12/13/10

RVOD146 Basic Job Skills: Handling Daily Problems

(1970s, Educational/Short, color)

Riffers:

Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy

Here are the documents instructing you to f--- off.

Rating: ***

In a Nutshell:


People with problems at work should just solve them already.

Summary:

My workplace needs more explosive switchboxes.The main narrator—the overnarrator, if you will—introduces us to three sub-narrators, including the X-Ray technician, the restaurant manager and the construction foreman. These three Zen masters of the workplace go about their daily jobs shaking their heads at their hapless coworkers, who just can’t handle the pressure.

The groovy mediators of conflict take their various charges aside and dispense subtle advice. Previously fractured relationships are mended over cafeteria food, bowling and large shapeless piles of wood. Instead of flipping out, disgruntled employees talk to their managers and coworkers, who make everything better. Suddenly, the nurse can get her medicine cabinet filled on time, the junior cook actually gets to cook, and the angry supervisor stops being so angry. Oh, and the bookkeeper who’s so mad about being made a cashier learns to swallow her pride and do it anyway.

Thoughts:

To my mind, the angry supervisor bit best represents the short as a whole. To wit, “If your supervisor is being mean to you, he should probably be nicer.” Like the rest of the advice dispensed, it’s both basically true and entirely unhelpful. The problem lies in the way it tends to see workplaces as kindergartens, i.e. most problems can be solved with a hug and an apology, while the stickier issues can easily be taken to the nearest adult, er, supervisor for correction.

In a real world workplace, everyone’s an adult. This includes supervisors, who are just other adults, possessing the same basic attributes as their subordinates. Far from being easygoing and malleable like children, it turns out adults are prickly, stubborn creatures who know that you don’t know more than they do. Working with them is easiest when you find out where the prickles are and learn to work around them.

A few favorite comments: While motionless people are wheeled through the hospital, Bill identifies one as “another corpse for the grinder.” After describing a lengthy conflict resolution process Kevin, adds, “Then you fight with quarterstaffs.” When we meet the heavily mustached lead chef, Mike asks, “Shouldn’t he be dodging barrels thrown by a monkey?” It’s a heavily idealized short and a decent commentary, worth a look.