Monday, March 26, 2012


I loved Pam. I did. Pam and I had a funny relationship, though.

It’s always good to have a hierarchy of leadership at work, and we did, but where all the other positions were laid out nicely in black and white, my job was kind of in the gray area.

When I was in college I worked for Chrysalis where we helped people with special needs. Craig owned the company. Then Mark answered to him and ran the show behind the scenes. Mark’s brother, Ryan was the programs director and ran the show by being the guy who dealt with all the office people. Under Mark were the two associate directors, Justin and Pam. Justin and Pam essentially had the same job, working with the various house managers. The house managers worked with the regular staff and the regular staff worked with the individuals with special needs.

That’s not a great overview of how the company worked, and there were some other positions in there like Human Resources, but that’s the basics of it. And then there was me. I was over the crisis team and I reported straight to Ryan, the programs director. I liked to call the shots when one of my on-call staff was called on to handle a situation. The problem was that Justin and Pam were over the house managers, and thus over the individuals themselves, so we butted heads sometimes about what should be done. Well, I didn’t really butt heads with Justin because he actually did my job before I did, so he made the same types of decisions that I would, but Pam had never done my job and we didn’t see eye to eye sometimes.

That is all just boring background stuff that formed the basis for erasing the gray area of my position. Devin, one of my crisis staff, was out on a crisis call and he needed to know what to do. Devin had Pam nearby telling him what procedure he should do, but I was also trying to communicate what I wanted done.

If I had done the simple task of calling him on the phone, none of this would have happened, but in those days we used to send messages with our pagers. I could type a little message on the little keyboard and send it straight to his pager. He’d read it and send a reply back. The last message that I sent him said, “Don’t listen to Pam. She doesn’t know what she’s talking about.” That’s all it said and apparently it was straight forward enough that he didn’t need to reply.

Then came the next day when I happened to be in Pam’s office chatting.

“Good hit yesterday,” Pam said. “A few more runs and we could have beat those guys.”

“Yeah,” I said. “Too bad we don’t have some of the players we had last year. We were the best team in the league.”

“Yeah,” she said, then turned on her computer. “Oh, looks like I got a message from you.”

“A message from me?” I said. “I didn’t send you any emails.”

Oh, but I did. I did send her a message and I watched her facial expression quickly change.

I imagine you’re guessing already what message I sent to my dear friend, Pam. That’s right. My mind what thinking Pam when I wrote that last message to Devin telling him not to listen to her My subconscious mind clicked on Pam instead of Devin to receive the message and that’s exactly where the message went. That’s why Devin didn’t reply and that’s why Ryan had to decide once and for all where I fit in the company’s line of authority. And if you think I got put above Pam and Justin in that line, you’re sorely mistaken. True story.

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