Sunday, January 5, 2020

I remember...

I remember like it was yesterday.
Soon this will be 20 years ago. I was part of a hardware troubleshooting, diagnostics and calibration team. A dream job! The Recruiter pursued this employment opportunity, and after three months, I was finally on board. Wow! A dream job that utilized my technical knowledge and experience from 20 years earlier. That earlier employment had lasted almost 2 decades. I was at the top, but a hostile takeover on the stock market precipitated into 18 months later being out of a job. And now, here was a dream job, everything that I brought to the table I could put into practice. At the time I was 52 years of age, about 20 to 25 years older than the senior individuals in the hardware devices team. Three months of training on their products, little difficulty, it was a breeze. Troubleshooting practice at the end of each class, I was able to diagnose usually in one-half or one-third of the time of all others in the class. This was an 8-foot long printer, not as complex as the mainframe technology of 20 years earlier. Back in those days, the disk controller alone was the physical size of a stand up soft drink coolers, the kind with the two sliding glass doors.
I began to see patterns during the first three months of working with the team. I remember, like they were yesterday, statements made to me by a coworker passing by.
"Howard, there is nothing you have to say that we want to hear." ~ senior co-worker
"Howard, you are a perfectionist you will never survive here." ~ senior co-worker
"Howard, you do not have to say a word, and I find you offensive." ~ senior Director (had hired me)
A short time later, I was given a letter to sign which "doubled" the severance not to take them to court for wrongful dismissal.

During these two years of employment, I had returned to my rural home community during the Christmas season. I dropped into the local watering hole, had one beer, to see who was there. I sat at the end of the bar, had no intention of staying very long. A short conversation with one of the residents who sat at the far end of the bar. "My house is paid for, and since Faye passed away, I don't need much to stay here in my home area. I would have gladly taken a janitor's job at the local potash mine."
Here is the slurred response from the resident, holding a management position at the mine. "Howard, you are too smart for us, we don't want you here!"

I decided to post this dialogue because of a conversation a few days ago.
We sat across from each other at the A&W from out of nowhere came the following.
"Howard, you are smart. Howard, you are a teacher. Howard, I don't want to listen to you."
Three statements one after the other not prompted by anything, an emotional response of defence.

So looking back, where do we go from here?
"Patterns", yes I see patterns, I see patterns everywhere.
A long time ago in 1969, I applied for a job referred by a coworker. I arrived and stated where I was from and the person that had recommended me. Charlie was his name, the local manager. A smile on his face come in Howard, sit down. I have a short test for you to take and then we will get started.
He brought the test, I sat and finished it rather quickly. It didn't seem to make much sense to me at the time, how could something so simple be the preamble for a high-tech job in computers. It was a series of objects on pages where I had to pick the one that was different. This was child's play! I gave the test back to him, completed in a rather short time. Charlie said, "this will only take me a minute, I will go back to my office and lay a template over your answers."
Few minutes later Charlie came back to the reception area. All I remember from that many years ago was that he had an odd look on his face. He said "are you in a hurry, can you stay a little bit longer? I need to make a phone call." Yes, I stayed and he went back to his office to make a phone call. I don't recall how long the phone call took, but my only recollection was that I was hired on the spot.

So I'm 71 years of age, and I appear to be very good at recognizing patterns. For more than a decade, my pursuit of pattern recognition has shifted from fixing things to observations of behaviours of our species. Wow, that's fantastic! It appears I've painted myself into a tighter corner. The lifetime experience allows for a quicker assessment of personal interactions. To summarize, "… I see what you're up to." "… I know what you just did."
It's all about pattern recognition, patterns of human behaviour. The socially conditioned responses many people have to life events. The learned behaviours. Quite specifically, the toxic male learned behaviours. We observe everywhere, being exposed for what they truly are.

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