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Alphabetter, alphabest - shadows of echoes of memories of songs — LiveJournal
Alphabetter, alphabest
Today I was asked to do "something a bit different" in addition to reading through interminable files and throwing away bits of paper. The "something different" turned out to be sorting letters about donations into piles depending on which college the donations were for. Apparently this needed doing urgently and the person (I pity him) who normally does it was off sick.

The lady who was overseeing this thrilling operation talked me through the procedure. "Sort them in alphabetical order, but, um, not by person, because there's too many of them. Alphabetical order by college, but you probably won't want to do that at first, because there's too many of them, so just, you know, make a pile here, say, 'this is A-C, this is D and E', you know, sort of like that, and then sort them afterwards, into piles."

Reader, it was a close thing, but I did manage to avoid shouting: "I KNOW WHAT ALPHAFUCKINGBETICAL ORDER IS! I HAVE A DEGREE IN ENGLISH FROM A REAL UNIVERSITY!"

* * *

More abstract rambling to follow -- despite all the ranting and bitching, the routine tasks I've been doing in this temp job have actually taught me some useful things about the way I think and the way I approach tasks, and I think it might be productive to set that down in writing, if I can.
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chrisvenus From: chrisvenus Date: January 27th, 2004 10:37 am (UTC) (Link)
Sounds more computer sciencey to me. Its not like she was telling you that B comes after A, I think it sounds more like she was trying to describe an efficient algorithm for sorting. So what you should have said was "I KNOW HOW TO FUCKING SORT THINGS! I'M A GEEK WITH AN OXFORD DEGREE!". THough of course I may be wrong, I wasn't there.
j4 From: j4 Date: January 27th, 2004 02:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
I suppose. Though I don't think it had occurred to her that I might have already had an efficient algorithm for sorting in alphabetical order, which is, let's face it, a fairly common order into which to sort things.

You've made me realise something else about the way I approach tasks, though. Am making notes for trying to write about things sensibly. In a couple of days' time I should be able to come up with something to which everybody else will read and say "well, duh, yes, obviously" and then I will feel very stupid again, but till then, I can feel like I've worked something out.
From: rmc28 Date: January 28th, 2004 12:58 am (UTC) (Link)
Many things aren't obvious until someone says them. I was so pleased with myself last week solving a coding problem, and then halfway to the pub I started thinking 'hang on, that's so bloody obvious I'm almost embarrassed to tell anyone about it'
rysmiel From: rysmiel Date: January 27th, 2004 11:50 am (UTC) (Link)
This becomes more credible when you have met people who will ask in so many words "What's a good algorithm for sorting my books ?"

*sympathetic hug*
j4 From: j4 Date: January 27th, 2004 03:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
I doubt if this lady even knew what "algorithm" meant. She knew about putting things in piles. She was very keen to show me where I should put different piles of things.

Hopefully new job will not feature quite so many piles of paper.
From: rmc28 Date: January 28th, 2004 12:57 am (UTC) (Link)
She knew about putting things in piles.

Ah, algorithm in physical form :)
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