Kurt McKee

lessons learned in production

Hey there! This article was written in 2010.

It might not have aged well for any number of reasons, so keep that in mind when reading (or clicking outgoing links!).

Disinterested glad-handing

Posted 28 June 2010 in life

On Friday morning I configured some hardware at one client site, and was pleased when the process took significantly less time than I had expected. Unfortunately, I arrived at a client site that afternoon, feeling invincible, and brisked through brimming with greetings and casual compliments. After a short while I realized that I was acting like a guy I knew in college.

His name was Chris, and I couldn't stand him. He knew everyone, everyone knew him, he was friendly and funny, but he was absolutely the most disingenuous person I've ever met. I remember when I first put my finger on why I disliked him: I was seated with a group of people at the cafeteria, and as most of the group was getting ready to head out, Chris walked in. Greeting, one-liner, one-two shoulder massage, slap on the back, noncommittal deflection, big smile, and point at a guy he should totally hang out with real soon as he walks away to do the same thing at another table.

After he walked away, the rest of the group broke away, leaving me and a girl named Tiffany briefly alone at the table. Tiffany shook her head and said "You know, as nice as Chris is, I just can't stand him. If he asked me how I was and I said "Dying of cancer," he wouldn't hear it at all. He'd already be on to the next person in line. He doesn't care at all." And that was Chris.

When I realized I was acting like that on Friday, I was disgusted with myself. I know I sometimes use the mannerisms I just caricatured above, but I do it on purpose and doggone it, I usually hear and remember what the person said to me. Friday, however, I was feeling really good about myself and for some reason it manifested as disinterested glad-handing. I wasn't listening to anyone, I was just intrusively greeting people like I was fulfilling a quota.

...Nobody was dying of cancer, but still.