I'm no stranger to the temptation of digging my heels in and preferring not to. I imagine, most mornings, as I drag my exhausted body up the two flights of stairs, the possibility of sitting down on the stairs and going back to sleep. (The events unfold in my mind, taking on the concreteness of a whole alternative universe, so that even now, part of me probably is sitting on those stairs.) I imagine the first person to walk past me. "Are you okay?" "Yes, thank you." For many people, enquiring further would mean breaking out of the comfort-zone of small-talk. It's a vivid and persistent fantasy. But every morning, instead of sitting down on the stairs, I drag myself into the office. I hang my coat up. I try to breathe life into my frozen fingers. "Morning," I say. I make coffee.
I suspect it's partly because of the vein of avoidance and giving-up that I can feel pulsing through my own conscious (and down into the subconscious, down like the rotten root of a tooth) that I am SO UTTERLY SICK AND TIRED of trying to make excuses for somebody else, trying to phrase emails tactfully so that they don't actually say "I haven't a clue because this hasn't been communicated to anybody by the one person who knows anything about it, who isn't here and whom we have no means of contacting," so that we don't look utterly hopeless as a team. I am sick of listening to the phone on the next desk along ringing, and not daring to answer it (not that it's my job to answer other people's phones, but it stops the damn thing ringing) because I know it's the same people who yelled at me last time I picked up their call because their emails (which I didn't receive) weren't answered and because I'd failed to deputise efficiently for somebody who doesn't communicate with me.
It's not even about the discrepancies in pay and effort. I get paid enough (though I'd like to get paid more), and other individuals' salaries don't really have a direct impact on mine. I don't even care, at the end of the day, if other people avoid doing work which is their responsibility ... so long as they get on with their procrastination quietly and don't actually obstruct me when I'm trying to work. I procrastinate too. I don't work as hard as I might. I could argue that it's hard to stay motivated when so much of my work is obstructed by lack of communication, lack of knowledge, and lack of authority; but that's not the only reason. I have tendencies towards laziness which I fight to the best of my ability. I guess we all do, sometimes; inertia is a powerful force.
In the end, it's about independence and motivation. It's hard to keep motivating myself to work when every small task (and I'm talking here about tasks which may take as little as 30 seconds) throws my brain into a loop of worrying whether acting on this request will simply result in my work being undone, undermined, or objected to; whether I can legitimately ask anybody else for clearance without it looking like I'm going over people's heads or behind their backs -- or just making a fuss about nothing; whether I can, in fact, assume any degree of autonomy in my work. And the easiest answer is always "Do nothing." Easiest... and unacceptable. If I'm not going to action people's requests, I know I should at least tell them that their request has been received and is in some kind of queue. If I can't action them, I should be able to delegate them. If I can't do either, because all the relevant personnel are absent, I should at least be able to a) say so, and/or b) give an estimate of when that person will return and the task can be actioned. If I can't do anything, my brain just goes round and round like a stuck record.
And of course, I can't raise any of this with anybody (again), because I've been told time and time again (again) that it will all change after the Big Review which will take about 3 months from the starting point (with "flexible" deadline) of finding a consultant. And, to be honest, the current situation has already gone on too long for anybody to confront it in anything other than an apocalyptic manner. We've long missed the point where somebody could have said "I say, chaps..." or "It would be helpful if you could..." or anything like that. People have tried to say things, but it's always met with the say-yes-and-do-nothing technique... or simply a wall of silence. And nobody quite dares be the one to point out the elephant in the office. To say, firmly and clearly, "This is unacceptable." Perhaps nobody feels (I certainly don't) that they have quite enough moral high ground to be the one to throw the first stone. Perhaps everybody realises (and I certainly do) that anything which made a difference would also destroy any pretence of good working relations between people.
Perhaps this is all far too heavy for something which, at the end of the day, isn't killing anybody.
But I'm just so tired.