There’s this guy I know. He’s a terrible listener. That’s not to take away from the type of professional he is, or his ability in other departments, it’s just a fact. He’s a terrible listener. Always has been.
His name is Stop Light. You may have heard of him. He likes to hang out at intersections—even when he’s off duty he just stays there, for fun, flashing his yellow or red light—and tell people when they can and cannot go. Which is something he takes very seriously. For example, the other day, I was running a few minutes late and and found myself fast approaching Stop Light. As I drew closer, I politely asked Stop Light if he would stay green. Upon which, he immediately turned yellow and then red without so much as considering my request. Can you believe that?
Here’s the kicker, though. That wasn’t an isolated incident. This sort of thing happens daily. Sometimes it happens when I’m approaching Stop Light, sometimes it happens when I’m already sitting there abiding by HIS rules. And no matter how polite I am, or what I’m trying to do, it’s always the same: complete and utter neglect. I could be on my way to the hospital to check on a family member (who’s not in any dire condition or imminent danger, maybe a sprained ankle, but it looked bad at first and I’m trying to show my support), or an important meeting (with Google, probably, who want to buy the App I’m about to think of), or to get a free ice cream cone (because I was caller number seven on an obscure radio show, but to capitalize on my good fortune I have to get there in ten minutes or less otherwise my winnings go to caller number eight, who is already there), and it still wouldn’t change a thing.
Even so, if that was it, I think I could get past it. I could respect the fact that Stop Light is just doing his job. Quite admirably, too. He’s actually one of the better workers I know. If we all had the same professionalism and work ethic as Stop Light, I’m sure things would run a little smoother, people would be disappointed less, and the world would generally be a better place. But it gets worse. This neglect happens at all hours of the day. Here’s what I mean:
It’s the middle of the night—2 a.m. or 3 a.m. You’re coming home from a long road trip, or finishing up a late shift at work, or returning from a night out on the town. You’re exhausted and all you want is to get back to the comfort of your home, maybe microwave a corn dog or two, and slip into bed and bury yourself under the blankets. But, before you can do that, you have to navigate past your good friend Stop Light. Which may seem like a simple enough task, but, unfortunately, Stop Light likes to make things difficult. Nine times out of ten, he’s going to stop you. And not only that, but he’s going to make you sit there longer than you have to. There’s no reasoning with him. You can tell him how nobody is around for miles—not a single car has passed within the last 30 minutes, and not another one will for another 45 minutes when Tad and his buddies make their way to IHOP for some middle of the night pancakes—or how tired you are, he’s simply not willing to listen, no matter the circumstance. And that’s what bugs me.
Look, I’m sure Stop Light can be a nice guy. Heck, I could see us being friends and grabbing drinks or going rock climbing together on weekends. Sadly, though, unless something changes, that’ll never happen. I’ll keep asking for little favors, hoping my words are heard one day, and that we can put all this I’m better than you stuff behind us. But, for now and the foreseeable future, I’ll have to accept Stop Light for what he is: the ultimate professional AND the worst listener I know.