Thursday, March 16, 2017

Lacking Life Skills

"What basic life skill are you constantly amazed others lack?"

I asked this on Facebook figuring the first answer I'd get would be "common sense". It wasn't. That was the second answer I got.

The first answer came from Haley, the meat department manager at my store. "Ripping labels".


Haley was briefly my second in command when I was meat manager. I was promoted into that job based on having been a department manager for 13 years...none of which was in meat, and none of which was at Walmart. It fell on Haley to train me, which must have been humiliating for her: she had applied for my job.  I knew this going in, but of course couldn't acknowledge it.

Haley did the best she could with me, but there were things she didn't know, not having been a department manager herself. And Walmart is comically bad at training. They have a solid training program in place...the problem is nobody uses it. Ever. At all.
You learn what you have to do from CBL (computer-based learning) modules. Once you've done that, you're supposed to go out and practice tasks under the supervision of your "coach",.  
Problem: you don't have a coach. And if you do, (s)he's never available to help you. And if (s)he is, it's only for the briefest minute, so invariably (s)he does the task at lightning speed in front of you and you're left to muddle through how it was done.  
Case in point: Walmart's computer system. It's light years ahead of other chains in terms of what it can do. But very few people know even a fraction of the capability, because you're never shown more than the bare essentials.

Anyway...that first day, I almost cried. Because the very first task I had to do was process discounted (close-code) meat and affix labels to it.

Great. Sub-assembly redux.

The damned labels wouldn't come off their backing, and when they did, they tore in two or three places they weren't supposed to. Or they wouldn't come out of the printer at all.

Haley watched me struggle with these things with patience I frankly admire. She helped me several times, and all the while I'm sure she was thinking and they gave this job to him and not me?

I got better with practice. At that task, anyway. The things I didn't know, especially the things I didn't know I didn't know, accumulated until they moved me out. And when they did it, they spent ten minutes telling me that "I wasn't set up for success".

Now, back in dairy, we have the same discount program for close-code stuff, and so I'm ripping labels once again. I was busily doing that yesterday when Haley sauntered up to me, all glowing because she had completed her mods. I told her how I couldn't rip these labels in front of her without thinking of that first day, and how utterly pathetic I had been at what, let's face it, is a simple physical task.
She said all the graceful things about how she tore the labels at first too, and as if on cue, the label I was working on tore right down the middle. And Haley had to point it out because I was oblivious. I shooed her away, feeling more than a little chagrined.

(I did tell her, as I was shuffled out and she was shuffled in, that she should have had the job all along. Since then, she's been one of several reasons why I don't mind getting out of bed in the morning.)

Life skills. My friend Craig was the one to suggest "understanding/compassion", which I'd shorten to "empathy", and that's the first one that leaps to mind for me.  We live in a society where empathy is not prized and is often ridiculed. These days us empaths get called "snowflakes". Which I find kind of amusing, because the real snowflakes are the people who can't abide differing world views. Such people exist on both sides of, well, any spectrum.

Kathy suggested "basic math skills", and that's another one that irks me: yes, I get it, you have a calculator on you, but kitchen-table arithmetic shouldn't demand a calculator. I'm horrible at mathematics, but I don't think of arithmetic as math any more than I think of reading a warning label as reading a novel.

Numerous people came back with "spelling and grammar", and that's another one that really peeves me off. We all learned it, people. It's part and parcel of being a functional human being, as far as I'm concerned.

Cooking and basic home repair: Stipulated, these are important skills to have. So is basic automotive repair. The thing about these skills, though, is that you really have to have an interest in them to want to acquire them.

I have a bland palette, an affinity for comfort food, and a very cavalier culinary attitude in general. Many of my friends and both my loves are crackerjack cooks. It's not something I'm passionate about.  As for repairs..mea culpa on that. Home repairs are like ripping labels or trying to replicate subassemblies. They require mechanical aptitude I simply do not have. Could I get it? Of course. Is it worth the frustration? You may have to be me, or at least like me, for that question to be the serious brainer (as opposed to a no-brainer) that I find it. If you could only see just how pitifully bad I am at this stuff, and the need for it is intermittent enough that I never get practice, and who wants practice anyway?

A big one is situational awareness. People who stop and gab in the middle of fucking doorways, GRRRRR. At the top of escalators, GRRRR.
Now, I don't have situational awareness much of the time: the outer world is background noise for me. But because I do have empathy, I try to make a point of not getting in the way. I'm not always successful at this, but that's because my spatial awareness is awful. I have very little ability to judge how much space I am taking up, and how much space there is between me and that OW FUCK object.

What life skills are you amazed so many others lack?

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