Thursday, June 2, 2011

Is complaining OK?

I don't like people complaining about things, but today I feel like complaining.   I just don't get it - how hard can it be just to be efficient, official, and friendly to make everything go more smoothly?


If you write an official work-related letter (= e-mail) to someone you don't know at your workplace or wherever, at least include a title on the letter (so it doesn't look like spam), explain what the request is about (don't just ask them to open an pdf), and include a signature line with your full name and contact information so the recipient know who they are dealing with and where they are located. This is just common courtesy among work people, I think, but I see people failing to follow this all the time at the Big University where I work.

If you send a letter to a foreign (American) address, at least include the full address (even if it doesn't fit Swedish standards), and don't just delete the city name.  Thankfully the letter we were waiting for made it anyway, despite being incomplete and arrived here today.

If you write a letter, don't date the letter three days after it was sent.  Postmarks don't lie.

If you write to anybody, by e-mail or letter, sign any decision or order or directive with your name, and your contact information.  Don't let the letter be a anonymous bureaucratic nobody's responsibility. Take responsibility for your actions, even if it is just for sending a letter or making a decision.  In my experience, many Swedes are especially bad at making official decisions (it has to be backed up by official policy or a boss have to tell you what to do).  Here in America you can always make decisions and then apologize for them, which has other problems associated with it :). But making a decision and then not signing off on it, is weak.

Make sure you write the addressee's name correctly, and especially do not mix up last and first names.  (OK, this can be hard for Chinese names, but should not be a problem for Swedish and American names that are constructed the same way).We just got a letter today where the last name was the first name and vice versa and it should have been obvious it was wrong.  So nobody took the time to 1) put in the name correctly, and 2) check that the name was correct. (They also got the street name wrong... sloppy....)

A new rule from our not so dear governor of NJ, states that to be a professor, custodian, or just an employee at a NJ state-funded university you have to live in NJ, unless you get a special exemption. All current employees are exempt, but not if you move or get hired. The governor doesn't care that only 20% or so of the university budget is funded by the state and that considerations regarding spouses and others might make you decide to live in New York and Pennsylvania (Philadelphia), cities that are right next to NJ but not in our state.

More annoyances - the Check Engine light on my car goes on and off like a delayed lighthouse with PMS.  You never know when it will hit and when it will turn off.  I ignore it mostly. As long as the engine runs smoothly it is OK.  But it has done this for 7 years... Subaru, fix your electronics.

But there are good things too:  The Griggstown CSA had their first pickup today and it was great (about 8 kilo of fresh organic vegetables), the sun was shining without it being to hot, and the tomato plants are thriving in my garden despite the Colorado beetle I found yesterday. It is now dead and will soon be mounted on an insect pin for my Dad in Sweden.  I bet he doesn't have one in his collection.

OK, I am cranky tonight.  But in general, life works so much more smoothly if everybody is just trying to be pleasant, efficient, exact, and do the right thing.  It is not that hard, but it doesn't allow for sloppiness or irresponsibility, I guess. Accountability is not a bad thing...

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