Aware, but Misunderstood


Silence is the language of God, all else is poor translation.

It is becoming increasingly clear that the communication streams at my job are completely ineffective. The email chains get passed over and left for dead. They are just more noise than useful information. It is to the point that it’s keeping me awake wondering if So & So or Fulano understood that the upstairs department actually required action on the downstairs department.Fortune smiled on me in this position to be able to work briefly with each department, yet still return to my own refuge where I’m able to work in silence. The cross training from each area exposed me to the intricate little details and their meaning. Each area in the building has their own catch phrases with meanings that are really only understood by the people in that block of the building. The problem comes when one area communicates the necessity to do something in their own language to another department in the building that speaks a completely different language.

Now to be clear we all speak the same mother tongue and we are all from the same country of that mother tongue. In addition, this is a small company. There are less than 50 employees on a variety of shifts. It would be great if we could have the excuse of diversity in language or culture but all of us are from here, being born, raised, and educated in the same dialect. The trail of excuses really doesn’t exist.

The problem with educated adults is they love their little specialized terminology. Some of this includes acronyms and some of it is just elaborately created definitions for normal words. A short is a short is a short and a route is a route is a route. If only that were the case..…

For the transportation department, a “route” is creme de la creme, everything that their universe revolves around. Send them a communication regarding a customer without a routing number and watch out! You are going to hear back, double duty, second email chain. For the customer service department, a “route” is another little element in a chain of typos to put into the emails when explaining how or why we failed to meet a customer’s need. Trying to talk to this group of people without a customer number is like talking to the moon. All of their numerations have to do with either the customer number or the item number that the customer did or did not receive correctly. The life of a healthy electronic order is in their hands so in the CS world those details are a big deal. (oh did you catch that a CS is a customer service representative, one of those little assumptions that CS thinks everyone knows). Everything that passed across the desk of those two departments ends up in shipping.

Someone has to do the dirty work, pick up a box, and put it on a pallet, so that the routes, the items, and the customers can all be taken care of. Shipping is another world all to itself. Its language is loading orders, pick slots, dock doors, and drop rotations. The workhorses of these areas are really young adults, fresh out of high school, with the most energy and the least education. Specialty terminology is completely moot. Pick it up, put on a pallet, and take it to the door 7. Someone in an office down there knows that door 7 has route 927 for customer 525524 and it is going to be delivered tomorrow at 6 am. At least they should know.

So what happens when the one box that’s supposed to go to door 7 goes to door 10? The email nightmare begins, in triplicate in three different dialects of WAREHOUSE.

I’m going back to my quiet spot.

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