Tuesday Night Tunes – Everybody’s talking at me…

Been a long day. Turns out listening is hard work and some people really don’t want to do it. In honor of that thought here is the song that came to mind.

Another iconic clip of communication is here.

I am feeling a little like Cool Hand Luke today. I am reminded of a time when I had that song running through my head once before. It was about 1990 and I was working at Ford Motor Company in Detroit. Back then I was programming computers and industrial controllers and that day it wasn’t going well. It was a Saturday and I was working on a bug where two of the controllers were supposed to be talking to each other and they weren’t. It had to be fixed and this was the day to do it.

I presumed it was a wiring problem and not a software problem but we really didn’t know for sure. Now understand, it was a simple bit of wiring. In fact, it was 3 wires. The two boxes were about 50 feet apart and there was this blue cable running between them that had 3 wires total. 3.

I was used to troubleshooting stuff like this and figured I would have it done in about 20 minutes. Oh, it was not to be. I spent about 4 hours. I disconnected, tested, reconnected and checked for grounds, shorts and anything else I could think of. After each test I loaded up the software, set the communication parameters and watched frustrated as it timed out again and again. I even ran a new cable between the two boxes. Still no joy.

Finally I called the onsite tech guy. That was a little like quitting if you know what I mean. I had failed to fix it and I had to call the guy that was there to help. I hate quitting.

He showed up and loaded up the communication parameters and hit ‘enter’. In about 10 seconds the two boxes were talking and I was now really frustrated. “What did you do?” I said (maybe a little louder than I intended) and he showed me on the screen what he did.

Turns out there were two set up screens and the one I was using did not work. It looked like it worked, it looked EXACTLY like the one he used but his worked and mine didn’t. I put everything back together, closed the panels and went on to the next task wishing I had that 4 hours of my life back.

Funny thing I remember about this time is at about hour 3 or so I was singing that song as I walked back and forth between the two boxes, running new wires, testing and running more wires. Everybody’s talking at me… I still hear that tune in my head when things like that happen. I heard it today too.

When I find I am getting frustrated in trying to communicate it is usually because someone is not listening. Sometimes it’s me and sometimes it’s not.

Do you know what the opposite of talking is?

It’s waiting to talk. Listening is something very different.

Thanks for listening,
Jerry Robertson
678-231-1578 Cell