As the Mind Races

by Bill Maranda

Preface

On the verge of retirement


My mind still races.

It's just that its' not racing, not thinking about work any more. Other objects of concern now control my multiple thought process.

Even when I'm at work I don't think about work anymore. Not like I used to, anyways.

Several months ago they told my partner and me that we wouldn't be needed to attend the weekly Thursday meetings any longer. We were told to just stay at our desk and help out with the clerical tasks, as the volume had recently become overwhelming.

Then I was told I didn't need to attend the Monday morning meeting anymore.

Next thing I know I'm not being called into all those ad hoc meetings, the ones that are called by headquarters anytime a crisis, real or imaginary, erupts. There was a time not too long ago when they would not have even begun the crisis meeting until I became available, as I was seen as a savior of sorts, having been a computer programmer and the management type.

They actually valued my opinions.

That concept no longer holds true.

I had become 'disposable', vanquished from their needs.

But my mind still races anyway.

I was born this way, with my brain wired for speed from the start. As I wakeup each morning I have this abundance of energy, hyperactivity they call it.

Each morning I swim a full mile, sometimes more, sometimes even an hour, but that is not enough to burn off all this pent up energy. Some days this energy seems to have become multiplied in an exponential manner. When I lived in the City at one point I was swimming 2 to 3 hours each day and riding my bike everywhere; for errands, to work, everywhere. I'm not very fast, but durable. I can last a very long time. Then there's the disco roller-skating. A couple of evenings each week I head off to the indoor rink, Saturday and Sunday mornings I'm out on the paved forest trails.

My mind always races and I really like it this way.

I sleep well at night because I'm very tired by dusk. When I go to bed each night I have a good feeling, the feeling of accomplishment at the end of each day. Why? I can say for sure, but I do.

When another 'mind racer' friend of mine changed positions, to a less demanding role at an off-sight facility, I openly asked the management at her 'going-away' luncheon,

"So which three people are going to do Lucy's work?"

In harmonic unison they all came back with the same canned answer, that 'anybody could be replaced', as if it's just another 'player' in the ball game of 'work'.

True, very true.

It's just that some of the quarterbacks out there require reinforcements.

Try to get upper management to admit it. They won't, or more accurate to say, they aren't allowed to admit it. The fact that one person is far more efficient than his co-workers might qualify them for more money, or worse yet, that they're due for a promotion, a promotion that could lead to a management position. A position that could perhaps place this person in a 'competitive' position, these silly little reflexive games we play.

It's easier, and they think cheaper, to pretend that anyone could be replaced, save themselves of course.

Sometimes there can be very little comfort in the truth.

The sad part is that some of these upper management types are mind racers, too. They witness firsthand the cronyism among management casting the skepticism of peers while endorsing the plagiarism of subordinates, all these petty, silly little games we passively play while at 'work'.

But with the 'managerial mind racer', these 'accommodate, ceremonial mind racers', even they will normally formulate, congratulate and consort with the others, certainly not wanting to make waves. After all, it could be them next. If the hardball play comes down into their own quarters they're just helplessly hoping that another yet unknown 'mind racer' will step up to the scrimmage line just in the nick of time to save the big game.

Good and Effective Management

In my early years in management I had come to realize that some people are much better workers than the general population. These are the people that seem to be able to pick up little tricks, working their magic to speed up the process, eliminating all but the most necessary steps to release the greatest amount of productivity.

They are the ones that consistently perform at the top of the ranks, the ones that 'work smart' as opposed to the ones that 'work hard'.

Management greatly relies on the mind racers to keep things running smoothly, as each one is performing the production of two or more. Once again, they won't admit this, they can't. Surely they must realize that when someone is off sick or out on vacation management can rest somewhat, knowing that these efficient ones will pick up the slack.

The good manager has become very astute at locating the mind racers amongst the staff.

If the manager is a mind racer, too, then it's even easier, as the more common attributes displayed in this personality type will have an intimate familiarity.

The mind racer is extremely well organized, being able to find relevant documents, spreadsheets and files at the touch of a button. They are usually profoundly aware of the intricacies of system functionality, and the connectivity between the various departments. They fully realize how corporate policy, the legal and moral aspects, are to be applied under different circumstances. The repetitive daily chores have become second nature. They are able to catch many of the problems in time, well before they get out of hand, so that most of the common problems become far more manageable.

One trait that is extremely precious; they tend to know how to get things done quickly, expeditiously because they have identified exactly who does which job in each of the various departments. This is not to say that they know who is in charge of each department, but rather, more precisely, they know who within the department performs a specific task.

But there is one distinguishing trait that is paramount to all the other quality attributes in revealing these fine, exemplary players.

That is inner-happiness, pure and simple.

These people, these Mind Racers, are much happier at work than the general population.

They actually seem to enjoy their job.

Probably because the workday passes so quickly, with the excessive workload dissolving those long dreary hours seemingly into a few mere seconds. Since Mind Racers have such an in-depth affixation to their job, the work itself adds some form of relative meaning, clarity to their Life. They understand the relevance of each act; each task, of every function and how it all relates to some great big fantastical master game plan.

These mind racers top-off each day with an inert feeling of extreme satisfaction, true accomplishment, as opposed to some of the 'Others', the ones who feel that a day at work is equivalent to a day of total waste.

Really good management will come to realize just who these little gems are and then combine two or more of these mind racers to function as a team.

Well, then you have truly effective management.

I have seen instances were two top performers that work well together can have the production capability of four or more 'regular' people. Like on a winning sports team, where each team member can anticipate, predict if you will, exactly what each team members will do before the ball is ever tossed. I have been on sailboats were each of us has a specific responsibility. Yet when one team member stumbles all of us are well poised to take whatever action is deemed necessary to safeguard the craft.

The opposite also holds true, where three or four human beings that dislike each other immensely are incapable of producing even one goods days' work between the bulk of them. Each one of these 'Others' will instinctively blame co-workers for performance problems, real or imaginary, making every attempt to push the responsibilities off on the 'Others', anyone other than themselves.

Much more disturbing however is that each one of the 'Others' is actually willing to exert far more effort, far more energy in avoiding work than the actual effort and energy necessary to perform the task itself, thus now multiplying the workload in an exponential manner.

Most in management are not mind racers, so they don't see these performance issues as productivity problems. They generally accept, as FACT that anyone and everyone could easily and at some point probably should be replaced, save them selves of course.

In this manner management manages pervasively and persistently to flounder, creatively stumbling while replicating and replenishing their own petty little problems amongst the entire staff, all in an unguided and unintentional management maneuver which chases the true mind racers away. Management is basically allowing, thus leaving these ''Others' to wallow in a preconceived, and rather ill conceived, accidental corporate culture.

Meetings, Many, Many Meetings

I used to go to meetings, many, many meetings.

I never truly realized how wound up I was about work until they took me off the 'meeting' schedules. It took a while for me to 'fall back', as they say.

But my mind still races away.

We had so many meetings that on the last Tuesday of each month we held a meeting to schedule these many, many meetings for the following month.

I was so busy in between these many, many meetings that I would eat my breakfast and lunch, sometimes dinner, too, at my desk. If someone came by with something of urgency while I was eating with due courtesy they would politely ask if I was 'on break'.

"My entire Life is really just one big break", I'd tell'em in a jovial voice

I really meant this, too, as I really liked keeping busy. Racing, on the go. Kept the mind going good and strong, fast, too!

Now I do clerical work.

Racing, always racing, I'm always on the go, racing.

They forced me into it, to do this clerical work. They wanted to slow me down, which it did indeed, quite a bit, too, but it no longer bothers me as much.

It wasn't the actual clerical work that bothered me so. It just felt that I was being slowed down by the 'clerical process', and also by not having any real input to correct this aspect of my day.

My involvement with this clerical work became excessive in only a short time. I found myself constantly analyzing and then re-analyzing each part of the work-flow-process, over exaggerating the true responsibilities required for a "normal" person stationed in this position.

I knew for certain that I could make things run quicker, smoother, with less friction in between departments. Increased productivity, fewer mistakes, I'm so sure that I can!

Task after task I began spotting several abundant error trends, and then devising ways to counter them. Overdosed, once again, with work needlessly taking me to an extreme as I elevated these relatively simple, mindless tasks to a concentrated state of complexity.

Meetings or no meetings, my mind forever races.

In only a few months I had stockpiled dozens of grafts and charts complete with descriptive essays on how to remedy each of the several problem areas. General folders with sub-folders where set up. Each issue dissected, categorized and cataloged, neatly filed according to my rather logical file configuration, an intricate arrangement, designed ever so neatly, for the efficient minder racers amongst the staff to retrieve easily.

One day I was ill at home with the flu, I couldn't get to work, I couldn't swim, bike or skate.

But worse yet, the mind slowed down, one of those very few and far between days that I get from time-to-time.

My mind could not race!

This is when my metamorphosis began, that sad, sad day, when with a concrete formality I suddenly realized that no one really did care what I thought about anything any longer.

Shortly thereafter I began to feel that this analytical research time truly was a total waste of my time. It felt as though I had become caught in some mythical-analytical trance, as there was no one to report my findings to, no one to address to my concerns to, no group to give a presentation of my spreadsheet and charts to.

With the mind racing so much, so fast, I felt that I was caught falling in a living dream were I finished all this really good, solid work, complete with workable solutions, too.

But I had nowhere to go with my work, no one to review it with. No one seemed to care in the very least that all of these many, many problems now had viable solutions.

But without a meeting to attend I felt that I was lost, just plain lost.

Lost. So very, very lost.

That's when it hit me, and boy did it ever hit hard. I had become the preverbal 'cog' in the preverbal 'wheel'.

I was forced to confront myself.

I had to honestly admit that I was now very apprehensive about why I was dropped from all the meetings, those many, many meetings. Why I couldn't cast my many opinions, trying to influence the others, completely dominating the conversations.

For all the intrusion, it appears to me now that I really did like going to all those meetings. The meetings made me feel needed, valuable, and much more than anything else; I could help out and be an integral part of the team.

The more meetings there were, the more I felt that way, like I was actually needed.

But I haven't been needed to explain system logic or come up with a good idea or solve a problem in several months. They just don't seem to need me any longer, not like they used to, anyway. I had to make a determination in my work Life, to set myself on solid ground once again; the question was,

"Am I going to care they don't need me any longer?"

Sometimes there can be very little comfort in the truth. Ah,..my conceitedness abounds.

At first the answer to this question was very difficult for me to accept, but now I don't miss this intrusion of work in my daily life any longer.

That's how I found myself once again, by confronting this truth.

As it turns out, the truth is that I'm just not necessary any longer.

If there's a crisis at work, confusion amongst the ranks, it's someone else's problem now, not mine. I'm no longer lost, but if they did need me, could they find me?

Who cares! That's their problem now, not mine. And that's the truth!

Look at me, as my mind races happily, speedily away.

Watch me, just watch me, as I come in, do my monotonous little clerical chores and then go home for a pleasant work-free evening.

The Newspaper = Work

When I got dropped from those many, many meetings at first I would read the entire newspaper on the train. I readily became capable of discussing current events with a certain degree of knowledge, something I haven't been able to do since college.

It's not that I don't think about work because I don't like work. The people are fantastic and environment surely is pleasant enough. I especially like the little non-work functions. These promote a central coagulate bond within the rank and file. Before, with all those meetings, I never had enough spare time for these fun things at work, the birthday parties each month, baby showers, vacation slide shows, luncheons and such.

It's more the fact that I'm no longer enmeshed in the many various responsibilities of work. They had minimized my involvement at the office to the point that there was no longer any challenge to it.

Valid stimulation in this office has become a distant memory.

These repetitive tasks are so mundane that very little if any thought process is necessary for me to function in this capacity. The system logic makes these tasks so simple most clerical people no longer concentrate on their work, choosing to listen to music headphones or converse amongst one another. This would help explain that error ratio report that at one time held me so ever spellbound. After a few days of doing the same thing over and over and over again you begin to function on auto-pilot, clicking a button to route a form to override a system decision and send the documents on their merry way.

I've come to accept my lot in Life. It makes it a lot easier for me. It makes it a lot easier for anyone that has to deal with me on a regular basis.

Think of the track athlete in training, in training all year long, for the stint in the occasional, seasonal weekend races. For four years in high school, then four more years in college this intense training goes on, just for a dozen or so races each year.

Then Graduation day comes and goes.

Now it's nine-to-five.

After work each day it's off to the health club. But rather than pushing the envelope everyday to be able to run the fastest to the encouragement of a cheering crowd on a few weekends each season it's become more of a casual event. There's nothing to prove to anyone any longer. No more need for a high score because there are no more medals to win. Those bursts of speed come only when desired, which are seldom if ever called upon.

Now it's a decent paced jog that will bring daily satisfaction.

That's what happened to me. I seldom get involved with work the way I used too.

At work I'm figuratively jogging now, with the occasional sprint if and when I'm called upon, and hopefully, I'll be in the proper mood.

But my mind still races, nonetheless. All those important things that need to get done, quickly, too.

Same thing happened with the daily newspaper.

Before being dropped from the meetings I didn't have the time to read most of it. I would divvy up the newspaper each morning, giving the sports section to one guy and the national news to another friend. I would leave the human-interest section, the part with the TV section, crossword puzzle and such in the break room.

I only wanted the local town section; as this was the sole area I felt that I could actually, feasibly have some form of input. If something of urgency was pressing in my neighborhood I really did need to know about it. Perhaps I could get involved, help out.

But just as often I had tossed that section aside as well.

I would end each day, every day, more often than not, doing work on the train, usually while revamping the discussions from the notes of those many, many meetings in my head.

This, all this, in my supposed, 'free time'.

Besides, I was never really any good at sports so there wasn't much of an interest for me. The national news seemed to be totally out of anyone's control, let alone mine, and I never really cared about the human-interest stuff anyway.

Back in the meetings days this logic seemed rational enough.

All that has changed now, as my mind races on.

Instead of worrying about work related issues I now think about having a fun weekend, repairs around the house, my nephew's graduation, teaching the dog a few new tricks, or that convertible that I've always desired.

On the train, at the office or while on lunch, work doesn't seem to matter to me any more.

Not like it used to matter, anyways.

Which is why the meetings at work meant so much to me, those meetings, those many, many meetings. They kept my mind racing full speed a 'head', everyday, racing, everyday, every night and weekends, too.

Racing, the mind keeps racing.

It gave me the feeling that I did have input, that my concerns did matter, and that someone might, they just might, value my opinion, thus granting me an ever so slight sliver of control. Adding that intense feeling of accomplishment, too, and I would truly relish this feeling. I would relish that tender feeling, night and day, everyday, as my mind raced away. Ah yes, ..my conceitedness abounds.

Which is pretty much why I have given up the newspaper completely now, for much the same reasons that I became lost from work.

Because whenever I start to read the newspaper, in a very short time I will start to get overly involved and become overly concerned. I find myself constantly analyzing and then re-analyzing each article in every section of the newspaper. Story after story I begin spotting several abundant societal trends and then devising ways for the politicians, local, national, whoever, to counter them. Once again I find myself excessively, and perhaps, needlessly, taking in the World's problems upon my shoulders to an unnecessary internal extreme, greatly elevating the state of complexity required to live in this World.

That is also why I have given up my reverent thoughts about those meetings, those many, many meetings completely now, for much the same reasons that I gave up the newspaper.

Besides, I was probably never really any good at the meetings so why should there be much of an interest for me? The national level meetings seemed to be totally out of anyone's control, let alone mine, and I never really cared about the human-interest aspect of the meetings anyway.

Now I only need to know the clerical stuff; as this is the sole area that I actually, feasibly need some form of understanding. If something of urgency is pressing in my clerical duties I really should know about it. Perhaps I could get involved, help out.

But more often than not I toss those thoughts out of my racing mind as well.

I end each day, every day avoiding work-related thoughts on the train, usually while concentrating on the weekend, fun things to do, as I don't have those many, many meetings to attend.

This, after all, this is my supposed, 'free time'.

But my mind still races.......... Anyway. All day!

I really like it this way.

Makes me want to go for a long swim, perhaps a bike ride, too. Maybe, just maybe, I'll go to the Disco Roller rink after work tonight and not think about work, not at all!

Let's face it.

It's not that I'm lazy.

It's not that I don't like my work, the monotonous little clerical tasks that they may be.

It's just that I have to many things to do; far more important things, fun things that I don't have the extra time to worry about work anymore!

So why waste my time thinking about it?

Besides, I'll even have much more time to write these silly little stories.

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