Give me a straight answer!

In case you thought I’d gone all soft from getting such good news about the New York deal:


The same shit happens in personal relationships and work relationships.  You ask a straight question and you don’t get a straight answer.  Or you ask a simple yes/no question and get a vague answer that isn’t yes or no.  Or you ask an open question and the person answers with a yes or no that doesn’t make any sense.  Sometimes it seems clear the person is doing it deliberately to be evasive.  Sometimes they don’t seem to realise they’re doing it.  And sometimes they do it because they don’t give a shit about you.

Politicians are, of course, past masters at this.  That’s because most of them are pathological liars who are scared to commit to anything.  They’re driven by polls rather than any actual commitment to an ideal.  And I’m NOT talking about politicians who change their minds.  I get so angry when somebody who’s actually willing to think about an issue is called a “flip-flopper”.

Yeah, being willing to consider that circumstances can change is a serious fucking character flaw.  The idiocy of associating intelligence and open-mindedness with weakness was best summed up by Steven Colbert when he ripped George W Bush apart at the 2006 Whitehouse Correspondent’s Dinner.  His description of W:

“The greatest thing about this man is he’s steady. You know where he stands. He believes the same thing Wednesday, that he believed on Monday, no matter what happened Tuesday. Events can change, this man’s beliefs never will.”

That sums him up perfectly.  That sort of attitude isn’t resolute and clear.  It’s fucking stupid.

I actually wandered a bit of the topic there.  What got me in this mood was a little “issue” at work recently.  Part of my job is defining the requirements for the project we’re working on.  I don’t agree with the attitude some people have about requirements being carved in stone, but once they get signed off you need a pretty clear reason to change them. 

Changing requirements doesn’t necessarily mean a project is in trouble.  In fact it’s often a positive sign – people are thinking and finding ways to improve things.  But when someone won’t give straight answers about their motivations it drives me fucking crazy.  Here’s a little discussion that happened at work recently.  I’ve broken it up into what “he” said, what I said and in brackets what I was saying in my head.

HE SAID: We need the integration function between the systems to bring across these extra fields

I SAID: Where did this requirement come from?

(Hey, I did this one, what are you trying to pin on me?)

HE: There are some fields that will be needed in this report that the integration

I: What are you basing that on?

(Seriously, what the fuck are you up to?)

HE: We don’t want to have to add these fields manually, that’s too much extra work.

I: But why is this coming up now?  Everyone involved agreed we had everything we needed covered.

(Don’t fuck with me over this, I’m not in the mood.)

HE: Looking at this report, I see some fields that are missing.

I: But what was the source of this requirement?

(Why won’t you answer the question I’m asking?)

HE:  There are these fields…

I: What conversation with what person triggered this?  What makes you bring this up now?  I went over these requirements in fine detail with everyone involved and what you are saying was never mentioned as a requirement.

(I mean it, six fucking meetings with 20 fucking people.  Don’t try and make it look like I’m not doing my job.)

HE:  We’re going to need to add these fields…

I: Shut the fuck up!  You’re making this shit up!  I’m not taking your crap, I’m out of here.

(Maybe we should schedule another meeting with all the stakeholders to work out what’s really required.)

The moral of this story is: Don’t have conversations in your head while you’re talking to someone because you might get them confused.



Filed under General Angriness, Work

9 responses to “Give me a straight answer!

  1. Congrats on NY, but I dropped in via Australian Blogs, and man, you rock. Are you sure we don’t work for the same company or a similar company? I’ll remember the moral, I have plenty of conversations in my head..on a daily basis, actually, and I’ve always been afraid that my Travis Bickle moments will bite me on the arse one day.

  2. OMG!!! I know exactly how you feel! I get into almost that exact same scenario with my boss half the time.

    I ask a straight up question: “Is our office move date of Oct. 5, still good?” (which is just 2.5 weeks away now – I should FUCKING know this info by now!)

    Him – “I’m sorry, what was the question?”

    “Are we moving on 10/5? Yes or no?”

    “Oh look…the clouds are pretty today”

    “AUGH! Are we fucking moving or not?? I’ve got phones, computers, furniture, movers, installers and a 100 other pieces of shit to deal with to make this happen”

    “Oh…my wife said we should have the company picnic in October, when it’s not so hot.”


    “I’m sorry…were you speaking to me?”

    Me— beating my head against my desk until my brains start to leak out…………..

    Sadly, this is a true story…well, except for the brains part….that’s actually me slamming HIS head into the desk until his brains start to leak out.. Oh wait…. nothing there…that explains everything!


  3. Anastasia: Thanks. Sadly, I think this is a generic description of far too many workplaces.

    CinnKitty: It’s all so horrifyingly familiar!

  4. What’s more annoying is when it’s a technical question about how X works, or whether you can do Y. But despite the fact that the questioner knows exactly what they want, and how to ask for it, they ask every other question first.


    Them: “Did you work on XXXX?”
    Me: “Yes.”

    Them: “Did you need to change XXX setting?”
    Me: “Why yes I did.”

    Them: “Were you using ”
    Me: “Yep.”


    Them: “Did you change it in the XXXX file?”
    Me: “No.”

    Them: “Oh, I really wanted to know how to change YYYY in the XXXX file using ZZZZ.”
    Me: “Oh, well, you probably do that like this. but I didn’t have to do it on that project.”

    I mean, you knew what you wanted to know, so just ask! It’s bad enough when people don’t know what they want… but when you do there’s no excuse!

  5. Sound like the type who wants to protect their “secret knowledge”. They make you jump through hoops for the benefit of their enlightenment.

  6. This is why I don’t have a boss.

    Oh wait. I don’t have a job either.

    Excellent post.

  7. There is always a trade-off with jobs 🙂

  8. william krumholz

    It seems that hardly any one can or will give a straight answer to a question any more , it also drives me crazy the worst one`s wont say anything , and just ignore you , I find this is a most common trait of Liberals , who disgust me in the first place so I just try to avoid them period if possible , however if I get no answer in these situations I will chase them like trying to kill an ant with an ice pick until I get them one way or the other .

  9. Brad

    A straight answer! This is something, that I believe no longer exists. A politician either will not or cannot give a straight answer, for fear of telling the truth, for fear of falling outside political guidelines, or the fact that they are born liars. To be a politician you are either a liar or a hypocrite. It such a shame, that to be part of public office, one must give up ALL self-respect, it is part and parcel of the job. There are many who started on the road, in good faith. Only to fall by the wayside, because it was just too hard.

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