Thursday, February 23, 2006

Barney Fyfe Syndrome

I need to bring your attention to a disease that's becoming widespread throughout the working world: Barney Fyfe Syndrome. Barney was of course the lovable character played by Don Knotts, who was always trying to puff himself up as far as being a 'big shot'(of course only to be deflated back to good ol' Barney by the end of the episode--well, usually). I guess you could say as well that Ralph Cramden was a precursor, or had an earlier strain of the illness..

Barney Fyfe Syndrome is a socio-occupational ailment(though not limited to the sphere of one's employment and thus possible in any human relationship), most commonly found in Security Guards but it can manifest itself in other types of jobs. It's characterized by an exaggerated sense of power and importance(delusions of governorship), which is of course fueled by just the opposite self-perception: one of impotence and unimportance which the person tries, often furiously, to compensate for, and often with comically Fyfe-like pomposity.

Years back, we had a Guard in our office who definitely had Barney's swagger. He just loved to lay down the law as regarded such major infractions as use of our public phones and people entering the back door without clearance. A joke around the office was that he'd probably end up macing employees from other offices coming in for training since they entered 'unauthorized'.

Well, okay, the back door thing(I'm still talking about building entrances, not anything anal- at least not yet)is a valid concern. But it's something you just take care of one way or another. And certainly not by macing anyone. But then that's one of the symptoms of Barney Fyfe Syndrome: the over-reaction to things, making mountains out of molehills. Unfortunately, what you usually get is just an over-inflated molehill.

Strangely enough, though it's most common in Guards(also called 'Heavy Badge Syndrome'), we've only had one Guard who had it. The others have all been more relaxed in the position, serious about the job but not overly authoritarian in the execution of their duties. Unfortunately we have an individual or two in the office who are afflicted at present, one in a fairly advanced state. It's very sad.

In the office variety of Barney Fyfe Syndrome(referred to here subsequently as BFS)it usually starts with one's immediate work area. They'll have something that's just for them, maybe a lamp or special chair. And from there, their radius of self-importance just expands(rather, inflates), gradually, until it covers the whole room. Before you know it, they're running the whole show--whether the show in question knows it itself or not.

The essence of any psychosis is the delusion, the fundamentally unsound notion that the person believes as truth. In this case the delusion is that they are a supervisor or manager when they are in fact just another worker. So the pathology at hand bends the organizational fabric a bit to include not only Office Manager and Supervisor(s)but Wannabe or "Virtual" Manager as well..

The first 3 stages of BFS(when it's most treatable)involve the flowering of the notion that they are really the most important and indispensible individual in their setting. As I said, it starts slowly, usually with personal items that say 'hey, I'm not just anybody here!' and then the idea that they're running the place, at least by virtue of their incredible work-which sets an example for others to follow.

In Stage 4 and 5 of BFS the delusions get further-out. The person is not only governing the office, but is making all the other workers aware of it telepathically. They don't report to the supervisor(s)or manager themselves but rather to a group of beings from Venus who are soon to take over the Earth and put this person in charge. Meetings are held periodically in a private office, where the Venusians appear as paper clips and date stampers.

At this point, of course it's a one-way-trip to the Fun House. Not a pretty picture. Hopefully with proper counselling BFS can be arrested before it progresses to this horrific conclusion. Thank you.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Crub Frush

Please disregard my previous blog. It's just me whining about how my life isn't perfect, about how the stuff on my plate doesn't look just like the menu. It is good to vent, albeit in a somewhat "whiny" manner, but something happened tonight which gave me some perspective.

For some years, I hosted a weekly Poker game here at chez Roundly, from 1996 to 2005. Nine of 'em. As far as players, had a fair amount of shifting over those years, but settled into a solid foursome over the last 2 or so. One of the players, a guy maybe a year younger than myself, has taken ill over the last 6 months or so and it's just getting worse. I happened to communicate with his sister this evening about his deteriorating condition, and it definitely woke me up.

Okay, maybe some aspects of my life aren't working out just as I'd like them to. At least I still have a shot at making those things happen. And even if they still don't happen, maybe something else will that's just as cool. At least I have a job I don't mind(well, except for Monday morning, and just those first couple hours)that pays me enough money to make it, and various friends and associates I enjoy. And my music's getting out there in the world, little by little.

Speaking of music, I've set out to write something for my Poker buddy. Not sure if it'll be a piece to play in the band or a solo guitar thing, but I do have a title, taken from some of the jocularity at the Poker table- a joke he used to make. It's called "Crub Frush", which is of course 'Engrish' for club flush.

Politically incorrect? You bet. I hate that shit. Well, actually I hate the punctiliousness of "political correctness", the tight-assed orderliness, though I do try not to hurt feelings(like Jonathan Swift, I often loathe mankind but love people).

I'm still undecided whether to tell him he has a tune coming. Half tempted to just let him find out about it--later. Might be a cooler surprise, after the fact- so to speak. Who knows?