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Thursday, Nov. 01, 2001
I was reminded of a couple of things yesterday. At the new Taiwanese Resturant in the Strip Mall construction project.

1. It's Really Not Your Idea, It's Mine

Outfoxed: "Okay, so after 2 weeks of waiting you've got the floor plans."
Trendy Construction Manager: "Yeah, let's get started."
O: "I see you've got a conflict with your layout of the front walls."
TCM: "What? Where do you see that?"
O: "You could resolve it by reversing this door swing."
TCM: "Oh no no, no can't do that!"

A brief interlude later, after having gone through various scenarios, much drawing on paper and measuring and all the goo that goes with laying out a floor plan not on dream filled printed plans, but in a real life building, I could see that TCM was about as astute a construction manager as I am a trainer of wild boars. I could also see where the conversation was headed.

O: "Okay. I need an answer so we can start framing walls."
TCM: "Hey! If we reverse the swing of this door..."

You get the picture. Problem being that this seems to be happening more and more in this culture. People are convinced, for whatever reason, that they as individuals are the only ones who can possibly be wise enough to solve problems and take credit for them. Heaven forbid they acknowledge input from someone else, or say those fast disapearing words "Hey, that's a good idea!" So we chase our tails and await the moment when some jughead finally is enlightened enough to see the obvious, and then he decides that in order for an idea to be annointed with his blessing, it must first be his idea. It's a waste of time and a pain in the ass. It also leads to situation #2.

2. Consensus by Committee

TCM: "Hey, I just got off the phone with the architect, Outfoxed."
O: "Oh, yes? Sorry you had to get him out of the jacuzzi."
TCM: "He liked my idea about the door reversal and said to go ahead with it. Oh, and he wants to shorten the hallway by the entrance."
O: "If you do that, you won't pass fire code."

By the way, a sure fire (!) way to get the attention of architect / manager / owner is to mention the dreaded fire code, or inspection by a brooding and utterly humourless City Fire Marshall, who can shut down a project and impose fines. Nobody messes with those guys, including me. Anyway...TCM gets on the phone with the architect and a huddled and whispered conversation ensues, with many sidelong glances my way.

TCM: "We've reached a decision."
O: "Oh?"
TCM: "Yep. We can't shorten the hall because we'd run into problems with the Fire Marshall."

My brother is a Presbyterian minister who sits in on a lot of church meetings, generally as the moderator of several parishoners, and he has witnessed this phenomenon many more times than I. Small wonder his hair is more gray than mine.

I won't even get into the "Don't You Remember Me Telling You That..." scenario. In which having been proved wrong, an authority figure (or quite possibly, my wife, same thing) will encapture an idea but never verbalize it, and of course be shocked when you fail to read their mind. And says "Don't you remember..."

"Gee, sorry about that. If I'd thought you wanted it done that way I wouldn't have taken my crystal ball to the bowling alley the other night."

It is the goal of new millenium thinking to never, ever be proven wrong on even the most trivial of issues. Leads to legal problems, I guess.

Lord knows we wouldn't want that to happen.

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