Acronyms and industry lingo memories have recently come back on my radar and I find myself musing over tales of the past….
The second website I ever built, was a campaign website for a local sheriff’s election candidate.
We had discussed colors, I had about info, backstory, the timeline of his careers etc.
Mission statement, main campaign platform points, pictures and the logo his friend had made for him.
Then he sent me his ‘tagline’ his team of supporters had come up with.
Leadership, integrity & experience –
Sounded good and sounded true for what I knew of the man.
Just about until I put it in the heading, with Title Case in the selected font that would portray tradition and strength – –
All I saw upon ‘previewing’ the header look the first time, was
Oh, No, no no no! That simply won’t do….
I immediately called him and told him to go back to his think tank and come up with something different, but they were adamant about the words.
So I simply changed it to Leadership, Experience & Integrity
I chuckled and said to him, “well, if others see the world as I often do, all they’ll think of is being welcomed to Hawaii and it’ll give them warm fuzzies in the emotional part OR maybe, subconsciously, they’ll vote for you in hopes they win a trip to Hawaii, don’t ya think??”
Yes, I have a weird way of entertaining myself – but, such thoughts have been a part of me for so long, are often the only things left that carry me through hard times, I’m loathe to straighten up, be serious, mature and professional… in short, give up such ways of being..
Between career changes, side jobs, periods spent in temporary labor force, contract jobs and various things I must learn in order to properly understand the world my clients live in and build their website for them, I have picked up lingo and acronyms from many industries, hobbies, software tools and causes.
Sometimes, for a new job, I would cart home Policies, Rules and Procedures 3 inches thick with attendant appendices filled with short hand descriptions, acronyms and definitions, to memorize so I could do my job properly and keep myself out of trouble.
Sometimes, I worked so hard at memorizing them, in order to get up to speed, pass my probationary period, etc., it took me awhile to figure out that many of my co-workers, both new and old hats, hadn’t done the same….and when they were silent after I spouted off some idea in a meeting, using all the lingo, it wasn’t because they either hated or were considering my proposal as possibility…
They simply had no idea what I just said….
Let the Fun Begin
Once I did grasp what the issue was, I just couldn’t help myself.
I started making up my own acronyms, and kept pushing the hilarity further and further, all while waiting with baited breath, to see who would finally be brave enough to call me out on it and ask, “What does that stand for? Not familiar with that….”
Took nearly 6 months, after 7 project proposals had been approved, completed and did in fact, quickly deliver the ROI I had projected, before I got ‘caught’.
ROI – Return on Investment
Not in spectacular fashion – wasn’t fired, wasn’t humiliated in front of the top managers or bigwig clientele….
It was rather not what I expected at all –
Just a quiet question from my boss, in the confines of his office, after so many others had gone home and he and I both had uninterrupted time to discuss strategy, project time lines and create the schedule for the upcoming projects risk management profile – –
All which sounds really important and sophisticated….
Until I tell you the truth about quiet early morning or late night sessions.
All they really entailed was me educating him on what all the various project points, sticky notes with numbers on them and lines drawn between various points on the butcher paper that was strung all the way around my cubicle walls, full of words, acronyms, my own version of handwriting/short hand notes, really meant, so he could put them into the fancy project management software to make a pretty report and manage the management of it all, for the upcoming phases I and another temp were building.
She and I saw clearly what we were building, and how to approach it, but in vast companies with huge budgets, several layers of management and important folks needed to be continually reported to and assured all was proceeding as planned, or, alternatively, given really important sounding alternatives to why there were delays, challenges or obstacles.
Side note*. Most of my creative writing education was learned on the job, compiling reports for people so far removed from daily operations, they really had no clue what they were actually in charge of managing OR putting together training for daily operational folks so they could grasp what the higher ups were really trying to achieve in the 100 page manifesto they had just put out to the teeming plebian masses.
The moment of Truth
He and I had finished up with him re-adjusting two later phases because the numbered sticky notes of what phase to do when, had been changed in my cubicle, after I learned more about the reality of the process steps, during a random conversation with a minor department head, down in the smoker’s area.
I’ve often discovered, there is the PRP (Policy, Rule & Procedures) version of how work gets done, and then there is the BOG (Boots on Ground) version of how it actually, everyday, gets done…..
What is FFMS?
“Hmmm?” I replied distractedly, as I was preparing to launch into the next list of steps once he quit typing and I was struggling to get on the track his train of thought had jumped over to.
“FFMS – you know, you often refer to it in your proposal presentations. I finally looked it up in our list, it isn’t there, what does it stand for? Is it a database or tech thing?”
I smiled. Then I tried to put on a straight face, failed and finally laughed.
The List to which he referred was a two-sided, standard letter sized sheet of paper with margins set at .5″ all around, three columns on each side, filled with with Acronyms listed front and back in size 10 pt font.
It was a bear – took me almost a week to memorize fully – even longer to figure out what portion of the project/process line all those things even fell in. Some I never did track down and about 1/3 of them were left over from the ‘old days’ and were only useful when talking to a war horse who had worked there for 15 or 20 years.
Fat Finger Mistakes Syndrome
I then told him I was surprised no one had asked me before – were they all too scared to admit they didn’t know? Weren’t listening? Figured I was a tech geek, which I’m not and still ain’t, but well….
And they simply didn’t expect to understand anything other than my promise if such and such were done, it would improve quality, timeliness and save money?
He frowned….then he smiled, then he looked serious….
“Tone it down some – one of the clients asked me today and I used the ‘geek speak’ excuse for you, but if you get caught by a client, makes me look like an idiot for hiring you – you’re doing good work, so don’t fuck it up.”
Then he smiled and said, “That is a good one though! Now what about HUA?”
I hadn’t used that one in client meetings.
It was only trucked out when, in pure frustration with what appeared to me to be pure obliviousness, or pure territorial reactions/fears, various folks decided to dig in their heels and say no, to anything and everything, even the things that would have made their work day way less stressful were proposed, or, were on a quest to display how politically powerful they were in the office.
“You don’t want to know and I don’t use it with any but the most stubborn who can’t listen…..(he raises an eyebrow, and waits….)
FINE! Since you asked and I figure you will understand, it means “Head Up Arse” and I promise not to use it again…”
He really did laugh then and said, “Nope, when you’re talking to Mr. X when he drags out meetings trying to look important? You have my full backing to use it. No problems there…”
See? I often fall in a manure pile of my own making and somehow am seen as top of the line fertilizer.
and…I still have my ‘framed goodbye card’ signed by my co-workers and him, when I gave notice and resigned from that position, on which, his bold writing displays a quote from Wizard of Oz, “I shall miss you the most, scarecrow”. And sometimes I dig it out of the memory box, read it and think of that wonderful boss, I once worked for…..even though he never let me forget he could never remember just why he hired me instead of the really smart gal with a Masters degree in technology…. I still miss working with him…often…and how I learned to see the reminder as early warning I was skirting on the perimeter of violating some hard lines in his world….
I suppose, really, I’ll never get over my desire to bring the ludicrous to the places where folks take themselves so seriously, they end up being nothing but pompous arse-wipes.
There is just too much to be gained by continuing and too much to lose if I let go of such things, to my continued way of thinking.
Most arrogantly and simply because in the end, it is, all about me.
I have no wish to follow a leader into this field of battle or another, who wishes only to surround themselves with “Yes, boss, whatever you say boss, aren’t you brilliant! boss…” people.
I understand following orders in military and high possibility of injury/death on some fronts – I get that – and yet, so many other things that fill modern world? That are treated as if they are life/death matters? I fail to see anything other than feeding of this or that other ego….
The ‘surround themselves by “Yes Puppets” leaders? Often do massive destruction and I, for one, have no wish to aide and abet them in their conquests.
And all it takes is me making up stories or acronyms, waiting to be caught, to learn fully, just what kind of leader they really are.
Dicey and risky to me, overall, I guess – on the other hand?
Quickest easiest way to separate the chaff from the grain, to my mind – and I learn a lot, all along the way – sometimes quickly and easily and sometimes the hard way – and well – in the end – the fields of battle I now play in?
Just aren’t a matter of life and death – they are simply a step by step matter of building a castle and then defending the ground that surrounds it – that is the only project management I personally know and it is strewn with hopes and desires, attacks and gains, disappointments and achievements – gains and losses….
In short, I, like everyone else, wades through the game of Life – sometimes on the perimeters, sometimes in the thick of things and sometimes, we hide from it….
P.S. – Yes, I secretly have a LOT of FUN and get a lot of chuckling to meself fun out of closing out a long arse post by including “In short” at the end of it – Those who read to the bottom and comment upon the incongruity of such a line?
P.S.S. – Yup, entertaining meself – because I’m arrogant and it’s all about me and my blog….
AWESOME! Spell check FINALLY doesn’t mark incongruity as a ‘misspelled word”. FINALLY! Been waiting years since I first learned that word didn’t exist in online dictionaries!!!
My work here, is done – at least on the ‘incongruity’ front…..