Through a glass darkly

"For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known." (1 Corinthians 13:12)KJV

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Splat Happens

In my long career working in the Aerospace industry, I have noticed a phenomenon that I have titled "Splat Syndrome". Splat is what happens when a deer or some other animal caught in the headlights of an oncoming car, refuses (or is unable by some mental paralysis) to move out of the way before it is too late. The deer goes splat against the vehicle.

In Splat Syndrome, a person knows that bad news is coming their way potentially and yet, for whatever reason, they are unable to make the necessary corrective steps to avoid being devastated by such news. (note: there are some catastrophes that are unavoidable, but I'm referring to those over which we do have a measure of control.)

I first observed Splat Syndrome over 20 years ago when I was a young engineer. I saw some fellows get layoff notices and watched them complain for the next two months about having to find a new job while they did nothing towards finding one.

One guy I observed a few years later, had been warned for months that layoffs were coming for his position and that he was particularly in danger due to his low seniority. When the layoff notice finally came, he was given an additional three months (with pay!) to find a new position. One of the supervisiors lined him up with an interview at another nearby company. That company offered him a better job with more pay that he turned down because he thought maybe he could find something even better. Another co-worker turned him on to a civil service job with even more pay, less work and excellent job security. He had successfully interviewed for that position and only needed to take an easy written exam to secure the job. Instead, he was over an hour late for the test, which he could have walked to from his house - so no excuses about about transportation, and decided to blow it off. After he finally lost his job, he still remained in denial about needing to actually send out resumes, go on interviews and show up on time. Unemployment eventually ran out and he was forced to move in with his family. SPLATTTTTTT.

Every once in a while, I see the same patterns of behavior repeated over and over by different people - not just when they received layoff notices, but sometimes when they were forced to move to a new apartment, or even when they'd had been warned that their job behavior needed to change. They instead were gripped with this paralysis and rather than doing what any sensible person would do, they were run over by circumstances and left wondering as to how this happened.

I've recently observed a person I know, fortunately not at my company, about to become splatted. Those around them have warned that things need to change -the boss, their co-workers, even the person's friends have tried, all to no avail. The individual acts as though they are daring the boss to fire them and perhaps they are -the soon-to-be splattee shows everyone around them that they no longer desire to work there and they are looking for a career change.
Too bad that they don't have the fortitude and integrity to do it themselves, but again, maybe Splat Syndrome really is some sort of mental glitch that keeps them locked into a terrible fate. Who knows?

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