For some reason, I spent the entire bulk of today fending off the phenomenon I refer to as “mi loca, tu loca”. Which translates roughly to “my crazy, your crazy (and that plus asking for the check at dinner is just about the extent of my Spanish.)
The MLTL experience is one of the things in life that truly, deeply gets under my skin. We all have experienced this at least once. If you haven’t, you either live under a rock or have a life that is so pleasant that June Cleaver would shank you out of pure jealousy. MLTL happens when someone else tries to make their crazy your crazy. And I am not talking about garden variety attempts to convince you to see their side of the story. No, this is actually infecting you with their particular delusion so that you begin to not only question your own logic, but the rules of all known social engagement.
People who are capable of this “talent” tend to be a) grossly incompetent and acting defensively to protect the shrine of inadequacy they have spent a lifetime building, b) smart and manipulative, or c) both. Meeting someone who is both incredibly smart and grossly incompetent is indeed rare – it’s a bit like seeing a unicorn, except from what I have heard that tends to be a lovely experience of which many first graders enjoy drawing pictures.
Unfortunately, I spent the majority of my life dealing with mi loca tu loca from my family, although for the first 15 or 20 years I didn’t really understand what I was up against. Regardless, you would think that would make me somewhat of an expert on how to deal with it. Sadly, I don’t think it does, mainly because the laws of human interaction don’t apply to these soul-suckers, so often there is no rational way out. The only benefit I can see at this point is that I am a master MLTL detector. I am a f**cking bloodhound when it comes to identifying these folks. The feeling is always the same – a few minutes into a conversation, I get the distinct feeling that I am the unwitting victim of a Vulcan mind meld, and that a complete stranger is somehow brainwashing me into thinking that, even thought pure logic and reality would dictate otherwise, that somehow I am in the wrong or owe them something.
Normally, I can deal with these people on an occasional basis. But somehow, today was the perfect storm of folks who kept assaulting me with their voodoo magic in the hopes that I would suddenly agree that the sky is green and has three suns.
It started with a computer training that I had to complete for my new job. Mandatory, of course. Knowing how much I just love CBL experiences, I dutifully cancelled half a day of work to schedule a three hour training session. And as a freelancer, that cost me. People with full time jobs don’t always realize that taking off work for us consultant folks hits us right in the wallet. But I didn’t mind – it’s just one of those things you do and get on with your life.
Turns out that I was the only one scheduled for this training, which meant I had the full attention of the instructor for three hours. Initially I thought this wouldn’t be such a bad thing, as I could monopolize her with my individual questions and not feel guilty for hijacking a class.
As the session went on, however, I quickly realized two things. The first was that this woman was truly from a computer based learning cult, and she had drunk the Koolaid. I’m not sure how many times she waxed ecstatically over the program’s “exciting features” and “thrilling application potential”, but 30 minutes into it I was already exhausted, and she might as well have had pom poms and been wearing a cheerleader outfit.
The second, and more important, was that she clearly had an agenda for the afternoon that didn’t involve me. I had been scheduled from 1pm-4pm, and she informed me after we were an hour into the training that there was some sort of departmental meeting that was happening that day at 3pm.
That’s when the Vulcan mind meld started creeping in. Her tone changed ever so subtly as she told me that it was very possible that we would finish in 2 hours (fat chance), and that if we did, she could attend the meeting, but that she certainly didn’t want to shortchange my time. And she would be more than happy to schedule another session with me at a more convenient location for me so we could complete the training and give it the full attention it deserved. And that way everyone could get all the information they needed.
My thought process, already blunted by the assault of computer program information that had no real meaning for me yet, reflexively shifted over and I started mentally thumbing through my calendar, wondering if I could find a chink in my schedule to meet her at a local Starbucks for an hour. mindmeldmindmeldmindmeld
Luckily, all those years of family training kicked in, and I startled back into reality. Sorry, didn’t I already take off half a day of work to meet your training schedule, and now you are asking me to kick off an hour early and take off more work to reschedule with you so you can make some dumb meeting? And implying that I would be selfish not to?
Hell no lady. I politely but firmly informed her that this was the only day off this week that I was able to schedule this session (which was true), and that rescheduling for one hour of training simply wouldn’t be possible. She said of course she understood, but her expression completely conveyed the opposite. And she couldn’t resist one last dig (mindmeldmindmeldmindmeld) when she said she was pretty sure she could get the critical information she was missing from a colleague.
Once I had completed ALL THREE hours of training (with her becoming increasingly flustered after all that song and dance at actually being time pressured to finish), I was happy to get home and relax. Yet almost immediately, I got sucked into a ridiculously lengthy email exchange with an agency that had hired me for some consult work, accepted my terms of service, and then negged on paying my full invoice, claiming that reimbursement for travel and overtime had not been preapproved. The pinnacle of this asshattery was an email from the SENIOR accounting manager, who actually said, “I don’t know you at all….but c’mon….we’re all Human.” I mean, who talks like that? As if I am somehow going to suddenly bolt upright (mindmeldmindmeldmindmeld) and say, “By golly, you’re right! Who cares if you bilk me and all your other contractors out of money we are owed and propagate ethical fraud on the professional community at large? I mean, c’mon! I must have been crazy to complain to you!”
C’mon is right. You can keep your !@#$%^& loca to yourself. :)