Monday, January 28, 2008

A True Story From One Of My Jobs

Hey, Kids! It's time for a True Story From One Of My Jobs!

We'll be going back a few years for this one, to a job I used to have but don't anymore. I worked in a small department that provided technical support to the rest of the operation. We got a call from a middle manager who had been asked by The Boss to provide some numbers. No problem. An important part of this middle manager's job was recording and analysing statistics for their department and providing all sorts of reports upon request from up the chain.

So, they did what they almost always did in these situations: called the support crew to come give them the numbers they needed. One of my colleagues - we'll call him Alex - agreed to go up and help them, mainly because he's much nicer and more patient than I am.

They needed to give The Boss the number of e-mails that come into a particular mailbox each month on average. Here's what took place:

Middle Manager: "The problem is, we don't have numbers broken down per month. We only have the annual total for each year."

(I'll give you all a minute to digest that.)

(There. Done?)

Alex, demonstrating remarkable restraint: "Well, just divide that by twelve, and you'll have the monthly average."

The grateful manager hauled out a pencil and paper and began dividing the year's total by 12, long-division style. Alex interceded and suggested that a calculator might be easier (and, although he's too tactful to say so, infinitely more likely to arrive at the correct answer). Then -

Middle Manager: "OK, that's the average for last year. Now how would we do that for the year before last?"

Alex, being kinder than me, didn't ask whether that year had more or fewer months to divide by.

We also realized, after he returned and told me this story, that he never explained why the annual totals had to be divided by twelve. I feel a sinking certainty that since that day, any time this manager has needed to calculate any average, they've divided whatever number they have to work with by twelve......

Enough rambling. Here's a picture of my son's feet after a day of playing outside.

1 comment:

ShoelessWonder said...

Them 'r dirty feet, o son of Zirbirt. Nice dirty feet.