Friday, December 31, 1999

ugh... it never ends

[Originally posted on February 13, 2023, at 3:25 a.m.]

I want to be left alone during my weekends, and even though I'm on good terms with my immediate boss, I don't want to receive work-related calls even from him (France made such outside-of-work-hours calls illegal). So of course, I got a call from the boss Saturday evening at almost exactly 8 p.m. An emergency had arisen (again, of course—this is Korea, where everything happens without warning, then suddenly everything needs to be done yesterday): the CEO was going to do a seminar, and he needed my latest PPT (PowerPoint doc). I told the boss that the most updated version of the PPT was stored on my computer at the office, which meant I had to go physically to the office to send it. The boss said not to do that, but to send instead the copy of the PPT that I had emailed to him for an initial review. I shrugged, unthinkingly said okay, then sent a copy to the CEO and my boss before realizing that, if the boss remembered he already had a copy of my PPT, then he could simply forward my email from his own archives to the CEO without involving me at all.* Anyway, it was 8:07 p.m. when I sent the PPT to my boss and the CEO; I told the boss that the copies had been sent; the boss said "OK," and that was that.

Then I started brooding about the situation, and I haven't stopped. This incident ruined the tranquility of my weekend.

As I thought more and more about what had happened, I became increasingly pissed off. It all came down to the CEO. Had he told us in advance that he needed this particular PPT on Saturday, I would have gladly emailed it to him, along with the completed seminar notes, on either Thursday (when everything was finished) or Friday. The CEO would have had plenty of time to prepare for his lecture. But since we've already established that the man is a disorganized mess with no clear vision of his company's future, then I guess it's no surprise when bullshit like this happens, so I shouldn't be surprised at all. 

The chronology is this:

Last Monday: I get news that the CEO has another article he wants to use for a lesson.

Last Tuesday: my boss finishes converting the article into a lesson-friendly format that includes highlighted vocab, highlighted idiomatic phrases, some discussion questions, etc.

Also last Tuesday: I start working on the vocab PPT. This means choosing five or six of the vocab words highlighted by the boss (the boss usually highlights around twenty, plus five or so idiomatic expressions), then creating a PPT. I start working on the PPT. Partway through the day, with the PPT mostly complete but with several revisions and corrections necessary, the boss asks me to email him what I have. I do so. By the end of the day, I've started to make some extra touches that turn the new version into something distinctly different from what my boss looked at. This includes changing the number of vocab words from five to six—an important content change.

Last Wednesday: I finish the PPT and start on the seminar notes that go along with it. The boss gives me other work to do as well. No sweat. Nothing more is said about the PPT. The boss never asks for the final version, and the CEO doesn't call to say when he needs his material. The boss shows no interest in my seminar notes.

Last Thursday: I finish the seminar notes, and I'm thoroughly buried in new work. Nothing is said about the PPT or the seminar notes.

Last Friday: still working on other stuff. I've totally moved on.

Saturday: the sudden call in the evening.

So the CEO got an inferior version of my product—and no seminar notes—because he couldn't be fucking bothered to tell us when he needed his material. I'm cynical enough to think of myself as remaining at the company mainly for the money—it's certainly not about creative fulfillment or moral satisfaction—but I still retain enough pride in my work that I'd rather give my superiors, however goofy they might be, my best possible work. But through one man's blundering stupidity, I ended up emailing what was essentially an incomplete document that the guy then went on to use for his lecture. I'd like to think that the document he got was still good enough for him to get through his lecture with at least 90% success, but that might be a vain hope. And the fact that he had to present the PPT without his usual seminar notes (which he shamelessly told us were there to "make [him] look smart") probably meant that he had to rush through the PPT without taking too many questions.

I cannot overstress how disorganized and scatterbrained this man is. He also actively avoids things like precision, specificity, clarity, and detail, almost as if he's constitutionally averse to these things, as if he hates being pinned down or forced to say anything definite.** Is he trying to project some sort of sage-like inscrutability? Because if he is, I'm not impressed. All I see is a ditz—a guy who is very badly managing his business. He tried once to open a company branch in Vietnam, and that effort failed around the middle of last year. I think it's because he (or whoever) didn't thoroughly research the region to see what would work. There was no attempt to understand Vietnamese psychology. He has also been unsuccessful in expanding the company southward into the rest of the peninsula, so even here in Korea, our company is not a known quantity the way certain huge language institutes are. Consequently, we have no major branches in Daegu or Busan... and the guy is trying to negotiate a deal in Vietnam again, this time at a different location. I think he ought to focus his efforts more locally, expand the company southward to Busan, and stop thinking about international offshoots. While I don't agree that insanity is trying to do the same thing over and over while expecting different results, I can see that as a form of stupidity.

Upshot: a company tendril reached out and tugged at me gently, ruining my weekend and leaving me increasingly pissed (I'm only getting angrier as I write this). There's a chance my boss may have dropped the ball. If he knew a day or two beforehand about the urgency of getting my material to the CEO, and he forgot to tell me that the CEO needed my material for a Saturday-evening seminar, then the problem isn't just the CEO. I do know this: the boss thought he'd already sent my material to the CEO, and it wasn't until the CEO called at 8 p.m. on Saturday that he found out otherwise. I assume the CEO called that late in the game because he'd trusted my boss's word that the files had been sent, and he didn't bother opening his mailbox until right before he was about to present. Rookie mistake, that (always check early!), but when you're as dotty as Joe Biden, all you get is rookie-level blunders.

Jesus Christ.

I'll have a lot to talk about with my boss Monday afternoon. Another week of madness awaits.


*All I can say in my defense is that I was down for the count for most of Saturday, and the boss's call had woken me up from my evening slumber.

**These are, by the way, the qualities of a pathological liar. Liars prefer to live in a fog of vagueness because that's far more manageable for them than trying to remember every lie they tell. Less mental candlepower is needed that way. Just ask my father.


  1. I could tell you were angry when wrote this. When you re-read it, you will see why.

    Back in my working for the Army life, I'd get late-night calls occasionally, but they were usually for some justifiable reason.

    Now that I'm retired and living in the Philippines, I don't have work issues to deal with, but I do often have to invoke the mantra my first Pinay girlfriend taught me: Take a deep breath. Relax. Accept the Filipino way. You might need to come up with something similar when dealing with your CEO.

  2. With your walking, you might want to let your boss know you will be unavailable by phone each weekend as you enjoy the peace of nature, especially as spring is in the air.

  3. Nope, three sounds about write. It happens to me all the time with everything I right. I was just surprised because you rarely make errors like that, so I figured they were anger induced.

    (some of the errors in the above were intentional--just me trying to be funny again.)

  4. John from Daejeon,

    I haven't been walking since last November, but I'd use that strategy if I were walking now.

  5. It gets worse when you don't technically have "work hours." Basic courtesy generally prevails, but it is not uncommon to get a kakao message late at night in one of the many groups that I am unfortunately a part of. I ignore anything that comes via kakao unless it is directed straight at me or requires a response specifically from me, but it's still annoying.

    I'm also pretty sure that a good number of my colleagues don't understand why I don't want to spend time with them outside of our normal working environment. I get along with them fine, I just don't feel like spending my personal time with them. I would much rather, for example, go on a trip to Gangneung with my wife than with my colleagues--especially when they end up drinking for the entire time anyway.

    (Yes, I did just get back from such a trip yesterday. I will never do that again if I can help it.)

  6. You may not be walking now, but he doesn't have to know that.

    Lucky for me, my employers knew my weekends where for biking, fishing, and nature as all it took was one invite for one boss to join me on a 40 mile biking and fishing trip to see just how committed I was to enjoying "my" time unless we previously worked something out way, way ahead of time.



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