26 April 2005


Disconcerting day at work.

I woke up at around 4:45, spent about 45 minutes getting James back to sleep, took a shower, and drove in. I got a large cup of black coffee and spent a few hours at my desk squinting. Coffee wakes me up if I'm sleepy, but it also makes me shake and puts a strange edge on the world. Today wasn't the best day to be under the influence, as I had a 10:00 meeting to meet the new VP of Engineering.

The new VP. My boss's new boss, responsible for about 30 people in all. It's his second week, and he's making an effort to sit down and talk with everyone for half an hour or so. He seems like an interesting guy, so I was looking forward to it. I had jotted down a few notes so I would have something to talk about. I got them organized and wandered over to his office.

Then something weird happened. The VP listened very carefully to everything I had to say, took notes, remarked that I had just brought up all the major things he had learned about the situation in Engineering since he'd started, and that he could have saved a week and a half by talking to me on the first day; and added that unless I kicked and screamed, I was inevitably going to end up in management. (I'm sure this was intended as a compliment.) He had other nice things to say, too. It was a strange and very flattering meeting.

Maybe the coffee was making me paranoid, but I spent most of the morning wondering what to make of it.

In the afternoon the VP dropped by my office (God knows how he found it) and mentioned that everybody says I'm brilliant. “You probably don't usually get that kind of feedback,” he said. He's right, I don't. From what I hear, I'm an idiot.

I have to wonder what is going on.

What to do, except make some kind of crazed, doomed effort to live up to a favorable first impression?

1 comment:

alarmist said...

I've certainly never thought that you were an idiot.

A good first impression can be a terrible thing to live up to, worse in some ways than a bad one. With a bad first impression, you can always make excuses. At the least, you don't have to put any effort into improving it if you don't want to.

A good first impression is a problem, because it requires consistent effort to maintain. A bad first impression can be maintained with inertia, but a good one can't. It's almost onerous, and makes me want sometimes to make bad impressions on people so that I can do whatever I want to without worrying about whether I'm about to lose any credit with that person.

It's tempting to say that you shouldn't care at all, but this is impractical in the scenario you describe.