Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Don't Beat a Dead Horse.....even if you want to.

I couldn't really come up with a good analogy for what I want to say, but "don't beat a dead horse" was the first thing that came to mind. Let me esplain somthin' first. When I decided I wanted to become an architect at the tender age of 7, I was avidly insistent that I would never, Ever, EVEN IF MY LIFE DEPENDED ON IT, do any computer drafting. I was going to go Old-School, I was going to be sitting in a studio at the top of an industrial building with my slide-ruler and pencil sharpener, maybe I would have upgraded to an electric eraser, but that was like the technological limit. In my defense, I was young and stupid, not to mention the fact that my reference when it came to being an architect came from reading about people who died before my Dad was born. So I honestly thought it would be possible to not use a computer. Little did I know people were drafting in AutoCAD back when I was still spitting up on myself. Basically I am telling you this because I kind of get that whole résistance à Techology (Note: my culture-infused blogging). If you've got the pull to not touch a computer in this day and age and you still make a decent living as an architect, you deserve a flipping award in my book. But there is also a difference between resisting computer drafting and being able to open and print a freakin' pdf on your lonesome. To me there is a distinct difference between being Old-School and being Obsolete.
As you might have guessed I work with a dude walking that line of distinction. I realize I am the youngest person here, which gives the appearance of me being all low on the totem and shit. And I've got the best skills when it comes to this here computer-machine. When my fingers engage with my keyboard and mouse, magic happens. I am like Johnny, my computer is my fiddle and ain't no Devil comin' here to take my soul.....although I really couldn't do much with a gold computer....whoa gettin' off the tracks....anyway like I said, I realize I am a youngin', but we're not talking inexperience. I have 7 years of school, comin' up 8 years of working in an office (almost 3 at this firm), and I am licensed. Which means I don't sit in the corner and draw stair details all day no mo'. I done my time peeps, I earned my keep. I feel like that entitles me to not be bothered by piddly shit like printing a file for some dude who probably started working back when ladies weren't allowed to wear pants. Whoa....calm down there Natalie-devil. Flames is comin' out of my nose.
So I am usually someone who will help a brotha out. I am not a mega-bitch or anything. But let's look at how this situation has started grindin' my last nerve. Couple weeks ago, said old-dude comes over with a sticky note and asks if I can print the two files listed on said sticky note for him, when I get a chance. It wasn't too busy of a day, so sure. I send it off to the printer and go about life, no skin off my back. Next day, foagy returns and says 'can you print those again fur me pleeeeeesse?'. Sure, but is this going to turn into a trend?- thinks me. Couple days pass, man-child returns with a sheet of paper with a list of other files to print off. By this time, I am full swing working on a deadline. Kind of an annoying interruption, but whatever it will take less time to just print them than put up a fight. Then today, he comes over again with another piece of paper, at this point I want to set his little pieces of paper on fire while he is holding them. Still I keep my trap shut and just send it off. But obviously the fuming in my brain hasn't ceased.
So here's where the twist in my panties is. First off, there are four architects in this office. I was the second one hired. Which means for 8 glorious months it was me and the big man = bliss. Then we started getting a little busy, along came numero 3, who technically was more experienced than me, but he was awesome, so I was cool with him comin' in and shovin' me down a notch. Me and numero 3 is like two peas in a pod...a pretty quiet pod because we don't need to chatter on and on to get along. We both bring something to the table. I bring the speedy fingers and tech.-knowledge and he brings the specification and construction experience to help edumacate me some mores. Gotta keep learnin' people, don't let yer brains get all mushy-like. A year or so later old-dude enters the scene. He didn't come in as a boss-figure, per se. It is kind of hard to explain this part. Basically we had a main-design-guru out in our Florida office. His job was to go out and schmooze the new clients, show them pretty pictures and get them interested in hiring us. Then they hire us, then people like numero 3 and I come up with the real design. They wanted to add that sort of capacity out here in our Colorado office, so old-dude was brought in. Shortly after that the dude in Florida retired, making numero 4 in our office the head of architectural design/marketing for the entire company. So technically he is pretty high up, but he isn't my superior because we do different things, if that makes sense. I still work under the guy who hired me, who rocks FYI. Sure there are days when I think back to how awesome it was when just the twos of us ran about the country kickin' ass and takin' names, but I am flexible, I can adapt.
So he's not really my boss, but I am still respectful enough to realize that he is higher up on the company ladder. But, now you also realize that I am not the only person on this earth (i.e. in this office) who he could go to to print his files. In fact, there is this guy here, he is known as the I.T. guy, you know the person you go to when you need to learn how to open a file, select one of three printers, and click "print". So in my mind, I shouldn't have ever been involved in old-dude's sticky note requests. The fact that he has come time and again is starting to make me feel like he thinks very little of me. I mean, is it because I am a chick? Or is that just me being overly sensitive?
Well what am I going to do about it? The thing that came to mind was that old saying about "teach a man to fish....blah blah". I am trying to decide if I e-mail him the link (strange how he can read and write e-mails, but can't print a pdf....I digress) to the folder with all the files in it that he keeps asking me to print and say something like 'I've noticed you've needed a lot of these files, here is where they are located so you can print them whenever you need them. I can show you how if you have questions', if that will come off totally bitchy and stuck-up? Maybe he doesn't realize how easy it is to print them? Maybe if I show him, he will never bug me again about it? But there is this side of me that doesn't want him to feel bad about himself. As much as I want to light him on fire with my evil eyes, I also don't ever want to make him feel like I am looking down on him, which I obviously am, but I don't want him to have hurt feelings by knowing that. Dichotomy? I think so. The good news is he is out of the office for the rest of the week. Meaning if I send the e-mail while he is away, then he won't be able to just walk over and be like 'I must be bugging the crap out of you'. I won't be able to lie if he says that, or at least my eyes won't lie. So I think I need to do it.


  1. Tell him how to print his own damn files. He obviously views you as an admin/architect and that should chap your hide.

    I had a similar situation with a guy who was impossible to work with - he was my father's age so I asked my dad the best way to deal with him. My dad's response was to "Kill him with kindness and do your job really well". After a year, I went back to my dad as things hadn't improved and my dad said "break out your battle ax, its time to get tough". So I did. And I'm still at the company but that old cooter resigned over a year ago.

    Now granted, you're not trying to get rid of this guy but it taught me a very valuable lesson. Not everyone has good intentions, not all old men are sweet and many of them are female degrading asses.

  2. I agree, tell him how to do it himself. I think the little email you came up with sounds just fine. And it's probably a bonus that he's not around when you send it. That would get on my last nerve though!

  3. definitely send the email. He probaby knows he's taking advantage of you, but thinks he can get away with it. Stick up for yourself - you're not his secretary and if he can't figure out how to print a pdf, maybe it's time for a little tutorial from the IT guy. Good luck!

  4. Phew - I agree with all of the ladies up above. Send him a respectful email explaining how to do it. If he continues to come to you and treat you like admin instead of architect, have a talk and TELL him you're feeling that way. He can either (1) explain to you why he was asking you, or (2) lie about his reasons but realize you're onto him and hopefully he'll quit.

  5. I would send that email you suggested - show him how to do it and tell him that you don't mind helping him out but it's really easy to do it on your own - see!

    Hope it works for you!