Saturday, January 12, 2008

All quiet on the architectural front

Derek and I left for an early lunch yesterdaywith Norman and Elliot. Kellye was out with his little boy, who was sick, so he missed all the "fun". By "fun", I mean leaving for lunch at 11:25am and not returning until 1pm. We went to Snore, our favorite hep-deco breakfast and lunch spot, and had breakfast burritos and coffee and resisted the urge to put Bailey's in our cups.

We returned at 1pm to find an email from Pete saying that today was his last day at Design Associates and that he had enjoyed working with all of us (he blind carbon copied people, including me), and here's his email addressif we want to contact him in the future and that his DA email would cease to exist after today. It also ceased to exist in my email inbox.

At lunch, I explained to Norman and Elliot how Pete had behaved to towards me, the things he said, how he got my cell hone number out of Howie while acting like he was doing something really important for me and just had to get ahold of me. Elliot nearly threw up in his mouth at the "and of course we'd invite our spouses so they wouldn't freak out!" business, and even Norman was surprised. Derek said during the review for Monica, one of Jann's pretty new intern, she was excited about working at DA and loving everything...except sitting next to Pete. "She was kinda embarrassed to even say anything about it," said Derek, "but she was just so not liking being around him."

We also discussed what could we have done to help him, or if that was even our job. Derek said he mulled over how he could have dealt with Pete better. I shared with the table Guy's suggestion that someone needed to get in his face and flatly say "You're annoying, Pete; you talk too much, you talk about things that have nothing to do with the task I'm giving you, and you don't ever look like you're focused. You gotta get your shit together." Derek said that he himself probably should have been the one to say that, as he's male and Pete might take that better from a guy, "but it's just not my style, y'know?"
"I wish he could've had the chance to work with Guy," I said. "Not only would that have been entertaining, he would have very clearly been on notice."
"Well, he was told in his review that he had problems focusing," said Derek.
"Were those exact words used?" Elliot asked.
"True," I replied. "DA has a habit of being nonconfrontational, and I can only hope that someone actually was that clear with Pete. Otherwise, he's gonna feel all betrayed and sucker-punched."

We surmised that while they may have been more that we--Derek and I--could have done, there's only so much you can do with someone who is missing basic social interation skills into his late 30s/early 40s, and who frankly also exhibits some traits of ADHD. (I ran Pete's behavior by Vinnie, psychologist and part time antique furniture dealer and my friend, and he said Pete's behavior seemed consistent with ADHD and a possible infantile character disorder, and character and personality disorders are hard to treat.) How much could we really have done? If we'd gotten in his grill, he would likely have given blowback on that kind of input, especially when I recall other conversations I've had with him. He tended to be the kind of guy who, when given a suggestion or advice on how to handle a problem, he would do the "yeah, but--" thing, or he'd tell me, "But you don't understand where I just worked/what happeend the last time I did this/what I've done before." After two or three "but you don't understands", I'm not interested in understanding a damn thing. I want him to shut up and go away and grow up.

So, I look at this incident as a learning experience for me, having seen someone wacky enough that I know when to step away but also to know that I have to be very clear with people who are lacking these skills, then follow that up with the person's supervisor to let them know what I've said.

Meanwhile, the office is quiet, and productivity is back up again. Thank God.

1 comment:

Ms. Theologian said...

I'm always surprised when people suggest getting in other people's grills because that has never worked for me. I'm really glad you said something about his behavior and steps were taken too.