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27 April 2002

One joke in the family concerns a time when the kids were little. When you have seven people in a family, it's difficult to make sure that everybody gets all the pertinent information. If you're all going somewhere it's inevitable that someone will wail "but you never TOLD me!" It got so bad at a point that I started making a conscientious effort to be sure that everyone knew what was going to happen and when.

The problem with this is that instead of telling five people, one at a time, the relevant information, I would invariably tell three people once and one person twice, forgetting the fifth person entirely, knowing that I had given the information five times, which should have been sufficient.

The only one this bothered was Paul who would get livid if I was telling him the same thing for the second or third time. It got so bad at one point that we actually made a sign that said "Don't tell Paul Sykes things he already knows."

Years later, he came in to play for me a song the band had just recorded. He'd been struggling with the words to this song and had this smug look on his face as I listened to it. I just about fell out of my chair laughing when I heard the lyrics that went:

tell me the future tell me where I will go
tell me the truth
but don't tell me anything I already know...

I'm feeling a bit more kindly these days about Paul's frustration at being told unnecessary things.

Contrary to popular belief, I am not an idiot. But I guess this may not be apparent to everyone. I was typing a report for the psychiatrist tonight and he was dictating to whom copies of the report should be sent and he made certain to spell the name of one doctor whose name is rather "different."

Now ordinarily I'd say this was a very thoughtful thing for him to do, but keep in mind that I have been transcribing for him for twenty five years and have sent countless copies of countless reports to this doctor, whose name he spelled for me.

Likewise he spells the name of people I used to work for, people whose spellings I originally gave him when he got them wrong the first time.

I'd chalk it up to the fact that the guy is pushing 70 and has always been the epitome of an absent minded professor, but then there's the psychologist.

I've worked for the psychologist for five years now. He does psychological testing--all those personality, intelligence and coordination tests. Every single report includes a table which is identical (except for the scores) to every other table. Every single time he comes to the table he says "these figures should be in a column." Yes. I know that!! Just like the previous 200 times I've typed a report like this!

And then there is Dr. G. Dr. G is a very nice person to work for, but he's also an irritating control freak. He is forever telling me what I need to say, how I need to do things, etc., etc. Once he starts his explanation, there is no stopping him until he's finished.

Yesterday, for example, a patient was late. The day before another patient was a no show. Dr. G got it into his head that they weren't able to find the office and said he and I would sit down and write a script for how I was supposed to give directions.

Now--I've lived in this town for nearly 30 years and I've been giving directions for that long and people usually tell me that my directions are very clear (it's not that difficult to get around here!), but he felt I needed to follow a written script for giving directions because two patients didn't show up, which obviously was a result of my poor direction-giving.

Then the arm fell off of my desk chair this week and I discovered that the large screw which holds it in place was missing. Dr. G actually sat in my chair and pointed out to me all the places where I should go looking for the screw, and how to go about looking, telling me I should get on my hands and knees and look under everything (well... duhhh... thanks. That never would have occurred to me!)

I'm thinking of having a big sign made to hang over my desk:

Don't tell Bev Sykes things she already knows! (or has enough intelligence to figure out for herself)

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Communication doesn't start with talking, it starts with listening.

--Steve Schalchlin

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