Back when I was a dedicated worker-bee with a naive belief that I could change a business culture without a blowtorch and serious body-armor, I managed to impress my boss enough that he decided to make me a Team leader.
Of course things are never simple, especially since my role at the time was in the support area of the company. In order not to confuse anyone who might mistake me for a senior staff member with the power to actually affect change, the powers-that-be decided that I should henceforth be referred to as the "Unit Leader." Politics, beautiful politics.
The whole thing was a bit of an embarrassment to me, and actually just added one more level of confusion to an already chaotic work environment.
As Unit Leader (and that's Unit, not UNIT, as in "United Nations Intelligence Taskforce"), I oversaw a group of about four or five technical writers. People, one would assume, who could spell.
While I may have still been clinging to some optimism about working change, I wasn't completely naive. I had already spent a few years in the Big Apple, where complaining is a form of entertainment, if not a full-blown sport. Good times, my friend, good times. Also, I was under no illusions about the pool of "talent" that my team possessed. In fact, in private conversation, I described my role as riding herd on the Thundering Dunderheads.
Not a particularly bright group, no Rhodes Scholars would be banging down their doors. And this brings me to the topic of today's post: AW.
In my frustration one day, it is possible that I was a tad too loud when I described my team, the Thundering Dunderheads, as a bunch of dumbasses. Sure, it wasn't terribly smart, and it was clearly unkind, but the truth is sometimes painful.
Roberto*, a member of said Dunderheads, apparently took offense at my poorly timed candor, and objected to being referred to as a dumbass. His head popped up over the ubiquitous cubicle wall and he defended his honor. "If I'm a dumbass, then you are an asshole!"
We spent the rest of the day lightheartedly continuing in this vein in the manner of two men humorously joshing each other, while silently believing we both were right.
So, we smiled our simian smiles and went about our business. I pretty much forgot all about it before I was out of the parking lot.
The next morning Roberto and I were meeting with a programmer. I was still a little hazy, as it was before noon, so I was a little nonplussed when Roberto kept referring to me as AW.
I would say something and he would respond, "Sure thing, AW."
Or, "I'll get right on it, AW."
Every time he said AW, a mischievous grin would flicker across his face. This went on for about 15 minutes as we continued to talk to the programmer.
Finally, I had heard "AW" enough and was growing tired of the strange looks the programmer gave me.
"Roberto, why do you keep calling me AW?"
I looked at the programmer who shrugged.
"AW?" I asked again.
"Yeah, you know -- A-W!" He dragged out the letters for emphasis.
A dim light flickered to life in my muffled brain. No, I was sure I was wrong. I mean I had to be, didn't I?
But I had to know. "AW? AW!? As in asshole AW?"
"Yeah," Roberto said, "AW."
I could barely keep from bursting into a hysterical hyena laugh. "Do you mean ass whole, as in Whole Ass?"
A confused and only slightly embarrassed look replaced Roberto's grin. "Huh?"
I nearly shouted it -- "You really are a dumbass!"