06 October 2008

Numbskull Nirvana

Given My recent personal experience with the subspecies Empleatus gubernatalis, otherwise known as the common government employee, I reached a point where I simply had to look at this creepy-crawly with fresh eyes, to actually take in what I was seeing in  a new light. It was like being in a roach-infested cottage after a three-week confinement and suddenly realizing "Hey, they don't all look exactly alike!"

And in that observation period, a sort of rediscovery of the underside of a large damp rock, I noticed a quiet creature ambling through the muck. And when I saw one, I saw several, as when the laser-dotted picture you look at with your eyes crossed instantly goes from "cloud" to "castle."

There they went: Placid, serene, almost-but-not-quite indifferent to the environment. Moving with a combination of purpose and drift that apes an empty sailboat in a modest wind. When engaged by another person, they invariably have the same first expression, a sort of semi-smile that is 2 parts tolerance, 1 part recognition and their eyes focus an inch in front of the person's face then defocus to a horizon about 600 feet away. The face of amused patience, as if a ladybug had landed on their desk.

Once recognized, I simply had to meet them, or at least, some of them. Powering through their ladybug look with fierce concentration, I asked a few of them: "What do you like about your job?"

Bingo! Couldn't have done a better job of smacking them awake if I'd hit them with a pitchfork. Eyes widened, hint of panic, a look around, refocusing on Me (good choice!) and a stuttered-startled attempt at an answer that boiled down to "I don't know."

Oh but they did! My next question was usually "How long have you been here?" followed by "Have you searched for another job since?", at which point the confusion gave way to suspicion. I told them I was looking for a job and thought that maybe...

And they invariably went back to form! The 2 parts tolerance, 1 part amusement face clicked into place, but now it had glinty eyes. They talked, they seemed eager to talk, almost bragging about their niche, their space. Six people, some 90 minutes of conversation and their answers could be boiled down to three major pieces of advice:

1) Don't be ambitious.

2) Pretend to pay attention.

3) Once you know what you have to do, let the rest hang.

Don't think, don't feel, don't try too hard...

Numbskull Nirvana.

Once you see the first one, you'll see all of them.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

No comments: