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Dear Jon Letters: Second Sort

Now including actual questions from Partial Observers!

by Dear Jon
November 13, 2000

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Dear Jon Letters: Second Sort_Dear Jon-Now including actual questions from Partial Observers! This is an advice column. If you ask me for advice, I will give it. If you do not ask me for advice, I will still give it. I am not qualified in any way, except that I have a very high regard for my own opinion.

Dear Jon:

In this year's office Fantasy Football League I had Drew Bledsoe and Brett Favre as my quarterbacks, and they both suck. Who would you play next week?

Cubicle Coach

Dear Coach:

I would play Daunte Culpepper, but that is not an option for you. Sorry.

Actual Letter to Dear Jon!

Dear Jon,

I am having a small battle with a coworker who won't pull his weight. He refuses to learn the more technical (computer) aspects of his job, and continually tries to pass those tasks on to me. When I offer to assist him while still refusing to do his work for him, he won't take my help. We work in different departments under different VPs. Before our battle becomes a coporate war, what can I do with somebody so incompetent and recalcitrant?

Frustrated Guru

Dear Frustrated,

In a previous career before I became an advice columnist, I talked about "recalcitrance" and "incompetence" as two leading factors that prevent reform in any corporate culture, especially not-for-profit corporations where administrative staff are tenured for three reasons: 1) nepotism, 2) no one else is willing to hire themselves for such niggardly wages, 3) at Christian not-for-profits, there is a misplaced sense of compassion for the incompetent employee who would likely starve if they had to go out into the real world and find a job that expected competence,
flexibility, and production.

My advice is that, if you are in a for-profit culture, the measure of your competence versus the other person's incompetence will be evident in the contribution to the bottom line; in which case, ride it out, because the incompetent worker will be fired. If you are in a not-for-profit culture, your frustration reflects that you are yourself one of the tenured administrative staff. This might mean that you are competent and willing to hire yourself out for niggardly wages. My advice in this case, is that the tenured staffer with whom you have problems will never, ever lose their job, whether you help them out or not. You can cope through avoiding mechanisms, such as screening all calls through voice-mail. Or, you can quit and find a job that pays real money. The other possibility is that you are recalcitrant and incompetent and hanging on by the threads of some Christian supervisor; your conflict has to do with your own stalling device: the "It's Not My Job" syndrome which is the favorite refrain of incompetent, recalcitrant employees. My advice in this latter case, is that you should shut up.

Dear Jon:

I'm leaving my $65,000/yr job with Portland Cement to work as the CFO of a dot.com company my old college roommate is starting in his garage. We're marketing Tiddly Winks with the faces of Presidents on one side, and their vital statistics on the other. We're very excited about the potential of tiddlypres.com. Of course, my buddy needs some venture capital. I was thinking of cashing out my six-figure IRA from Portland Cement to get our dream off the ground. What I would like to know is, once we are off the ground and can move into a real headquarters, would it be tacky to call my new executive suite the "Oval Office," or would it be one of those funny quirky things to boost the morale of our postmodern employees?

Chassy in Schaumburg, IL

Dear Chassy:

You are in luck! Not only can I consult on the wisdom of Retirement Accounts for venture capital, but I also have lots of opinions about interior decorating and morale boosting. I want to make sure that people like you, people with DREAMS, don't just throw your money away! (Like those health benefits at Portland Cement. If you weren't using them, why bother getting hit with the payroll deduction, right? It's money down the drain! Better to go out on your own, and cross the bridge of illness and hospitalization when you come to it!) Have your people contact my people (through "dear Jon") and we can set something up. For just a thousand dollars an hour (ten hour minimum) you will find in me an exhaustive resource of opinions. Don't delay! Call today!

Actual Letter to Dear Jon!

Dear Jon,

I have a friend who has what I think is an irrational fear of pickles. I thought to myself, "What better person to give me advice about this than a homophobic columnist?" Is my fear that his fear of pickles is irrational irrational? Or just plain good old common sense?

Dear Jon,

It's me again, the guy concerned with his friend's picklephobia. I forgot to sign my last message. I forgot to sign this one, too.

Dear Picklephobia,

Pardon me, but I am not homophobic. Some of my best friends know a couple people who have cousins who live in San Francisco that ride trolleys frequented by homosexuals. The accusation that I am homophobic is utterly inane, as absurd as the completely untrue assertion that all my macho-masculine attitudes cover up a homo-erotic fascination with my own feminine nature. And as to pickles: I hate pickles, and I have friends who hate pickles. This does not make us picklephobic, because we have many friends who eat pickles. I do not know what else they do with pickles, nor am I in the least fascinated to think about all the uses for pickles, nor am I tempted in any way to experiment with pickles.

Dear Jon:

My husband does not talk to me anymore. I feel like I am living with a brick wall. When I have something on my mind, he just doesn't seem to listen. What can I do so that he pays attention to me? I just want to have a normal conversation again, someone I can talk to. My friends are nice, but I want the security I once felt when my husband and I could share intimately with each other about our deepest feelings. I'm really glad I could get this off my chest. So, do you think you can help?

Sad and Ignored in Altoona, PA.

Dear Altoona: Yeah, whatever you want is fine with me.

Dear Jon:

If you woke a genie out of a bottle and you had your choice of a Nebraska Cornhusker Championship Three-peat, a billion dollars, or Peace on Earth, what would you choose?

Can't Make Up My Mind

Dear Mind:

You're an idiot. I cannot make a Nebraska football championship happen on my own. But there is a possibility that I can make a billion dollars on my own, especially if this column gets syndicated. If I had a billion dollars I could dedicate my life to Peace on Earth by leveraging various Senators and Congressmen and the International Monetary Fund. So obviously, the genie gives the Cornhuskers a Three-peat! Duh!

Dear Jon:

How can you be a fan of the Nebraska Cornhuskers when half their team are felons and their coaches only care about winning? Those hoodlums ought to be locked up, but there they are, on the screen, their night-time
antics covered up by university administration. And the media is complicit, too. Oh sure, they will cover the story if it breaks by itself. But Nebraska Football means television advertising, and stadium revenue! The whole thing has besmirched the integrity of inter-collegiate athletics! You should be ashamed to ally yourself with a program that is little more than a factory for football players and violent criminals!

Outraged in Kansas.

Dear Kansas:

Shut up.

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