November 30, 2006

At this rate, I should prepare my Crayolas.

Throughout my life, the things I do during the day have become increasingly more complex. As an infant, I focused on things like eating and sleeping. As a toddler, I spent time playing with toys or coloring. In school, I learned the alphabet, then arithmetic, then science and civics and so on. Each progressive stage built upon prior learned lessons, with each stage being more complex or difficult than the previous. The trend continued through high school and college. As per the pattern of 20 years, I assumed such development would continue.

Thus far it has not.

Last June, as I finished graduate school, I wrote a 20 page paper discussing international economic regimes, their changes through time and the impact they have had on world trade. For another class, I evaluated the current world perspective on terrorism: its causes, impact and potential solutions. A year prior, I analyzed American foreign policy and how trade relations with China have created trade deficits, partly caused by an undervalued Yuan.

Yesterday I was coached on how to file things alphabetically. Seriously.

Apparently I'm good at doing mundane tasks. So good, in fact, that the Boston office has shipped multiple boxes to me overnight so that I can put them in to folders and send them back. True story.

Upon receipt of one of these boxes, I called the sender to ask what specifically he wanted me to do. His explanation was something like this:

"Okay, in the box there's a bunch of envelopes (there were probably a few hundred). Open them, then look at the name of the account it specifies and file it alphabetically. Like my last name is 'Smith'. So put it under 'S'. Or Mike's last name is 'Wilson', so put it under 'W'. Get it?"

He explained it this way at least twice, being sure to be painstakingly clear about how the alphabet works. He didn't bother much to explain what the documents were or why they were important. He was just extra particular about the fact than an individual had two names, a first and a last, and that they consisted of 'letters' which go in some sort of 'order'. Whatever the heck that means!

Yeah. I get it.

Talk about regression. I could have done this as an elementary schooler. Why does he feel that he needed to explain it this way? Is the assumption that the average Joe is too dim to understand the concept of alphabetizing? Are most employees like this? Whatever the matter, this dumbing down thing has gotta stop soon. I need a real job.

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