August 31, 2004

Pray For Rain

Let's get a few things straight about yours truly.

#1: I'm mostly an extrovert. If you're into the Myers-Briggs thing, I'm an ENTJ, which basically means I'm blunt, I'm bossy and I don't care what you think. Feelings? What the hell kind of a pansy ass are you, anyway? Get over it!

#2: I don't like people as a generalized glob. I like most people in one-on-one situations, but when it comes to committees, task forces, panels, large parties, crowds and groups I tend to spend most of my time wishing I had Scanners powers and could make heads explode by sheer force of will.

I realize that some of you might consider an extrovert who hates most people to be an oxymoron, but there you go. I am an enigma. I explain these things in case I need you to testify as to my state of mind in any upcoming trials, because I have recently been appointed to our department's Social Committee. The Social Committee is responsible for planning and executing three yearly social soirees, all of which I hate. As is typical of these corporate cheer endeavors, the committee is comprised of the one person who really gets off on planning parties, and 4 or 5 unwilling representatives who have been pressed into service for the term of one year. Also, the one person who really gets off on planning parties is a moron with no discernable planning skills who cannot pull the trigger on any decision, no matter how trivial, without having a two-hour group encounter session.

We have the fall picnic coming up. Over the course of three one-hour meetings, we have managed to determine that we would like to have a cookout. "Wow," you're saying, "That's a lot of time to come to that decision." Why yes, yes it is. And the kicker is that the decision was ultimately made by Assistant Director fiat, NOT by the committee. "So what did you spend those three hours discussing?" you're asking. I'm SO HAPPY you ASKED!

Apparently the fall picnic needs a theme. Why? I don't know! It's a freaking. Fall. Picnic. Slap some damn mums on the tables, tie some ballons to the picnic shelter, get some poor sap to organize games for the kids, put out the feed troughs and HAVE AT IT! But in bizarro-social-committee world, we need to spend 30 minutes debating whether we should use "Connections" as a theme and then another ten minutes listening to some airhead attempt to fashion an acronym out of the word BINGO. Hello? Earth to spaz! BINGO is a game, not a self-actualization tool!

After the BINGO acronym is shot down (by me, prompting a lovely passive-aggressive "It was just an IDEA" from our little Warren Buffet wannabe) we have to spend another hour or so complaining about how no one ever wants to come to the picnic because the pitiful proles are soooo downtrodden and misunderstood by the evil overlords. Speaking as a prole, shut up. Seriously. Since you work at a State University, your jobs are safe, your benefits are pretty damn good, and your work schedule is apparently flexible enough to allow you hours and hours of time to drink coffee and whine. In my world, working for a university is not a real job. Why the hell do you think I came back to the university to work? Moving on...

The final order of business is the inter-departmental gossip. This would be mildly interesting if I CARED, or if I didn't have, you know, work to do, or if I were talking to anyone but these idiots, but as none of those conditions have been met, I spend the final fifteen minutes of each meeting trying to slash my wrists with an unfolded paper clip and practicing my Scanners look. Thus far, however, the only head in danger of exploding is mine.

The picnic is in two weeks. Pray for rain. And while you're at it, you might want to look into a way to cancel Christmas.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at August 31, 2004 10:17 AM

I think I've said before, we were clearly separated at birth. I think you might be an INTJ with high E coping skills. I'm going to copy this and the next time a new boss asks "So, what IS it you want to work on?", and then gives me a funny look when I say, "Anything that does not involve large group meetings," I can trot out your illustration of the PAIN of dealing with Meetings By Morons. I'm sad to tell you, by the way, that it only gets worse: PTO, band boosters, Cub Scouts, etc. DOOMED!


Posted by: Sheryl at August 31, 2004 11:32 AM

ESTJ. I don't need your stinking meeting unless it is something I can take over and make things happen. I have never been able to figure out which profile it is that loves meetings. The ISTJs are so hung up over order that most meetings drive them nuts.

I work with a guy who loves to plan parties and such. He doesn't hold meetings. He just does it. I'll have to ask him why we never have a "theme".

Posted by: Larry Anderson at August 31, 2004 12:18 PM

Hey, aren't you in an area that is around all the tropical storm/hurricane action? That's some strong @ssed praying!

If not, whoops, my bad.

Posted by: Oblivious at August 31, 2004 01:42 PM

I don't know about the whole Myers-Briggs thing. I'm an INFP and I feel the same way about group projects/meetings. And somehow, I always seem to get stuck being the leader.

I was leader of our Customer Service Week team last year. We decided to have daily drawings for prizes. I volunteered to hand out the tickets for the drawings at the kick-off meeting.

Seemed pretty straight-forward to me. We spent the next 45 minutes discussing exactly HOW I should hand out the tickets. I almost had to kill the lady from HR at the next meeting when she wanted to bring the topic up again.

I feel your pain, sister.

Posted by: LittleA at August 31, 2004 02:33 PM

I can't figure out the system. Maybe my browser is unable to cope and there's some explanatory pop-up or something.

My own classification system makes you out as an F, a type that copes by complicating any situation until nothing can be figured out or solved. Just tell everybody to buzz off with their committee and outing. That would make you an M.

Posted by: Ron Hardin at August 31, 2004 04:25 PM

Fellow ENTJ here, which means I relish arguing at work and like to be myself a lot after hours. You know how liberal-arts grads always say "I'm a people person" in job interviews to mask the fact that they lack marketable skills? Well, I'm not a people person. In fact, I think most people are horse's asses.

After 17 years at one employer, I still haven't been asked to 1) be a "loaned executive" to the United Way or 2) organize any formal company social event. And I think I know why: I would ENTJ the asker right the f*** out the window and onto the pavement two stories below ... and they know it.

Posted by: Lex at August 31, 2004 04:45 PM

INTJ here.

I've read the following explanation of introvert/extrovert: The introvert draws strength from being alone, the extrovert from being with other people. Not strangers necessarily, maybe close friends and family.

I like people, I need to be around them, but every day I HAVE to have some time to myself or I turn into a raging beast. My husband and daughter are the same way, fortunately. None of us can stand to have people in our face at the end of the day. We eat dinner together every night but we don't talk. An extrovert might get his or her feelings hurt.

Posted by: Laura at August 31, 2004 06:37 PM

Its so refreshing to hear from other ENTJs and to know that I am not alone. It makes it so much easier to laugh maniacally when presented with insane inanities of the world.

Posted by: Kyrielle at August 31, 2004 09:06 PM

ENTJ here as well. Meetings drive me nuts unless I'm running them. I'd say more, but you might respond and then I'd have to tell you why you're wrong.

Posted by: Michael at August 31, 2004 10:17 PM

INTJ here. Now imagine that at every single project meeting I attend and now it becomes clear why I want to beat myself to death with my keyboard on a weekly, nay, DAILY basis. As it says at Meetings--because none of us is as dumb as all of us.

Posted by: Feral Girl at September 1, 2004 11:32 AM

INFJ here.

the whole groupthink fuzzy touchy feely "let's plan this" stuff makes me want to vomit.

I'm much happier having someone tell me "You are responsible for buying two dozen mums. Bring the receipt back to get refunded" than to sit in a meeting for two hours to debate over who will buy the mums and what color they should be.

and acronymic activities make me come out in hives.

Seriously, here's my suggestion: if you don't know how to already, learn to knit or crochet. Bring a project to the meetings. When things get asinine, whip out the project.

At least you'll be doing SOMETHING with your time.

(I admit I'm still trying to work up the courage to take my own suggestion but this fall I may find myself feeling forced to; we're going through a hiring cycle and we've already had a couple of fairly contentious meetings where there's a lot of heat but no light).

Posted by: ricki at September 1, 2004 11:54 AM

I can feel your pain. My last job involved installing a computer system on a world wide basis. This involved holding a telecon every Tues AM at 11 o'clock in which we all shared out experiences. After the first month, I had my part ready to go and all the bugs out but I still had to get on the telecon and share my experiences every week and listen to all the other people share their experiences and problems. Most of the problems I could have solved for them in 5 minutes over the phone but I was so p*ssed off at having to waste an hour and a half every week on this stupid phone conversation that I chose not to help them out. I will do almost anything to help someone unless you try to force me to do so. Then you can rot in hell before I will lift a finger.

Anyone who schedules a meeting to go over and over and over something on a regular basis when the whole thing could be solved by just giving people jobs to do and letting them do them should be strung up with piano wire. I hate them! I am normally very mild mannered and get along with almost anyone but people who have to have a meeting to do anything at all are right at the bottom of my list. I was hired because I can make things happen and get things done. Leave me the f*ck alone and let me get the sh*t done and we will get along fine.

Guess you could say I am not a people person.

Posted by: dick at September 1, 2004 08:18 PM

I'm the MB configuration that entails a high degree of anal retentiveness coupled with repressed anger and guilt. So, I apologize in advance for saying so, but it seems like you are an "I", and not an "E." Laura touched on this, but as I've heard it explained, E's draw energy from interacting with other people, whereas I's feel like the life is being sucked out of them if they have to spend too much time with other people.

Anyway. Since we're all revealing our codes, I'm an INFJ. This means people suck the life from my bones (I), but I worry about their feelings when I try to withdraw (F), and spend inordinate amounts of time anticipating scenarios (N) in which they are wounded by my lack of caring and compassion. Plus I'm racked with guilt for continually falling short of the mark (J). Do they make a medicine for that?

Posted by: Tony at September 2, 2004 08:21 AM

Tony, I'm sure that one of the Zoloft Rocks (tm) "suffers" from an INFJ personality.

You're more pessimistic about the traits than I am. I generally describe myself as having the idealism to want to save the world, but too good of an ability of visualizing the consequences of what I might try. And while I'm sitting thinking of what to do that will help things out without causing undo problems, someone comes to unload their problems and frustrations and stories of their generally crappy life on me, and then I get all sad and have to go home and sit in a dark room with Vaughn Williams on the stereo for a while, until I once again feel idealistic enough to want to try to save the world....

Posted by: ricki at September 2, 2004 09:07 AM

Well, I'm on the cusp of "I", but ironically I draw energy from being around large groups of people. I hate them all, but I'm always "up" or energized after a social engagement.

Of course, the energy is completely hatred fueled, but it's there!

Posted by: BAW at September 2, 2004 10:46 AM

You're so I you're E!

Posted by: Tony at September 2, 2004 11:01 AM

One of my coworkers, not a supervisor or anything, decided on her own that it would be nice to have some sort of "do" on the Friday before Labor Day. So she wrote down some things - "hot dogs", "buns", "relish", "chips", and so forth, on a legal pad, and went around two or three times to ask everyone if they thought it was a good idea and wanted to sign up to bring something. Everybody did. She brought the tablecloth and napkins, a George Foreman grill to do the hot dogs, and some hot wings. I brought small jars of mustard (plain and dijon), ketchup, mayo, relish. Other people brought their stuff, and about 12:00 yesterday we all met in the lunch room and had a nice little party. It was really fun, enhanced by the fact that we apparently all like each other, mostly. (Can't count on that in the workplace.) We all thanked this coworker for putting it together.

I'll have to ask her what her Myers-Briggs designation is.

Posted by: Laura at September 4, 2004 08:46 AM


I was asked by a manager (you know already this is going badly) what was required to finish a complex industrial automation project. I laid out the steps for machinery, people, software, testing, integration, and commissioning in about five minutes. I am, after all, this organization's designated adult. I know what I'm doing.

The manager had to have a meeting. After hearing from ten people with valued input and having three hours stripped from my life we had a plan. The same one I laid out in the first five minutes.

Posted by: Fred Boness at September 6, 2004 11:50 AM