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Thread: Lifelong Government Bureacrats -- or -- meet Stan

  1. #1

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    Lifelong Government Bureacrats -- or -- meet Stan

    I put this one up on the "random thoughts" thread, someone suggested it could be it's own thread. Here goes....


    We'll call him Stan. He started in the Department at some point during the second Nixon administration. He's been in the same cublicle since they remodelled the office back in '86. His computer is awkwardly wedged in on his desk among stacks of papers that were there ten years before the computer was. He comes in late and leaves early, goes on "walks" for hours at a time in the middle of the day. He goes through his days asleep, even while walking and talking, for he turned it off mentally at some point in the mid-'90s and now shows up so he can collect his retirement pension in a few years. He contributes nothing to the day-to-day operations of the organization, which is a shame, since he's been there longer than almost anyone else, and has been there through all the ups and downs, the passing fads and "latest things" through the years. He could contribute, but he doesn't really care. He has forgotten why he signed up for this job decades ago.

    God, I hope I don't end up like him 30 years from now.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian boilerplater's avatar
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    I used to work with with "Stan" and his apathetic kin. That is one reason I left a nice, cushy government job with lots of vacation and sick time. I was afraid of ending up like him.
    Adrift in a sea of beige

  3. #3
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    I sometimes feel I'm starting the journey down the road to Stan-dom. After seeing so many of one's ideas, efforts, and suggestions be ignored or even go down in flames (and it doens't seem to matter where you work - this always seems to happen), it's difficult not to get more than a little cynical about the value of ones contributions.
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  4. #4
    Stan sounds like he was "ridden hard and put up wet" to quote an old western phrase. I go through "Stan" moments from time to time. But my public sector job is anything but routine and there's usually something new coming along to get me excited and help me snap out of it. Plus, there's always Cyburbia
    Je suis Charlie

  5. #5
    Cyburbian iamme's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by gerblunk
    I put this one up on the "random thoughts" thread, someone suggested it could be it's own thread. Here goes....


    We'll call him Stan. He started in the Department at some point during the second Nixon administration. He's been in the same cublicle since they remodelled the office back in '86. His computer is awkwardly wedged in on his desk among stacks of papers that were there ten years before the computer was. He comes in late and leaves early, goes on "walks" for hours at a time in the middle of the day. He goes through his days asleep, even while walking and talking, for he turned it off mentally at some point in the mid-'90s and now shows up so he can collect his retirement pension in a few years. He contributes nothing to the day-to-day operations of the organization, which is a shame, since he's been there longer than almost anyone else, and has been there through all the ups and downs, the passing fads and "latest things" through the years. He could contribute, but he doesn't really care. He has forgotten why he signed up for this job decades ago.

    God, I hope I don't end up like him 30 years from now.
    Engage him, try to use his experience even if he won't use it himself.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Plus Whose Yur Planner's avatar
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    I can also have my "Stan" moments. I've been in P&Z 16 1/2 years now, and the battle scars start to accumulate after awhile. It can be especially bad after having yet another shouting match with a member of the public whom I'm trying to help. I try to keep it in perspective and have a personal life after work. The problem with the Stans are that work become their life.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    Hello my name is donk and I am a planner in the public sector who is a Stan.

    Realistically, I could do my job if I was labomized. Actually might make it easier to do. How many reports on garage size variances, surplus farm dwelling severances and mundane land division do you have to do before you have enough?

    One of the issues with "Stans" is their ability to do things from memeory and wrote, might not be the easiest person to engage or learn from. I had one in my last job who could look at a final plan and in 30 seconds know if every legal requirement was met, ask her if it was a good design and good planning no clue.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally posted by Maister
    I sometimes feel I'm starting the journey down the road to Stan-dom. After seeing so many of one's ideas, efforts, and suggestions be ignored or even go down in flames (and it doens't seem to matter where you work - this always seems to happen), it's difficult not to get more than a little cynical about the value of ones contributions.
    That's the trap I really wanted to avoid. You see the same issues, and the same responses by the same people without respect or regard for your input, and you can insulate yourself and focus on being comfortable in your job.

    It doesn't have to be that way, but it quickly can.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian
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    Well if Stan is a slacker... we're all Stan's!
    Wait a minute... is there a hidden A around there... is it Satan?
    People like that are everywhere in all countries...though I have the impression they're more abundant in federal countries with larger government offices; specially federal latin american countries, like Mexico, Brazil and Argentina.

  10. #10

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    Does anyone believe that it's more or less likely to find "Stans" in larger organizations, or conversely, that it's more or less likely to find him in a small municipality or organization?

    That is, are there certain traits of large vs. small organizations that allow/encourage Stan to be Stan, or will there always be a certain number of Stans, irrespective of the kind of organization?

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Plus JNA's avatar
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    Off-topic:
    Maybe "STAN" could be the secret password to get into the APA National San Francisco Laefest.
    Oddball
    Why don't you knock it off with them negative waves?
    Why don't you dig how beautiful it is out here?
    Why don't you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?
    From Kelly's Heroes (1970)


    Are you sure you're not hurt ?
    No. Just some parts wake up faster than others.
    Broke parts take a little longer, though.
    From Electric Horseman (1979)

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Plus Whose Yur Planner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by gerblunk
    Does anyone believe that it's more or less likely to find "Stans" in larger organizations, or conversely, that it's more or less likely to find him in a small municipality or organization?

    That is, are there certain traits of large vs. small organizations that allow/encourage Stan to be Stan, or will there always be a certain number of Stans, irrespective of the kind of organization?
    I think Stans can happen anywhere, no matter the size of the organization. It's easier to do it a larger organization because you can disappear. But it can also happen in smaller organizations in the support staff. However, it is harder to be a Stan the higher up the food chain you are. If you deadheading in the assistant director, executive directors positions, a regime change will take care of it.

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally posted by Whose Yur Planner
    I think Stans can happen anywhere, no matter the size of the organization. It's easier to do it a larger organization because you can disappear. But it can also happen in smaller organizations in the support staff. However, it is harder to be a Stan the higher up the food chain you are. If you deadheading in the assistant director, executive directors positions, a regime change will take care of it.
    I saw Stans in big city planning departments, and I saw Stans in suburban CD departments.

    I interned at a fairly well-known suburb of Chicago while in grad school. The "Stan" there routinely came to the office about 9:30, read his newspaper at his desk until 11:00, and then shuffled papers until 12:00 lunch time. He came back to the office about 1:45, shuffled papers until 3:00, and then took a break to smoke his pipe. He would come back about 3:30, and shuffle papers again until 4:30.

    The sad thing was, he was an excellent planner and exceptionally bright man who just decided to check out. I learned a lot in planning -- good and bad -- from him.

  14. #14

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    I'll confess to a but of Stan-ness in the sense that-look at my post count, for God's sake. Plus, the job requires a lot of energetic utopianism that is somewhat difficult to maintain. Still, I try to remain optimistic.

  15. #15
    Zoning Lord Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Stan works in my office...at least for now. Perhaps not much longer. We're too small of a group for this hanger-on to stick around and suck up our oxygen.

  16. #16

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    Meet "Stan."


  17. #17
    Cyburbian Trail Nazi's avatar
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    I have worked with a number of Stans. They really can pull the morale down in an office. I am trying not to notice them anymore and just let them be because that is all they want. I don't have the patience to engage in any conversations with them because they tend to be angry about something.

  18. #18
    Cyburbian Plus Zoning Goddess's avatar
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    I've worked with a bunch of Stans over the years. They tend to get shuffled laterally around departments since nobody wants them, but there is no good evidence to fire them.

    When you start feeling like a Stan (what would be the female version of a Stan?) it's time to move on.

  19. #19

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    How come Stan (or Stella?) doesn't care anymore? You can tell that he's smart, and once contributed a lot to the organization. But he shut it off. Is it because he's burned out? Tired of getting yelled at by members of the public, elected officials, etc? Frustrated that much of what he tried to accomplish never came to pass?

    When I think of Stan I think of my teachers in elementary school. Generally they fell within two categories: those that had passion for the work and really cared, and those for whom teaching was just a job. I wonder: did they once have the passion and lose it over time, or were they always passionless about teaching and just looking for a paycheck. If the latter is the case, I wonder if this describes Stan as well. On the flip side, if Stan was a dynamo once, why did he lose the fire in the belly? What does this mean for the rest of us?

  20. #20
    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    ^-- It's gonna happen to you all! Me too.

    I suspect it happens in the private sector too, except that Stan would have gotten laid off before he really got to that point in order to keep him from maxing his pension.

    As to why it happens... I think it's mostly the bull**** people have to put up with. I can't imagine 30 years of office bull****. Combined with what donk said: job becomes rote after enough years, you end up with a recipie for Stan. All work is for him is showing up and avoiding as much bull**** as possible by avoiding being at his desk until it's time to go home.

  21. #21
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    ok.....

    I'm trying to avoid being a Stan......I like to be active and valued, but when those two things are taken away, either by a boss or work system.....then look out My response has been to just go get another job that keeps my interest.......I now believe that if your not the boss or at least high up, the scenery doesn't change that much and your ability to keep "moving" professionally diminishes.......not to mention that no matter how good a planner you may be.....your ideas may never see the light of day because of politics or some micro managing City Manager......
    Skilled Adoxographer
    I have two emotions....Silence and Rage

  22. #22

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    Quote Originally posted by gerblunk
    How come Stan (or Stella?) doesn't care anymore? You can tell that he's smart, and once contributed a lot to the organization. But he shut it off. Is it because he's burned out? Tired of getting yelled at by members of the public, elected officials, etc?
    Some Stans just reach a point where they just want to become vested for the pension and then collect a check, but I think the biggest reason is...

    Frustrated that much of what he tried to accomplish never came to pass?
    Bingo.

    The Stans I knew had great ideas that were never implemented because the political powers-that-be wouldn't let it happen. Others have made a career of warning people about the fallout of bad planning decisions, and stay around to say "told you so."

  23. #23
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    Would I have a Stan?

    Someone who has rented a cabin in a nearby mountain town for the week. But was seen lurking around the office yesterday busy at work. Also, told the Z Man a quiet "Have a good holiday!" yesterday while leaving, but is back at work today...

    I often see him working late at night (10:30 or so) when I am gathering my things after City Council or Planning Comm.

    I have also come in on Sunday to get something I left on my desk to see him working too.

    Silent most of the time, and is getting no overtime for this. Been in the same position since he started here 15 years ago. Doesn't mind that we have an older code...

    What do you think?
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

  24. #24
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by zmanPLAN
    Would I have a Stan?

    Someone who has rented a cabin in a nearby mountain town for the week. But was seen lurking around the office yesterday busy at work. Also, told the Z Man a quiet "Have a good holiday!" yesterday while leaving, but is back at work today...

    I often see him working late at night (10:30 or so) when I am gathering my things after City Council or Planning Comm.

    I have also come in on Sunday to get something I left on my desk to see him working too.

    Silent most of the time, and is getting no overtime for this. Been in the same position since he started here 15 years ago. Doesn't mind that we have an older code...

    What do you think?
    Working til 10:30 p.m. (without overtime) implies a level of devotion which is not very Stannish. A better guide for determining if he's exhibiting Stanesque behavior can be found here:
    http://www.cyburbia.org/forums/showt...highlight=stan
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  25. #25
    Cyburbian michiganplanner's avatar
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    well I just got done reading the Stan and Stan thread, changed my pants (wholly crap that was funny), and decided I better end my 35 min break and get back to work. When can we get some new installments of Stan and Stan?
    I'd be more apathetic if I weren't so lethargic.

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