What About Bob

Ever meet someone you can’t tell anything to?  
I met Bob on a job site when I was in my twenties. I’d worked for a particular electrical company as a third year then moved because work kept drying up. A year later I returned as a favour for a month because I had a good relationship with the owner and my new company had a lull between bigger jobs. 
When I returned I met Bob. 
Some of the crew I’d run during my time there I knew from before, but Bob was new. 
Bob himself wasn’t new, he was well into his fifties and had spent his years in the oil patch but was now a first year electrical apprentice. 
The owner of the company put me into my previous role of job foreman and I found myself on site in a familiar capacity, doing a job I’d done hundreds of times. 
I passed out instructions and everyone went to work, but on my way out of the room I heard muttering behind me. 
I should clarify that muttering was not exactly tolerated by my mom or dad growing up, so I wasn’t accustomed to it. If you don’t have something clear to say I wouldn’t recommend waiting until my mom turns her Irish back and mutter darkly, not if you want to eat and live indoors. 
Healthy people don’t mutter things, they say things clearly and make eye contact and mind their manners because everything they say can, and will be used against them in the court of dad. And believe me, dad had no problem stopping his life to teach his sons how the world actually worked. 
I turned around and spoke clearly “What was that Bob?”
Mutter mutter. 
“I can’t hear you. Speak up please”
“Well, it’s just that this seems a little wasteful”
Me: “?”
Bob: “If we did it this other way it would use less wire”. 
Now Bob was actually right about his way being less wasteful. In fact, I agreed with him but the way he was going about the thing was wasting time for both of us. 
“Yeah I get it Bob, but when I was here last the owner preferred it the way I showed you. There are a hundred ways to do it, but I want to get PAID, so let’s just do it like this?”
Bob (“mutter mutter”). 
Me “WHAT?”
Bob muttering (“do you always do what you’re told Corey?”).
Me not muttering “Yeah Bob I do because I want to get PAID!””(and I don’t want to be a fifty-something-year-old first year starting from scratch because nobody can tell me anything)” I muttered as I walked down a floor.
Bob soon earned himself a nickname in that company and was referred thereafter as “Bob the Horses’ Rear End”. It was both descriptive and accurate. He just couldn’t help trying to exert authority he didn’t have when he didn’t know anything and had zero experience and zero results in his life that had anything to do with our trade. That just rubs people the wrong way. 
Bob just couldn’t back down from his own thoughts that he was right, even if it would get him a better result on a job or his career. He demanded respect without results. He’d rather argue to prove a point than take the same amount of time and complete the task he was arguing about in the first place. 
Canadian society is not results oriented anymore, we are image oriented. This means we’d rather appear fruitful and successful because the rungs on that ladder are few compared to how many completely necessary steps are on the ladder to actual success that gets the end result we want. 
I really do feel like the Canadian sickness of “we can’t cut our losses when we’re wrong” has been proven in nearly comedic ways over covid in 2020. (The rest of this paragraph I wrote and erased to maintain my own sanity, however therapeutic it was:) 
Bob had a decision to make years ago that he got wrong, but because of his pride the next time a similar opportunity presented itself he sent the same neural response down the same pipe to the same destination because it’s slightly easier than regretting something and learning from it. 
Mistakes make some of us prouder and more stubborn, they make others of us humble and wiser. 
Our response to outside correction decides our success, but someone with only a strong internal process finds themselves alone in thought patterns even when living with other people. 
Things happen to them and it only serves to concrete the first decision in their minds, rather than causing this thing called evaluation, which leads to changing their next one. 
Evaluation is a must if we don’t want to watch a replay of the mistakes of 2020. 
Or we can just repeat the Bob-like phrases we memorized that make us seem right to ourselves to avoid looking at the actual results that affected so many people. 
Part of the temptation Bob fell for was he surrounded himself with people like himself, but if you remove everyone who disagrees pretty soon you’re left with
Just Bob. 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s