When Single Mindedness Is Not Such An Asset


Long story to explain why I missed my flight (or rather got kicked out) to Minneapolis … it’s funny to me now :)

So, Sunday started normal enough … well, kind of, considering that I had to get up at 2:50 AM to make a 6:15 AM to MN.

Alarm went off, got up. While I showered my wife made me coffee and finished packing my bags. 3:15 AM in the car and en-route. Heavy Metal blasting on the car stereo and cruising at 80 MPH down to LAX. I was very much enjoying myself and looking forward to getting to Minneapolis to hang out with the team and get some stuff done (doable remotely but easier in person.) About 8 miles into it, the “check engine soon” light came on. WTF???? I stopped at Las Virgenes and checked the car … popped the hood, reved it, listened, smelled it … all seemed OK!! I figured some sensor got tripped and upon my return I would deal with it. After all, the car is 5 years old and we never had any issues with it. My thought were that it just needed an extended service. I got back on the freeway and for a while listened to the motor … after a while all seemed normal so I put tunes back on and carried back on at 80 MPH.

As I got off the freeway at Century and I heard a screeching noise. The slower I went the louder it got. At 40 MPH it would disappear, also below 5 MPH. But the sound was unbearably loud so I got concerned. I managed to get to the parking lot. Parked. Got my bags. Got on my way to the check-in. All the while I was thinking about the fact that this needs to be taken care of ASAP. That my wife has no keys to the car. That we live in the boonies. And it is 4:10 AM and do not want to wake my wife – who had a bad night dealing with the dogs and a sick daughter. And this is when I got single minded about the problem. All my brain cycles were engaged in dealing with the problem at hand, very much as I deal with any issue of more than normal importance or weight – normal importance does not even move a hair for me, but you go just a bit over normal and I just hyper focus. What can I say, being obsessive has some draw backs.

I made it to the counter and to the attendant. Gave him my ID and he started to babble something about charging me for two carry-ons, to which I reply: “here is my credit card, fucking charge me whatever the fuck you want, my car blew up and I need to deal with the before I take off”. The attendant reply: “No need to use that tone” … well … add gallons of gasoline to a bone fire :(

Me: “are you fucking kidding me … just charge me”
Him: “sir … I will have my supervisor deal with you”

Add more fuel would you. Now, remember my dear reader, my mind is focused on the car and how to get it to my mechanic in Thousan Oaks, from LAX, plus, I have the only keys to the car, etc.

I think that for the next part of this story I would summarize, but let just say that the supervisor determined I was “too” angry to fly (????) I told him that I just needed to get off his “fucking” face so I can find a quite place to deal with my car predicament. He decided to kick me off the flight!!

In all honesty, I would have dealt with me differently, in a more customer centric form .. for example, I would have asked if there was anything I could have done since the customer explained he had an issue and was definitely overly excited … maybe after I got  the actual concern, volunteer to hold the keys, etc. No … this freaking guy threatened to call the Police … to which I “double dog dared you” ( + many expletives added.) Obviously no Police was harm in the making of this “lovely” story.

I demanded a refund, which is in process.

Now that I was left to deal with the problem my “humor” totally changed. Called my wife … poor lady … she is awesome … apparently she had no sleep because of issues with the dog, my daughter, etc. She answered the phone and immediately got dressed to come assist me. I decided that the best course of action was to tow the car back home, to Thousan Oaks. Still she stood at the ready.

Called AAA – very calmly I may add (well … I was not dealing full on with the problem with ZERO distractions.) Tow truck showed up less that 30 minutes later. Car towed to the house. Wife waited with more coffee. In the way I discussed the incident with the truck driver, who was not only very articulate but very cordial, well mannered, efficient. I wish I could hire him; he just went about his business very professionally and with a high degree of focus. It took him 5 minutes to get my car on a flat bed truck. He was floored with the lack of customer centric focus I was treated.  When I got home, he unhooked me in 3 minutes, shook my hand and was on his way. Regarding the car, we will take it tomorrow to our mechanic.

In retrospective, I have always been very single minded when it comes to problem solving. I could be solving 20 different problems at the same time and juggling all of them while providing direction and support to people around me, but I can not be doing anything else outside of problem solving. In 99% of the cases, this is an asset. I hyper focus and get stuff done easier, faster and better. And manage to get people around me to operate in the same fashion. But that just takes 100% of my brain. Dealing with anything else is a non-strarter. My wife and kids know this very well. Two times I can not be disturbed or interrupted: (1) when I am focusing on a problem(s) (2) when I am taking a nap (I do love my naps :) )

Then there is a 1% of cases that being hyper focused and have a complete lack of patience is not such an asset – the second being KEY to the first. Today falls in the 1%, but such is the “nature of the beast.”

When I told my kids what happened …

My daughter: “man, you are a piece of work, and your rock.”

My son shook his head and said:

“And you complain about me being obsessive? But cool!!!”

I did explain to them that while I do not regret the course of action I took, I also did not accomplished what I wanted 100% and now I created a new problem for me to solve – rather than “relaxing” on a (uncomfortable) plane sit watching a movie!! They need to be more measured on their hyper-focus. They are after all, my children, and they both exhibit my same obsessiveness when it comes to solving problems.

I have plenty of stories like this where being focus is cornerstone to it. Stories such as coming back from my honey moon to deal with a release, or from vacation – and almost missing my daughter’s birthday – because a DB issue that force me to spend 3 days at the data center; or helping customers, or turning around projects or companies, dealing with massive DDOS’, or dealing with an avalanche and a rock slide, or kayaking during a Chubasco, or hanging off the side of EL Cap in Yosemite, etc. All very dramatic but none as stupid as today’s

I hope you enjoyed the reading. Have a great Sunday!! I am going back to sleep!!

2 Comments

Filed under General

2 responses to “When Single Mindedness Is Not Such An Asset

  1. It is healthy to tell stories about yourself. I would say this one supports your thesis that you are obsessively single-minded and focused. Ability to multi-task? Not so much.

  2. Jimmy

    That’s bullshit, dude. These clowns running our airline industry have us by the short ones and they KNOW it and often abuse it with poor customer service and downright rudeness… Although, the major percentage of my disdain is directed to the TSA and not necessarily the airlines but there was one flight attendant on my recent flight to NC who was kinda snotty towards me. Take care Brotha!

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