Lunaya Pravda

29 August 2007

Must I hold your hand?

Why is it some folks seem almost willfully incapable of considering all the effects of their actions? Recent interactions with a coworker have me so frustrated that I'm nearing the point of calling for someone to post her head on the battlements as a warning to others.

This woman is in a position of enormous responsibility--she manages all the data many, many other folks use in their analyses. And for reasons unfathomable to me, she's incapable of notifying anyone when there's a change, what changed, why the change was made, or providing any other warnings that our analyses may need to start over from square one. Twice in the past two weeks, I've found out sheerly by accident that everything I thought had been settled was in fact in a state of flux, and she wasn't capable of quantifying the amount of flux in either instance.

Her preferred method is to make changes, document nothing, and then maybe send out a summary email, or instead sit back and hope no one notices. If these miscalculations were really someone else's fault, as she claims, she'd be in a position to prop herself up a bit for finding and fixing them. But I can't help but suspect these problems are directly attributable to her, and that's the real reason she's not telling anyone about corrections. That's the only reasonable explanation for taking a "hide and hope I'm not discovered" tactic.

And I suspect she truly believes she's not at fault, though I'm not clear whose fault she thinks the mess is.

This happens all around us. People routinely deceive themselves into focusing on the benefits of a decision without weighing the potential consequences, either to themselves or to others. Whether it is government forcing some new law down our throats only to be suddenly astonished at the unintended consequences, or the individuals who are almost entirely responsible for the entire practice of product liability law, looking ahead and seeing the ramifications of one's actions is rapidly becoming a lost art.

It's to the point of the absurd--even pedestrians don't want the responsibility of considering what happens if they step in front of the car. If you ask them, they'll focus on suing the bastards who had the temerity to hit them, but they never consider the hours of physical therapy, the crutches, the stitches, or any of the other negative implications associated with stepping into the path of a moving car.

And, just like my coworker, they demonstrate a complete inability to take responsibility for all the consequences of their actions that follow. They hide, and hope no one calls them on their role in the ensuing mess.

I know sometimes hearing "I'm sorry. I screwed up. It won't happen again," isn't satisfactory, but right now, I'd be content to just hear it ONCE from a responsible person who means it and commits to looking both ways before crossing.

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