Putting the Monday in Mundane

Plumbing-Meeting RM v1

You can’t say “mundane” without saying “Monday” first, unless you’re just being a smart-Alec and deliberately mispronouncing it.

The two words are so similar sounding that I wonder if they didn’t start out as the same word but then diverged over time .  I could Google it, but I’m overcome with mundanity.  Which is just a fancy way of saying I’m lazy.

Before I go any further, here is the link to tonight’s background music.  It is David Sanborn’s The Dream.  I love me some David Sanborn while I write.  It helps chase away the mundaneness.

As the title of this blog implies, today was Monday, and it was also mundane.  You might say, “I had a bad case of the mundanes.”   (Sorry, that was an obscure “Office Space” reference.)

Where was I?

Today was a day full of PowerPoint slides and Excel spreadsheets.  I started out my career with a degree in engineering and spent decades designing some marvelous, highly technical, and extremely complex products, but somehow I’ve managed to find myself in a job where I only refer obliquely to engineering in PowerPoints and spreadsheets and hallway conversations.  It is the equivalent of a plumber being called out to a house where there is geyser in the upstairs bathroom due to a burst pipe.  But, instead of doing any actual plumbing, he presents to the homeowners a slide deck proposing a statement of work and presenting a preliminary plan of execution.  There is a slide outlining a list of potential risks to cost and schedule, as well as any cost avoidance opportunities that may be realized.  There is a slide mapping needed skills to available staff.  A high-level, time-phased budget is presented with material milestones.  There are several slides covering  any applicable building and plumbing codes, as well as an environmental impact assessment.    There are slides covering legal and contract considerations.  There is a mandatory safety slide.  Then there are some boilerplate slides on ethics, diversity, and team-building.  Finally, the plumber stands up and tells the homeowners they have 30 days to review the provided materials and to make formal comments through the plumber’s change management software and to accept the terms and conditions, whereupon formal negotiations on cost and schedule can begin.

I don’t understand how all of this managed to happen to a once-enjoyable career.

But I do now understand why modern office buildings don’t have windows that open.





  1. My dad was an industrial engineer for Maytag way, way back in the day. It would have been bad enough living between labor and management as an integral part of his job, but the system changed during his years there: enough so that I remember him talking about it — but only post-retirement. One of his problems was that he was smart as a whip and well-liked, but he only had a high school diploma. In 1946, when he joined the company, that wasn’t a problem. By the time he gave it up, it was.

    I spent a lot of time thinking about this post yesterday while I was at work. One of the things that became clear (for about the umpteenth time) is that I made a wise decision to trade a 401K and a good pension plan for the pleasures of running my own business. I’m not even close to financially secure, and I can’t retire, but I don’t have an ulcer, and I still love going to work.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Linda!

      I greatly sympathized with your father’s situation. I’ve observed that requirement creep into the engineering and technical fields for the past 35 years. I’ve watched it force some very capable people out of jobs they were quite good at. In fact, some of the best engineers I’ve had the honor of working with did not have engineering degrees. They learned everything they knew the hard way … and the way that provides the best teaching.

      I never understood the requirement to have a degree in order to be an engineer. With a few exceptions, some of the dumbest, most ding-battiest people I’ve ever met in my life had master’s degrees in engineering. Or, God help us … a PhD. I practically refuse to work with PhD engineers. For one thing, they are generally insufferably pedantic, and arrogant to boot. And two, they very often have no practical skills, but instead are filled with theories and ideas that may be great for doctoral theses, but are of not much use in the real world. Again, there are exceptions, and it isn’t my wish to start a flame war … but that has been my experience.

      Also, I greatly admire you for making your own way in the world and doing what you love. I have had that fantasy for … well … for about 35 years now. Unfortunately, I just never could seem to muster up the courage to do it. A comfortable retirement isn’t everything, especially if you didn’t particularly enjoy the thing you retired FROM. I think it is more important to be happy doing what you do, regardless of if it provides a pension or not. So, as I said, I greatly admire you for doing what you love!


    • Thanks, Corporate!

      I know just enough plumbing to be dangerous, but I love trying to imagine what other professions would be like if they had to put up with all of the bureaucratic nonsense I have to deal with on a daily basis.


  2. Yep. Ruin a good engineer by promotion. Hope is always that you will bring sanity to management, the development process and production. I haven’t yet seen that algorithm in 30 years. But ultimately, if you take care of your engineers, they will take care of you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, NotDonner! And you’re right; it’s an age-old problem. I think ever since I joined the management insane asylum, I’ve been changed by the inmates more than the other way around. I am often astounded at the end of the day when I look back on my work day, at the things that seem normal to me now, that would have seemed absurd in my younger days. But I do try to take care of my team to the best of my abilities!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. That was well described. The last sentence says it all. My father was a Mech Eng, loved the work, the people he had to deal with? Let’s just say your love for your craft may not be enough to sustain you sometimes. Of course, he had zero people skills which may have hastened his early retirement…

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Wilt! Glad you enjoyed it. I find it sad when people who enjoy what they do quite frequently end up getting promoted (or pushed) out of the job they enjoy.

      And you’re quite right. Engineers typically do not have very good people skills. I didn’t either when I was younger, but I developed them over time as an act of self preservation. Unfortunately, those same skills led me away from engineering and into management. Damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

      Thanks for commenting and for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

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