Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Six Stages of a Project

  We all have people in our lives who we know casually; maybe the neighbor down the street who works at the school or the gal at the coffee shop who always smiles when you come in. We might have a conversation in passing and while we might not consider them friends per se, we like them. We may not know them well enough to invite for dinner, and most likely we wouldn't engage them in a conversation about politics or family matters, but seeing them on a regular basis is kind of comforting. Whenever I go to Juneau I like to drop in to Donna's Restaurant for breakfast. Frequently I'm waited on by a gal who by now must be close to retirement.She's been there at least twenty years, and though I only travel to town a few times a year, I always look forward to seeing her. She keeps my coffee cup full and we engage in small talk and even though I'm not a regular she remembers me and smiles. Until recently I didn't know her name. I thought maybe she was Donna- who the restaurant was named after. Last time I was there though she had a name tag that said Cheri. Of course I'll forget her name before I get into Juneau again, but hopefully she'll be wearing that name tag again and I'll address her properly. However, this post isn't about Donna's or the waitress, but about a fellow named Ken. He worked for the Forest Service and since I have a contract with them, I would occasionally run into him. He was quiet and soft spoken. He lived on a small boat down in the harbor for a number of years - I guess it was much cheaper than renting a house. Nothing wrong with being thrifty. I'm not real certain, but I think he was of the natural foods type of persuasion- you know, eating honey instead of sugar, drinking rice milk and storing products in the company fridge with sayings like "No Preservatives and All Natural in bold lettering across the front. We were pretty much on different ends of the spectrum when it came to that stuff. It really didn't matter to me, except that last time I cleaned out the corporate refrigerator I had to dump two containers of rice milk that had a date that had expired seven months before. Being a bachelor he didn't stay on top of that stuff. Anyway, Ken retired last week. A few weeks before he was going through all his file cabinets, sorting through years of documents, most of which went in the trash. We spoke for a minute while he sorted through calendars and papers and notes and we both thought it odd that people hang on to so much useless stuff and that when it's time to retire, all the years of work can be summed up in the contents of a small cubicle. He's gone but promised to leave a forwarding address so I can at least send him a Christmas card. I doubt that I'll ever hear from him again though. Usually correspondence is a one way ticket with guys like Ken, but that's OK. He left behind some real treasures on his shelf; things he picked up along the way. Not one, but two hard hats, a couple sets of antlers that some deer dropped after the rut, a number of old paint cans that used to be used to mark boundary lines in the woods. I guess the common practice was to shove them into a root wad in the ground when they were empty years ago. Now when they're discovered  the employees bring them in. All of the cans on the shelf have been punctured multiple times by bears. For some reason they like the smell or taste of the paint. I've heard they used to puncture the plastic jugs that the loggers kept their chain saw oil in too. How odd is that? There are a few bear breads and unusual rocks and shells on the shelf as well. Though we really weren't friends, I'll miss our small conversations. For whatever reason I sat at his desk last weekend. I'd never seen it so clean. That's when I noticed a paper on the wall under the shelf. It's titled The Six Stages of a Project and I laughed for quite a while after I read it.  Here it is.

 The Six Stages of a Project

1. Enthusiasm
2. Disillusionment
3. Panic
4.Search for the guilty
5.Punishment of the innocent
6. Praise and honors for the non-participants

Thanks Ken. Though you were a man of few words I see that you could certainly understand the reality of working with other people.

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