While we were in Seattle this past weekend, I did pretty well. I let Garbanzo drive twice. Normally, I drive. Not only do I feel I am the better driver, I would rather be the one getting into the possible accident because, of course, I’ll be able to avoid it. And, if we are looking for some place, I know the way I want to go. If we get lost or don’t know where to go, I am convinced if I were driving, I could figure it out.
It really isn’t an ego thing – it’s a control thing.
I’ve mentioned before that I am a horrible hijacker of meetings at work. I don’t hijack them because I want my agenda tackled instead. No, I hijack them because I believe if I control the meeting it will get done faster, be more effective, and be more efficient. If I know I can’t hijack the meeting, I have to do something else as the meeting is going. It keeps me in check. I should mention that most of the time I am right.
I am also a hijacker of projects. Now this one is tricky. While it is a control thing, I cannot be a major player on a poorly run project. I don’t like projects that drag out. I don’t like projects that miss objectives. I hate it when things are unclear to the team. So, I tend to subtly hijack the project from the PM. Sometimes, I actually take over the damn project and let the named PM be the figure head. Other times, I prop up the PM by feeding them what they should be doing. And, if the PM is totally incompetent, I will actively work to get them removed.
Again, I don’t want the glory. I don’t need the extra work. I just know if it were under my control, it would get done faster. And if I know it will land in my lap when the project completes, I would rather have full control over what is dropped in my lap to support. Much better than the alternative.
I will let Garbanzo refute this next statement if he wants. But, I am also a control freak at home. Some of it is done in the name of organization, but in the end, I know my way is better. I have tried to be better about relinquishing control. I don’t always succeed, but I try. And, if I know it is a battle I should not have, I will literally walk away. Doing this is not a statement against Garbanzo, I do it to put myself in a “time out” before I start a battle I didn’t intend to start.
If you are a believer in astrology, you would say this is typical Taurus behavior. If you believe in Chinese astrology, you would say it was because I was born in the year of the bull. If you believe both, you’ll realize how screwed I am – doubly stubborn, if you will.
Besides the predictable ways this can create issues, I have found that I have responses to situations that has its roots in the fact I cannot control the situation. For example, I revealed in my 100 Things about Me earlier in the year that I haven’t been on an airplane since 2001 (Sept 9th, to be exact). Given the date, you could speculate it has to do with September 11th. But your speculation would only be partially right. It was the last in a series of events.
In the month leading up to that date, I had been on twelve plane flights. I loved to fly. Put me in the air with music and a good book or three, and I was fine. Throw a Diet Coke and pretzels into the mix, and it was a nice trip. But then, I flew to Norway for work. All was good. Until I got on the flight from Norway to Amsterdam. I suspected something was happening when they rushed us to our seats and started taxiing to the runway. Looking out the windows, I noticed a line for take off. I started wondering if this was just Norwegian efficiency or something else. It was something else. They wanted to get all of the planes in the air before the largest storm Norway had seen in 50 years hit. We were one of the last planes to take off into it.
It was a scary ass flight. Not everyone was calm about it, and one of the worst happened to be my cohort who was flying with me. He was freaking out. About 45 minutes into the flight, everything was calm again. Having this experience made me realize for their first time there was actually risk to flying. The people I trusted to keep me safe didn’t do it. They threw me into the middle of a fucking storm.
The Norway guy we were traveling with didn’t think anything of it. He had flown in worse when in the Norwegian Army in northern Norway. He found the flight to be quite calm in comparison to some of the other flights he had been on. Talking with my cohort who was the Norwegian Manager at that branch of the company, he told me how bad the storm was. And, at that point, I realized there was no way in hell they would have let us leave the ground if we were in the US. (I know – I got caught in something similar in Minneapolis, and they made us sit on the plane for 4 hours until is passed.)
After returning home via the longest flights possible, I was sent to San Diego to close the office down there. While I had some nerves on the flight down, I made it down there without incident or issue. In fact, I was reassured that Norway was a fluke. My goal was to get there, get my work done, and get my ass home. That summer, Garbanzo had been gone a month for a school thing. He had been back long enough for me to hand him DJ and leave on the Norway trip. I had returned from trip, long enough to kiss my family, then leave again. Getting my job done early and getting home was extremely important to me. I missed my family.
When my cohort and I went to bed the evening of the 10th, we knew we were going home the next day. We had gotten the work done that day, so our plan was to get up early, call our travel person at work, and get on the earliest flight we could. He was excited to get back to his partner sooner. I was happy to get to see Garbanzo for the first time in a month, and have family time with he and DJ. Then we woke up to Sept 11th. My cohort Nelson and I literally greeted each other the next morning with “what the fuck is going on?!” Upon realizing that we were stuck in San Diego, we made it our mission to get the hell home. Thankfully, we had a rental car. We drove the 18 hours back to Portland thanks to lots of coffee and no sleep. We wanted to get home – and we knew this was the way we could control the voyage.
I will be honest. During the whole trip, we listened to nothing. No radio. No newspapers. Nothing. We talked the whole time. We knew that the news would be so bad that listening to it for 18 hours would not be helpful. Upon returning home, we learned all of the details of what happened. I had flown thru Dulles the week before, so hearing a direct flight from there to the west coast was also involved was not reassuring. The security I left in someone else’s hands was clearly flawed.
A couple weeks later, I was supposed to go to San Diego again to get the office moved. I couldn’t do it. I didn’t care what the precautions were, I could not get on that plane. My cohort did it for me in the end.
What I have realized recently is that I need to get on an airplane again. I have to do it. I have taken half steps towards this goal a few times, but I have never really committed myself to accomplishing it. I realized I cannot see my friends if I don’t get on a plane. I can’t see family unless I get on a plane. While I like driving, it is no longer feasible. So, I must deal with it.
I must let go of some control.