It's not always easy to know what other people think of me. Some people think I'm clever, others think I'm annoying, and nearly one of you is willing to have sex with me. As far as I know, however, no one thinks I'm a complete idiot. Except one guy. Let's call him Brian.
Brian and I work for the same company and he's been a technical resource for me on a few projects over the last couple years. I've never met him in person, but we've chatted on the phone dozens of times and exchanged many emails. He seems like a heck of a nice guy and he does good work.
For some inexplicable reason, however, I always make really stupid mistakes every time I work with him. These are the types of mistakes that I RARELY make, but when I'm teamed with Brian, I make them almost every time. For example, I routinely leave out some crucial step when I'm following his instructions. Then, we get to spend an hour figuring out why my computer is broken while I sheepishly apologize in advance, in anticipation of him finding my stupid error. It's time well-spent.
One time, I had two windows open, one accessing a computer that my team owned and another accessing a computer that his teamed owned. I was moving a bunch of files around and cleaning things up, occasionally using one of the most dangerous commands in Unix, 'rm -rf'. This command basically deletes all the files it can find without popping up any of those pesky warnings. Using this command is like saying, "Trust me, Unix, I know what I'm doing here."
Naturally I was typing in the wrong window when I did this, and I blew away hundreds of Brian's files. Whoops! That sure was a fun phone call. Brian, however, was understanding and gracious about my error.
On my most recent project, I needed some information from Brian's team, so he assigned an engineer to be my contact. Of course, I failed to note when the engineer was going on vacation and I missed my opportunity to pick his brain. I emailed Brian on Friday, asking for a new contact, and he replied that he'd be my contact.
Poor guy. I can't imagine the expression on his face when he realized that he'd have to work with me again.. Actually, I can imagine the expression, but I prefer not to keep such images of pain in my mind. As usual, he was outwardly pleasant and calm.
He kicked off our effort by suggesting that we open up a WebEx session. This is a website that allows one person to watch another person's compuer desktop remotely. We often use it when two people who work in different offices need to collaborate on a task, or for demonstrations. In this case we were using it so that Brian could watch every keystroke I made and ensure that I didn't pull a "Mike" on him.
As it turns out, my remarkable ability to screw up Brian's stuff exceeds his ability to police me over a semi-slow Net connection. I slipped an error past his watchful eye and then later we spent some quality time debugging my environment.
I am unable to determine why my usual computer competence fails me each time I work with Brian. His communication style is probably better than most engineers' and he's a fairly pleasant guy.
Pablo's theory is that I have some sort of man-crush on Brian and that I get all nervous and lovestruck each time we chat. I'm hoping that's not the case because that would be kind of.... well.... gay. I can't even imagine how much effort it would take to replace all my porn bookmarks with gay ones. I simply don't have time for that sort of sexuality switch. Besides, I've never even seen a picture of Brian, nor is his voice particularly sexy, so I doubt Pablo's theory.
So, I'm stuck with having one guy who thinks I'm a half-wit. Nah, probably more of a femto-wit. Unfortunately, since he's good friends with my boss's boss, it's unlikely that I can somehow get him fired.