Tough love training


I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted.  No worries. Everything has been (mostly) fine.  I just decided to step away for a while from constantly narrating my life to trying to live it and be more present for it.   But, I’ve missed writing and I’m missed my blog buddies.  So, here I am.

The method behind her madness finally showed itself late this afternoon. It was the end of the second day of training for this new system I had to learn for work, and Carmen and I were discussing,  using all the application-based jargon and concepts, how this was going to be implemented at my medical center

“See!  See!” she said with some glee. “Did you think earlier today that you’d understand this so well?”

“Well, frankly no”, I deadpanned, “but I had formulated a dandy plot to kill you.”  Despite my kidding, my extreme annoyance was still plainly evident with what I had considered to be the most painful training I had ever attended.


The company I work for is no stranger to developing really obtuse  in-house computer applications. I’ve been on the designing end of some of those systems, as well as having to train others how to use them.   Training or supporting a difficult system is never fun. I always felt a little bad when an application wasn’t very intuitive, and I tried desperately to make it up to my user community by being very supportive and available for their questions.

Carmen, apparently, holds a very different view.  At its kindest, you might call it tough love.  At its worse, you could call it torture.

When the training first began yesterday morning, I felt some sympathy for Carmen.  An appealing young woman with a charming Southern accent, Carmen had recently taken on the role of trainer for the application.  You could tell she really wanted for us to understand the concepts behind the system and had formulated this rather elaborate analogy using different colored cars making food deliveries to different neighborhoods.  There was a lot of talk about apple pies and chocolate cakes.   She almost made it sound like fun. Or at  the very least, delicious.

Yet when it came time to put our hands on the application and do some of the exercises, that’s when it all started to go so very wrong.   She told us what she expected us to accomplish and said it was all in the training manual.  My colleague and I looked at each other blankly.  While we had learned how to deliver chocolate cakes, we had no clue how to actually operate the application. Carmen’s bubbly demeanor turned cold and brusque when we tried to clarify the assignment. “You have a training manual. It’s all there.”

Normally, I’m a fast learner. Always have been.  A big part of my identity is that I’m relatively smart and can grasp things quickly.  When that idea of myself gets challenged, I get can get pretty cranky.  And when my polite attempt at clarification gets rebuffed or ignored, I get downright pissed. My displeasure was expressed in my muttered expletives, as well as giving a rather brutal review of the training session to Carmen’s project manager.  I believe the word “clusterfuck” was used more than once.

But, as the two days wore on (and on and on), some of the concepts did become clearer, and assignments were completed with less strum und dang. Despite system glitches and a workflow that completely lacked any intuitiveness, progress was made.    With one more full day of training, we might be able to go back to our medical center and start tackling it.

I don’t know whether Carmen was simply covering her ass for some clear gaps in her knowledge and  training methods, but she explained that letting us swing in the wind was all part of her grand scheme for us to understand the application.  She seemed genuinely pleased with herself. Me, I just wanted to have a slice of chocolate cake and call it a day.


5 responses »

  1. how can anyone cawl it a day without a slice of chocolate cake ? btw aint “we” sposed to be clearin out the waste in the system ? sound like sum more just got squeezed in there. eye say we put Jobs and Gates in a locked room until they figure this shit out so there’s just one app that werx for everything.

  2. Hey LB – Limited computer time (and a period of profound grief) has kept me away from here these last few months so it has been good reading up, catching up on your latest posts. Your writing always knocks me out. I’ll try to get back more often. Take Good Care Of You (TGCOY).

  3. Oh dear, I recognise this type of training. And it ignites my wrath faster than just about anything else. I’d probably have turned the air blue with expletives and consumed enough cake to turn me into a blimp just to survive it. I sympathise.

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