The Friday Funny: Are YOU a problem thinker?

Here’s a social problem that afflicts many evaluators around the world, worth pondering as we head into the weekend …

Are YOU a problem thinker?

(original author unknown – and we’ve made a few adaptations for evaluators)

It started out innocently enough. I began to think at conferences and parties now and then to loosen up. Inevitably though, one thought led to another, and soon I was more than just a social thinker.

I began to think alone – “to relax,” I told myself – but I knew it wasn’t true. Thinking became more and more important to me, and finally I was thinking all the time.

I began to think on the job. I knew that thinking and employment don’t mix, but I couldn’t stop myself.

I began to avoid friends at lunchtime so I could read heavy-duty evaluation think pieces from Michael Scriven, Yvonna Lincoln, and Rodney Hopson. I would return to the office dizzied and confused, asking, “Has anyone ever really questioned the power structures in this organization?” and “What about the cost analysis, people?!”

Things weren’t going so great at home either. One evening I had turned off the TV and asked my wife about what values might be applied by St. Peter at the pearly gates when he evaluated applicants for entry into different afterlife accommodations. She spent that night at her mother’s.

I soon had a reputation as a heavy thinker. One day the boss called me in. He said, “Skippy, I like you, and it hurts me to say this, but your thinking has become a real problem. If you don’t stop thinking on the job, you’ll have to find another job.” This gave me a lot to think about.

I came home early after my conversation with the boss. “Honey,” I confessed, “I’ve been thinking…”

“I know you’ve been thinking,” she said, “and I want a divorce!”

“But Honey, surely it’s not that serious.”

“It is serious,” she said, lower lip aquiver. “You think as much as college professors, and college professors don’t make any money, so if you keep on thinking we won’t have any money!”

“That’s a faulty syllogism,” I said impatiently, and she began to cry. I’d had enough. “I’m going to the library,” I snarled as I stomped out the door.

I headed for the library, in the mood for some Saville Kushner, with an Eleanor Chelimsky keynote blaring on my ipod. I roared into the parking lot and ran up to the big glass doors… they didn’t open. The library was closed.

To this day, I believe that a Higher Power was looking out for me that night.

As I sank to the ground clawing at the unfeeling glass, whimpering for Bob Williams’ latest stuff on systems concepts or Doug Reeler’s three-fold theory of social change, a poster caught my eye. “Friend, is heavy thinking ruining your life?” it asked. You probably recognize that line. It comes from the standard Thinker’s Anonymous poster.

Which is why I am what I am today: a recovering thinker. I never miss a TA meeting. At each meeting we watch a non-educational video; last week it was “Porky’s.” Then we share experiences about how we avoided thinking since the last meeting.

I still have my job, and things are a lot better at home. Life just seemed… easier, somehow, as soon as I stopped thinking!

3 comments to The Friday Funny: Are YOU a problem thinker?

  • I’m laughing. Hits a little too close to home…

    A couple of weeks ago I went to my allergist. He asked me, on average, how much I drink each day. My reply was “Do you want the mean, media or mode? The median and mode are likely zero and the mean a nonzero number but less than 1 since I do drink, but only socially and then infrequently.”

    “What kind of job do you have?” he asked, after giving me ‘the look.’

    I’m trying to cut back on my thinking so I can explain my drinking to a lay audience.

  • Carolyn Sullins

    I believe that excessive thinking is related to another disorder I have that has destroyed several jobs and relationships: ADD. (Asskissing Deficit Disorder).

  • Michael Scriven

    I like the comments from Susan and Carolyn, and I have another along similar lines, that should be considered seriously by Jane and Patricia, namely, XWSG, a.k.a. excessive workshop giving. I used to suffer from this disease, and was only saved from fatal results by serious illness. Now that I have ‘recovered’ from both ailments, I can see why people say that “no-one ever recovers from XWSG”— you can never just give one workshop. One taste of it leads to another and then another…. Soon people start suggesting that you are neglecting your children in favour of workshopping, and no-one will talk to you at parties because you just go on and on about some workshoppy stuff. We may have to follow the example of some of our great great grandmums, and BAN ALL WORKSHOPS. It’s either that or ban all parties, though come to think of it, given the example of some Labor parties in the Oz-NeZ sector, that’s not such a bad idea. Or we could just ban all labor…. ah, there I go again, beginning to plan a workshop, or rather no-work-shop.