Five Routine Minutes: The Martin Luther TechniquePosted: May 20, 2013
Last week, the microwave oven in my office died. It was replaced by a toaster. As you may recall, I found the toaster inadequate an appliance for heating up soup.
I returned to work on Sunday. I was certain that, days after the microwave went into the big sleep, a new machine would be in place. After all, I work for an agency with a huge budget. This kind of expenditure was nothing in the grand scheme of things. At lunch time I went into the break room. There was a microwave on the counter. The old one.
It didn’t light up. It didn’t make a sound. It didn’t make my soup hot. It didn’t make me happy.
Of course, the bastards were not working. It was, after all, Sunday.
On Monday, I went in to the office. The old microwave was still. Still on the counter, and still.
I went to my roll call meeting and joked about the former microwave. One of my people spoke up and said that he and one of his peers had taken the appliance apart at the direction of one of our administrative staff. They found, and replaced a blown fuse. “It works now”, he announced. I told him it did not work.
At lunch time, the toaster was the only living appliance on the counter. I found a drawing of a tombstone with “R.I.P.” on it. I altered it to say “R.I.P. Microwave” and taped it to the break room door.
Five minutes later, the administrator who directed the surgery on the old appliance came by my desk holding my tombstone picture. He held it up and said “this isn’t funny.”
I didn’t autograph the sign. There were no witnesses. He just came right to me. I’m being held responsible for things based on my previous deeds. Not all of them, just the deeds obvious enough for him to know about. (For instance, I know he went in search of who did this to our boss’ desk.)
Being told it wasn’t funny was offensive and harsh. No one ever said Martin Luther wasn’t funny, they just excommunicated him.
Later in the day, after I got back from lunch, there was an e-mail addressed to the office. It explained the surgical effort that was undertaken to revive the former lunch warming box thing. It blamed an unknown party who had dared to unplug, then plug back in the microwave for killing it a second time. The e-mail closed with a victorious proclamation that all was well again in the break room. The appliance was fixed. Hot lunch was back on the agenda.
Shortly thereafter, the administrator sent another e-mail. It said simply, “It broke again. I give up. I’ll buy a new one.”
- Five Routine Minutes: What Does Replace Mean? (blurtblog.net)