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What am I Doing

January 24, 2019

What do you assume about other employees when you don’t know what they are doing?  I was surprised to discover that the answer was: nothing.  When I was a technician, working for a professor, I heard about a meeting of graduate students.  The topic of their meeting was me.  They decided, based on their ignorance of what I was doing there, that I was doing nothing.  They also complained that I should have been helping them with their research, and even that I kept my office door open.

My boss, the professor, had also heard about the meeting.  He knew that I was not doing nothing.  I was only doing nothing that helped them in their research.  What they meant was that I was doing nothing from their point of view.  I was working on something completely different; I was conducting research in a different area.

My boss told me that I was not expected to help them because I was not hired to do that.  That statement seemed quite reasonable to me.  Nobody could explain what harm I did by keeping my office door open.  To me, it only meant that I’d welcome the opportunity to talk to anybody who came by.


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