Rank and File

Realizing that I’m as much a sucker for this as anyone else, I do think our society is addicted to evaluation. Every thought, product, or activity has to have a number, star, or tomato. And what’s worse is that everybody wants the highest number, or the most stars, or the freshest tomatoes–usually just for doing what’s required. 

“I followed all the directions,” they say. “I’m the cutie!” I blame this–well, I can blame it on many things–but mostly I blame it on a particular species of HR. We’ve all had the mechanics/servers/house painters who ask us to fill out a performance survey. And then, with a certain desperation in their eyes, they say, “Please. Give me all As. They call me in if I get Bs.” It doesn’t matter if they just changed my oil, or fed me a taco, or touched up my shutters with a dollop of “Sensible Hue.” I have to clap, and Yelp, and put up all my thumbs. Dearies, this becomes a problem when you’re a supervisor, or an editor, or a teacher. How do you distinguish between competence and perfection? Where do you put the suggestions for improvement? And when that day comes when somebody gives you, say, the Platonic taco, what do you do then? Do you give them an A+?

(Originally posted April 28, 2015)

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