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Monday, June 19, 2017

Somebody at Work Keeps Bringing Their Kid In

 
Somebody at work keeps bringing their kid in and I thought this would be a good thought experiment. My intention is to demonstrate what's going through the heads of those people who want to burn down health care, transgender bathrooms, marijuana regulation, immigration reform, and the like.


Someone at work, an Indian woman, one of the QA, brings her kid in to work about once a month for the past two months. Seven or eight year old boy. Mostly he plays on an iPad all day, but I occasionally see him run around or during an all-team meeting, coming to get his Mom for something. He doesn't make trouble.



THE EMOTION

This feels wrong. This is a workplace. The intended residents are adults. There is nothing here for a child. People should not be bringing their kids to the office.

Oh, sure, everyone else loves it, they're all charismatic. They love children, they have children of their own. But I've got shit to do, you know? And every time that kid makes the littlest squee, my spine tingles. My parent-sense twitches. I come to work to avoid kids.

Isn't there a daycare? Don't you have another parent you cohabitate with? Can't you work from home on days like this? That's the biggest one--we all have laptops. The system is DESIGNED for you to work mobile and remotely. So there should be no need to come into work when circumstances do not favor it. What, you can't afford wi-fi? I doubt it, with the kind of salary my contemporaries get.


THE RATIONAL

I mean, it's not like I do or say anything during the day that a kid shouldn't hear. Not that I do anything he should--it's a neutral place. The kid is really not interfering with your ability to work. There are bigger things in the environment, like crowdedness and proxies and noise and useless meetings and product managers that don't send you stuff when they promise, that are more of a factor on your ability to work than this kid.

You don't know this person's situation. And if you weren't an asshole anti-social, you might know why. You might get to know this mother-son family, and maybe make a friend in the process. But I'm not here to talk about the future. That's the abstract, that's not my department.

There's nothing in the employee handbook that says a kid CAN'T come to work. I know that's the "Air Bud" schism, but it's true. And again, it's not impacting your ability. It's a minor annoyance, but I'm sure not as much of an annoyance as it is for the mom who has to monitor him. But to you, it's trivial. In fact today, when you worked from home, you spent more time helping your kids play Zelda then you have spent in total thinking about this kid.

The kid's not hurting anything. This isn't like "Stilwell" from "A League of Their Own" or the kid from "Problem Child". He's not pulling out plugs or smearing cream cheese on your seat. His mom is keeping him wrangled. He's not affecting you in any way.



Here's the deal. The rational should always triumph the emotion. I don't mean to sound like we should make a world of Spocks, but the fact is that at the root of emotions is selfishness. All the feelings I listed above. They're all about how I feel. They take nothing of what anyone else feels into account. And when emotion gets to cancel out rational, people get hurt.
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