the Sweet Smell of Burning Fur (plonq) wrote,
the Sweet Smell of Burning Fur
plonq

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I can kill you with my mind.

Actually I can't, which is why we have the same number of Project Managers walking around in our company today as we did yesterday. I had the misfortune of dealing with a particularly obtuse individual over the past couple of days, and I narrowly avoided having to deal with him today in an unrelated incident. A co-worker asked me - nay, outright begged me to sit in on a conference call with him and some database architects to help interpret what they were asking into English for him. I finally agreed, and we returned to his desk to discovered that the call had been subsequently rescheduled for tomorrow.

Not to be deterred, he pestered one of the DBA contractors to call him anyway so that we could discuss it. In the mean time, I was complaining to him about how I'd had some trouble communicating with them over the past couple of days, and in particular how the Project Manager had kept asking me a confusing question on the phone (I was pretty sure he was mixing up his database terms in a way that made no sense), but rather than letting me talk to the architects, he just kept repeating his question to me over and over again, in spite of the fact that I could not figure out what he was asking for. He got more and more upset each time he asked.

My co-worker said, "Oh, that sounds like L. He's the one who was organizing this call." Apparently L was the reason why he and the DB Architects could not effectively communicate. After spending five minutes on the phone talking directly to the DBA without having L interfering with our discussion, we quickly narrowed in on the problem, and worked out an action plan for tackling it.

When I took the BA courses a couple of years back, I remember thinking, "Wow, that an utterly useless role this is. If I ever got a job doing this and then we ever had to evacuate from the planet, I would feel honour bound to give up my seat on the escape ship to somebody who would actually serve a meaningful purpose to humanity." I wondered what role could possibly be more useless than a BA until I had dealings with this PM. We are like the telephone handset cleaners from the Hitch-hiker's Guide.

---

Plonq held the receiver away form his ear and stared at it with disapproval. There were words emerging from the mouth hole of the person at the other end, but somehow they were losing all meaning sometime between when they emerged from that individuals cortex, passed through is mouth, followed the wires to his office, and finally emerged from the earpiece. He held the receiver in his left hand and manoeuvred his coffee around the phone cord with his right so that he could take a sip before the last of its heat dissipated.

"Um," he interjected, holding the phone back up to his muzzle. "I hate to interrupt again, but I am still not understanding exactly what you are asking me to do. Could you please reword it into proper speech, or at least reorder the words in a way that is not meaningless?"

"I don't know what you are not understanding," said the Project Manager at the other end tartly. Plonq could imagine the other's whiskers bristling, even though he was not even sure if the other was a species that sported whiskers that could bristle. "It's a little late in the game for you to not be understanding me. I think it is a very simple request. This is a Severity One issue, so what I need you to do is..." As the other began to reiterate his meaningless request in exactly the same wording has he had used earlier, the little snow leopard began to idly wonder if Project Managers would taste better with a red wine reduction or a gastrique - assuming they were still edible after you had mangled them enough to achieve catharsis.

"Um," he interjected again when the caller paused for breath. "I don't mean to be rude, but you just repeated what you said earlier. I am thinking that maybe you are talking to the wrong person. If I don't know what you want, then you are probably going out of scope for my role here." He vaguely remembered the word "scope" as being one of those trigger words that would set off BA's and PM's.

"I don't know why you are having a problem with this," said the Project Manager angrily. "I am parroting exactly what I was told to say, and I don't know any other way to say it. Hang on, maybe if I yell it slowly you will start to understand."

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