2007-07-18

Make believe

As a child, I played "make believe" a lot. We constructed forts out of sofa cushions, an imaginary jail between the large rocks in the front yard, and the playground equipment at elementary school made a more than suitable space ship. Occasionally, I'd even play "house" with my siblings. One of my sisters was the mom who stayed home and cooked Fisher Price hot dogs on the Fisher Price range, while one of the boys would play dad and go off to pretend work, while the other brother and sister played children or some miscellaneous robber. (This was a simpler time -- we weren't concerned with gender politics.)

Now that I'm grown, and actually have a job, it's strikes me how disturbingly similar it is to the make believe employment I had as an eight-year old. Today, for example, I got a call from someone who needed a report on the work I had just barely starting doing. He needed a time-cost estimate and an outline of how I was going to do the thing that I didn't know how to do. I didn't bother explaining my situation to him, since his request clearly illustrated that he had no idea what was going on either. At the conclusion of the phone call, I pondered exactly what to do...

This, ladies and gentlemen, is where my experience with "make believe" comes in. I then spent the next two hours writing a document that describes, in varying degrees of obfuscation and vagueness, how long it would take me to do something that I really don't know how to do. The great irony of all this is that the requester of this document is also pretending he knows what is going on, and it's his job to convince the customer that both of us know what we're doing. I understand he's pretty good at it.

I guess all that make believe paid off.