White Privilege. It’s one of those phrases everybody is supposed to understand. It explains a lot to those that believe in it. I’m not saying there isn’t a Jacobs ladder or that some are less equal than others. Just . . . don’t let that be the reason you keep paying a therapist to work on your resentment of someone who was fortunate.
The post that was here in a previous edit blathered on about stuff familiar to those who follow this blog. I’m over it. We all face adversity and have to figure out what to do about it. The truth of our world is that things are not fair, there is disparity and for all the propaganda from the socialists & communists about how centralized, community control can fix it, there is one intractable problem–us.
This site is home to the odd end of the Bell curve–the addicts, criminals, crazies and malcontents. We are the annoying ones who don’t comply, who transgress and generate a need to forgive. We know we are sinners and start there. This will be familiar to some, “Realize I’m not God; I admit that I am powerless to control my tendency to do the wrong thing and my life is unmanageable.” Any proposed political system that claims it can create a more perfect world without acknowledging the ways in which people are a mess is one that makes me suspicious.
So, introduction over. What I wanted to post instead of more talking points about White Privilege is some confessing. When called on the carpet for something I’m not used to being right. My first reflex is to apologize and obsess on what I did to fuck up. Then to ruminate on what I can do to change myself so I can be better. Being right, winning, isn’t my go-to move. Nor is fighting back. So, at work, when asked to do something, I assume that I should just do it, damned the consequences. Because it has to be that the one requesting is right, not me. They are the winner, not me.
I know. The WASP, the privileged, the one who is supposed to win, doesn’t self-identify as a winner. WTF? Right? You could maybe understand if I’d come from Compton, was brown-skinned, raised by my po’ Grandma because my baby-mamma and baby-daddy were either dead, in prison, too crazy or too addicted to be useful. Then maybe I’d have a reason. But . . . my Dad came from a broken home and rose above his circumstances to succeed and bless me with the privilege I enjoyed growing up. Did I continue the success? Kind of. Not like someone from Compton might imagine.
You maybe have heard friends say this, “If I won the lottery I’d . . .” with me it’s cars & land, debt free, making sure my son is taken care of, maybe a trust fund to ensure that my ex-wife has a safety-net, that sort of thing. There are kids in Compton right now who, on hearing my Dad’s story and mine, would find me confusing. Homeless? Convicted criminal? Can’t keep a job? How does that happen?
I don’t know. Well, I do, sort of. I had the position to be able to flip off my Dad and declare that I didn’t want to punch my e-ticket ride to a quiet suburban life. I wanted to be something significant. I wanted fame. Then I’d fix the world’s ills and there would be world peas and that doe-eyed kid on TV could stop begging for money. That went well.
So, this happened at work: I was asked to issue a tablet. I did. Now, for security reasons all devices that are returned to us are wiped and where possible, reset to the factory settings. In the retail world this is expected. We get the unboxing porn moment of opening the box and setting the device up for ourselves. Enterprise computing is different. There are no new devices in Enterprise computing. Every device given to a user has been unboxed and work put into it by a technician to prepare it for the organization where it will be used. Most of them are recycled for the duration of their 3 year warranty.
So, with the tablet the question is how much work is expected of a technician before it reaches an end user? This is where I am not used to being right. At my particular company the answer is, little to none. Instructions are provided to the end user for them to set it up. Us, the maroon polo shirted psuedo-Geek Squad guys, are not tasked with much more than delivering the device. At least, that’s the published policy. The understanding that was understood under a previous vendor is, shocker, a bit different.
One technician from the previous vendor was breaking security policy and getting the account names and passwords of end users receiving a mobile device so that he could set it up for them. He was delivering them with the user’s software and data installed. Convenient for the end user and incredibly bad for security. We are the new vendor supplying the same technology support as the old vendor. But, the specific knowledge of what to install, what settings to perform, and the passwords and account names of supported end users, that knowledge left with the vendor and the technician. Which, actually, fixes a security issue.
But, that technician left a behavioral fart stinking up the chair where he used to sit. There is an expectation that a request for a mobile device will prompt a surrender of login-information in exchange for work to set up a device. I delivered a tablet and didn’t do two things. I didn’t ask for login-information and I didn’t set up the device. Now, I’m not used to being right. So, when the e-mail thread started inquiring why I hadn’t done this I fell on my sword. I apologized, groveled and went home once again afraid I’d fucked off a job.
This morning I returned to pouring through the published documentation to see if I had indeed fucked up. I’m still getting used to this. 1100 words in it still doesn’t feel right that I could be correct in forgetting to set up a tablet for a user. But my failure isn’t wrong. Doing the work requires that I violate security policy and compromise the safety of the data owned by the recipient of the device. Plus, there is nothing published that says I am to violate policy and do what my predecessor did. Of what is published it implies that this is something that the user does for themselves.
There is more to this that I won’t publish. The confession, some 800 words later, is that I’m still getting used to being right. Cornered, I still forget, cower and grovel, waiting for the beating to be over. I didn’t come from a positive place, do my homework and deliver a device and the news that the user needed to set it up. No, I let my boss chew me out when in fact, though done in a passive-aggressive way, I had done the right thing.
I realized I had a shot at some success three months ago when I got this job. That’s good news and troublesome at the same time. I know how to fail. I understand the world of this blog, populated by the annoying end of the Bell curve, ruled by Satan who treats it as a playground and us as his food. The world of winners, in the fat part of the curve, where things go my way, where the struggles change and I can enjoy a degree of comfort, that world is odd to me. I’ve done the bottom. I know it well. Let’s see what life is like on top of the ridge.