Project idiots…

So, by now, the whole of Vox is aware that my degree is wrapping up, and that it depends on a team collaboration in which we build a piece of software for a client.

Well.  Throughout the whole thing, we've had a team member who just hasn't pulled his weight. (If you're reading this, you either know who you are, or you're going to get told by 3pm today in front of the Lecturer-In-Charge, with whom I've had a number of conversations about you.) His name is Ben.  I know a few Bens, so no, this isn't the one who forgot me recently, this is another one.  He has had 0 assignments left for his semester for the last week.  Every other team member has at least 1 and probably 2 due this week.  It's a part of why I haven't been blogging recently (expect that to change after Friday, when boredom will set in really quickly.)  now, recently, we figured out this guy was useless. I actually can't remember if I've blogged about him or not yet.  I've emailed the lecturer a couple of times asking for some advice. 
Well.  We (foolishly) said (nicer, but it's basically what we said) "well, you've done -no- implementation, here's a chance to do some documentation and regain some marks.  Would you be happy to do the general user manual?" 
"Sure, no worries" says Ben the Terminally Lazy.
"Cool, you need to do this this and this"
"No dramas"
and we were set. the rest of us actually had some time to work on our assignments since Ben was doing things.  Thursday rolled around.  "So, what have you done?"
"this this and this" says Ben.
"Cool, can we see it?" queries my lovely self in the sweetest, most non-threatening voice I can muster
"I'd have to go home to get it" responds Ben.  My urge to kill rose.
"Ok, well can you email it out when you get home?"
"oh, I don't know that it's ready tonight to send out" urge to kill: rising, subtext: I've done nothing.
"All I want is something so that I know what sort of material we're supposed to produce"
"Yeah, no worries"
"so can you send it out tomorrow?" Says I.
"I reckon"
and the conversation ended there.

Friday rolls around: nothing.

Saturday: nothing from ben, but Darren has produced templates because he was so sick of waiting, and a response from Ben saying "we don't need to use templates beacuse tehre will still be formatting differences and we'd need to reformat them anyway." at 12:30AM on Sunday I send an email asking for something so that I can take a look at to see what Ben wants us to write since he's collating the General User Manual.

An email came through to me (and me alone) at 11:08 AM Sunday morning with just over a page of text, a significant proportion of it bullet points. none of which I would deem sufficient for submission.
I forwarded this on to everyone since I worked out that I actually had nothing that I needed to contribute to that manual myself. then at 11:57AM, he sends out another one with a couple more paragraphs.  It was obvious that he'd been writing it that morning so he'd have something to send.

and eventually, I got the Times that Ben wanted me to use to update the project schedule.  He'd broken it up into sections. and his highest time was for presentation!  (I think I may have ranted about ben not wanting to come to an important meeting before)  He almost didn't come to the really important meetings about the presentation where we produce the thing, and it's only because I was nasty and said that it was disloyal, disrespectful and hurtful of him to decide not to come to what was arguably one of the most important meetings of the semester that he came!  His highest time! 2nd highest? meetings. yep, you heard me, meetings. I was appalled. I was disgusted. I was horrified.  and then I read the time he put down for the first instance of "user docs/manuals" 75 minutes.  my voice went black, and I did Death's voice. you know the one. THE ONE WHERE HE TALKS LIKE THIS.  I said something along the lines of "I'M GOING TO KILL HIM!"  and I continued reading.  I found User Manuals: 475 minutes.  Better. It would of course have been lovely if we had seen anything at all that suggested that he'd done anything like that much work.  On seeing those times, I started printing things.

  • The "manual" he sent to me
  • The "manual" he sent to everyone else
  • The email Darren said that he was sick of waiting. (Darren's single section was longer than Ben's "manual" by the way)
  • The Times that Ben sent me
  • The email where Darren tells me that he doesn't believe there's a template.
  • The email where Ben says that there's no point to a template.

I figure that will give me plenty to talk about in our management meeting at 2.40pm Monday 15 Oct.

and right now, I have something to say to Ben:
"Dear Ben,

This is going to shock you.  You're used to me being a nice person who is easy to get along with.  And, by and large, I think (I definitely hope) that you're right.  I mean, I'm a bitch, for sure, but who isn't?  This letter, however… This letter is a result of me being so nice and easy to get along with.  I didn't rant at you for not doing your work when I probably should have.  You've seen that I can play dirty, tweaking emotions when I need to.  Right now, I need to rant, I need to play dirty.  I need to write something so that if you ever do read it, you'll understand how I feel. I need to at least write about how I feel about you before I see you tomorrow.  So that when I see you in that management meeting, I don't absolutely blow my stack and lose all my professionalism marks.  With that said, here is what I have to say.  I know it's not pretty, but it's the truth.

I don't know what you thought project was going to be like.  I knew it was going to be hard work, and chew up a lot of my time.  That's why I didn't take an extra (overtime), completely optional unit in second semester even though I wasn't already failing units multiple times over. I would never attempt to do that uni load and work 2 jobs.  I actually quite liked you at the start of the year.  I figured you were a good student and a decent guy.  I don't understand how you can spend so much on uni tuition and not put in the effort.  I don't understand how you can be happy just failing. 

What I do understand? I understand that helping you pass cheapens the degree I'm working fucking hard to get.  I've already had one person pass for a qualification based almost entirely on my work.  I am not doing that again.  I understand that you need to get 45% of your internal mark to pass this unit, which is a core unit to obtain a computing degree.  I understand that you have done almost no work this semester, and there is virtually no tangible evidence that you have done anything.  I understand that your Work Product Pay Packet will be as close to Zero as I can make it and still have a clear conscience.  I understand that I am not going to sit idly by while you cheapen my profession.

What you need to understand?  You need to understand that in my eyes you have failed. You didn't pull your weight, wouldn't tell us you weren't doing things, and every time we bailed you out because it's better the devil you know, and we were understanding of workloads and stuff.  Well, no more.  As far as I'm concerned, your individual marks will be nil, nix, nada, zilch.  I don't know that I'll ever be gutsy enough to say this to your face,  but in the year I've known you, you have become contemptible to me. 

I'm sure you'll enjoy repeating project and making some other team miserable.  Thinking about that almost makes me want to let you pass.  It's not an experience I would wish on anyone.  But then, I wouldn't wish you on an employer either.

I'll see you around, I'm sure, because I start Honours next year, and you're still going to be around."

I'm sorry, everyone.  That venomous type/rant/vent/cry has saved me from actually going psycho on his arse, I think.  (I'm still not going to risk it, I'll leave the sharp objects in my locker before the meeting)  I hate feeling like that.  I hate feeling like I'm dishing out what people deserve. This post may not be pretty… but it's true for me.

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Yesterday, the day that nobody remembered…

… me.

that's not quite true.  The Divine Miss C remembered. but it feels like she was the only one.  I asked B on Monday if I could stay at his place last night so I could go to a group for gay Christians.  I also suggested a Wine Time afterwards.  Yesterday while I was killing time between the end of uni and the group, Ben came home, and when I asked about the Wine Time, he said he "forgot" and was going to stay at his bf's place.  How hard is it to remember for one frigging day?!?!  I mean seriously.  And it's not like the bf isn't invited to wine times.  So that was bugging me.

Then I went to my gay Christians group.  This is usually a really recharging experience, and I rarely go away feeling worse than when I arrive.  But last night was one of those nights.  Right on the heels of being forgotten by B, I got basically ignored by the group.  Now, I'm sure that it wasn't intentional, but it hurts nonetheless.  To explain:  The group I go to is basically a support group for GLBTI people and their friends/family/supporters with a bit of a Christian focus.  Each meeting we have a little bit of a devotional thingy and an opening prayer, and then we go around the group talking about how our month was.  Mine has been a bit crappy, a bit hectic, a bit up and down, and just generally exhausting.  We had a quasi-new member this week, (a number of the group had met him before and knew him for his efforts in GLBTI reconciliation in his local area)  and we got him to talk to us about his life and his locale.  then we went around the table.  I was sitting next to the newbie, and the guy on the other side of me started talking about his month.  They got right around the table to the girl sitting next to Newbie, and then just broke off and started talking amongst themselves.  I said in a clear, loud voice, to no-one and everyone in particular "My month has been exhausting!" and one person said, the third time I said it, "I don't think they've noticed, so just tell me"  This was quite sweet, and I must send an email to the guy thanking him, but it highlighted that no-one else had noticed at all.  I live the furthest away out of the whole (regular) group (the newbie was from further away) and going to the group impacts 2 days out of my week. (I stay in town, which involves all the inconveniences that staying somewhere not-your-home entail) Not to mention the fact taht I worked extra-hard so I'd have time to go to it. I'm left wondering if I should send an email to those present.  On any other day, or for any other month, I'd probably be fine.  but that day, the month just gone, I needed to have my spill, and it hurt that they didn't even notice that I didn't get a chance.

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People and relationships

I was at a group the other day, and one member talked about an issue she was having with her mother and brother.
this girl is gay, her brother is gay, and her mother is having difficulty accepting it.  That seems fine. The issue she was in fact talking about was between brother and mother, and the fact that the mother was having trouble accepting the brother as gay.

"Is that your issue?  Does it need to be your issue?"
"How is it your issue?"
"If she can't accept my brother, how can she accept me?"

This girl is the one who came out first. 
So my response was "If she doesn't accept you, how can she accept your brother?"

I don't think she got it. I was left with a blank look. I explained:
"Your mother has had a year or more to get used to the idea that you're gay, she's had a month to deal with the fact that your brother is.  Why should she find it easier to accept that her son is gay than that her daughter is gay?  Surely she would come to accept you first, and then your brother." (In reality, I know that once the penny drops for one person, it's usually for all of them at the same time)

My point through all of this, which has been a point that I've made to her many times over, is that she would probably do better to be taking care of her own relationships with her mother and brother, and let them worry about theirs themselves.  Why am I involved? She keeps asking for advice.

In another conversation "My mum wants me to reconcile with my sister, but if my sister wants reconciliation, she can come reconcile with me"

I was flabbergasted.  Then my brain kicked into action:

"Reconciliation is a two-party process, and it only works when both parties are willing"
"I'm willing, but she has to make the first move"
"Both parties need to be equally willing, or it will fail."
"I'm willing to make it work, but she has to come to me and accept some blame"
"If you're asking her to extend further than you're willing to extend yourself, then are you really equally willing?"
"I think so?"
"You're asking her to take a risk you're unwilling to take. You need her to be more willing than you are to start the reconciliation process.  For reconciliation to work, you need to make a step. If you want it, if you think it needs to happen, then make a step."
"But she won't accept responsibility for what she did, I mean, I know I'm partly responsible too, but she won't accept any responsibility, even though she's the one that pushed me to say stuff and do stuff"

I gave up on the direct approach, and later in the evening, the group was talking about emotional healing.

I said:
"To be free, to be unhindered, we need to be able to let go of not only the good things, which are sometimes easy, sometimes hard, but also the bad things, the painful things, because it's only when we hold onto them, and let them colour the way we see the world, that they've really hurt us in a meaningful way."
Some discussion ensued
"And beyond that, we need to be able to let go of these things without needing someone to take responsibility for the hurt, pain, sorrow, suffering, anger, or negativity that they have caused us, because sometimes, you'll never ever get them to say it."
"Yeah, Some people just won't accept any part of a wrongdoing" (this wasn't the girl in the first section here)
"But beyond that, some people will never have the opportunity to take responsibility, or shoulder blame. There are people you'll never see again, I'm sure, who have hurt you in some way or another, and they may not even know they've hurt you, they might not care, or they might have no way to find you to tell you that they acknowledge and apologise for the pain they've caused, so you need to be able to let go, without needing them to say 'sorry'"

I know. This stuff is incredibly hard to put into practice, but if you can do it, even giving it a shot, tends to improve your day-to-day emotional attitude.

Those are small snippets of bigger conversations, but I think they help get across my take on some relationship stuff.

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