidential elections, it was the least bad of all the shitty options.

I told him the name of the road.

But...what happened was, because I never drove that way, I didn't know any of the landmarks, or lane changes, or any of that. No clue. I just knew the exit.

I told him the exit.

So, recapping...they have just the name of the road and the name of the exit.

Do you think they got lost? Hell no...they drove right up to the house.

Because they are grown-ass people who can manage without me obsessing.

Of course that didn't stop me from expecting a "we're lost" phone call. Because I'm awful.

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