One of the worst problems I encounter in my job is getting answers to questions. I’m pretty smart, and I can work Google, so generally, I try and figure out problems on my own.
The reason for this, is because twenty minutes Googling is usually less hassle than the four-day conversation I’ll have with another colleague asking for a simple answer. And you can check Facebook whilst you wait for the pages to load.
Many would say that this isn’t “team-spirited” of me. They clearly have never encountered my colleagues.
A simple question never returns a simple answer. Not because the question is secretly not that simple, but because the majority of my colleagues could be categorised as one of several of the Seven Dwarves: Sleepy, Grumpy or Dopey.
For a while, I thought it was me. I genuinely believed for a little while that despite my thinking, saying, reading and writing a certain question, something else was appearing in front of everyone else.
So, for example, I would ask, “Could you please tell me the location of Room 42?” and my colleague would hear:
“Do you like cheese?”
So from my perspective, the conversation went something along the lines of:
Me: Where’s Room 42?
Them: I love cheese.
Me: Huh? So Room 42 is…?
Them: Yep, Cheddar is my favourite.
Me: I’m just looking for Room 42. Dear God.
Them: Not so fond of Stilton.
Me: OK, I’ll find it myself.
Them: I recommend the cheese shop on the High Street.
Me: Thanks. You bloody weirdo.
And off I would go, wandering round the building until I’d figured out the numbering system for the rooms and located Room 42. Ten minutes late, but thankfully, no more cheese involved.
So I started carefully writing down my questions and checking them with someone else to make sure exactly what I wanted to ask was being asked. Despite extensive conversations with people confirming that what I was asking would result in the answer I required, I still found myself in the midst of a conversation like this:
Me: Hello, could you please tell me where Room 42 is?
Them: We don’t have a Room 420 in this building.
Me: No, I don’t want Room 420. I want Room 42.
Them: Room 20? Oh, just down the corridor on the left.
Me: Are you being deliberately obtuse?
Them: I beg your pardon?
Me: ROOM FORTY-TWO. FORTY-TWO. A FOUR AND THEN A TWO. FOUR-TWO. FORTY-TWO. WHERE IS IT?
Them: There’s really no need to shout. Down the corridor, turn right, second door on the left.
Me: THANK YOU. ARGH.
The day I discovered a colleague who could answer my questions directly and simply, I may or may not have declared my undying love for him. I’m not really sure he knew what to do with that declaration, but he’s continued to be exceptionally helpful and co-operative at all turns.
Everyone else, however, makes me want to lie down on my office floor and cry.
One day, I’m going to do it. Someone will walk into my office and find me holding my head, rocking back and forth, letting out a high-pitched keening noise, and their only logical and reasonable response will be to lob a bottle of whiskey at me and back quickly and quietly out of the room, apologising for disturbing me.