Have you heard the term, ‘… got my goat.’? It means that someone is frustrated or nervous about something. This term comes from using a goat as a calming influence in a racehorse's stall and removing it just before the race, thereby making the horse nervous. I have discovered that I am sort of the goat at work. Apparently, I have a calming factor about me. I get calls all the time when an Office Administrator or OA is setting up a high-profile meeting and they are nervous and stressed out about what they are doing. They will contact me and ask me to come to the conference room to help. I arrive at the room and ask how I can help them. They will say something like, just sit here and make sure I am doing this correctly as they are configuring the computer for the meeting. Most times they are doing everything correctly, but they want me to hang out until the meeting starts. I have even been asked to dial into the meeting from my desk. I guess the knowledge that I am nearby or listening in is enough to help with their anxiety. One time an OA sent me an IM asking me to come to a conference room where she was setting up an ISS Program Review for one of the Boeing Vice Presidents. When I arrived, she pointed to a chair nearby and said, “Just sit there. I have the room set up, but I need you to sit there until the meeting starts.”
This has been happening for the last fifteen years working at Boeing in Houston. I recall several times when the room does have an issue and when I get there, the issue goes away, or I quickly resolve the issue. When I walk towards the door, I am asked to stay in the room to make sure all is good. Many of those times the meeting is about sensitive information, and I will hold out my badge to show that I don’t have the clearance level for this type of meeting. They say, it doesn’t matter, you need to stay in the room. I am ok with that. I do sign NDAs (Non-Disclosure Agreements) all the time, so I am covered by those as far as the information I am exposed to.
One time about 10 years ago, there was a high-level Future Combat System meeting that had Army and Air Force Generals and Colonels in the room. The stress level among the support folks as well as the attendees was high. I was asked to help in getting everyone set up for the meeting. The tables were in U-Shape, so I was inside the U going from person to person who were sitting on the outside of the U to help them connect their laptops and getting them on the network/internet. One Army General was having a bad day and he barked at me to get him on the internet so he can connect with his office. It was a demand that I needed to do what he says and do it now. I looked at him and said, “Sir, I don’t work for you or IT. I will be glad to help you with this but all I ask in return is that you show me some respect.” People close by stopped what they were doing to see what was going on. The General slowly stood up and put his hand out to shake my hand and said, “I apologize. You are right. If you don’t mind, would you help me get my laptop connected where I can communicate with my office?” I shook his hand and said, “It will be my privilege.” Later in the hallway just outside the room a soldier walked up to me and said he was the General’s Aide. He shook my hand and said he had never seen anyone say something like that to the General before and he was surprised that he responded like he did. He went on to say that he must be human after all.
As I write this, I am dialed into two high level meetings. I have a headset for my left ear for one meeting and an earbud for the phone that is dialed into the second meeting in my right ear. Amazing how the human brain can work with two different conversations going on while I write this. Time to wrap this up, I just got an IM to go to a conference room to help….