Friday, February 10, 2012

between a rock and a hard place

You can't go forward
You can't go backward
You can't stay in place

What are you going to do?

~ a Zen koan

This week I met with a bus driver who told me that he felt caught between the public and his employer. He told me that there aren't enough buses during rush hour so buses often run late. People board the bus in a foul mood and complain to him, blaming and sometimes even threatening him when the bus is not on time. It's not his fault there aren't enough buses; but do they care? The bus company, on the other hand, expects him to manage cranky passengers with tact and self-restraint. If he loses his temper and snaps back, and the passenger files a complaint, he will be reprimanded by the boss. He may be under great stress and defending himself against an aggressive customer; but does the boss care?

This driver felt sandwiched between what he called the “je m'en foutisme” (the “I don't careism”) of consumers and employers. Nobody sees the bigger picture, blaming an employee for a problem which is not his, but nobody cares or really wants to solve it. He is caught in the wedge of their indifference but the more he pushes back, the more it chafes and hurts. This is a no-win situation.

There's a time and place to fight but it's not when you're caught between a rock and a hard place. This is a time to do nothing.

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