Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Aristocracy Of Incompetence

From The Adventures of Roberta X:

"This is a work in progress; I don't know if I'll even make much sense in this go.

I do tech-y work. I'm good with my hands -- a bump of mechanical aptitude, a dollop of artsy-craftsiness, and the sheer good fortune to grow up with parents who figured anything one applied oneself to, one could do; which they both demonstrated on a regular basis and passed on to their offspring like a fish passes on swimming skills: I never realized there was any other approach.

But there most certainly is and it's nothing nice. In my working career, in my adult life, I keep encountering over and over again* the hard truth that those who can end up doing for those who can't, over and over. Can't drive a truck? Roberta can. Can't do trim carpentry or finish wood? Roberta can. Need a bespoke microcontroller designed, built, programmed and installed? Can't work out and retrofit a technical ground system? Can't sew, can't cook, can't plan a week's menu? Hey, I know just the gal! Meanwhile, we'll go have coffee and think Higher Thoughts....

And that's fine; I like being able to do things and I take a certain pleasure at my job in being able to do just about anything -- some things better than others, but "no, I can't," is rarely in my vocabulary, unlike a few of my nominal peers.

Nevertheless, it's irksome at times to do all the work for half the credit, to be paid the same as the bum who walks away from sloppy, incomplete work; to always be the thrifty ant, never the heedless grasshopper. And I wonder, is it that way for others, too?"

I think the answer is YES.

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