Monday, October 16, 2006

I love you, deux!

Back to that. Part deux in the saga of why I was a brainy math geek, but couldn't remember my locker combination...

When we left off I had garnered myself a "real" engineering job. One in which I couldn't just trot around in tight jeans and dig trenches while shooting the shit with other 20-somethings that were pretending to be scientists. This job was about making computer chips, and my position was in the plasma etch group. Yeah, fer real. I was in charge of several pieces of equipment that did bizarre things with strange gasses and were critical steps in making computer chips that made money for the company. The bottom line: my shit better work or I would be publicly ridiculed by our 4'10" cigarrette-stinkin Napolean engineering manager. And for the most part it did, but on occasion I would be called into his den to regale him with the finer points of SC1 clean vs an ozonated water single-wafer clean process, and being a good engineer I'd fill him in on the details. Details that were completely made up. Because I can't remember numbers for shit. But I was getting good at pretending and looking very confident, so Mr.Napolean relied on my "knowledge" in a critical and specific area of the process. I went home at night happy because Mr.Napolean was a dickhead, and I had gained a small position of power over him because I knew something he didn't know. Or more accurately, I didn't know something that he didn't know. And it happened again and again. My boss would ask me for the results of a test I'd done a thousand times, and I'd pretend to rattle of the results and call it good. A coworker would ask me what something or other specification was that I should know better than my phone number and I'd make up a number that seemed reasonable and call it good. I bluffed my way through meetings with heads of departments and angry bosses. I shimmied and jangled if I was asked directly for hard numbers. The longer I worked the better I pretended.

Now is where you're expecting the part of the story where I faked something and there was a disaster and the factory imploded and people died, right? Well, it'd be cliche, but far more interesting than reality. The reality was I kept getting promoted and nice raises. Which all gave me a false sense of confidence in my abilities as an engineer. I was a decent engineer, but if I learned anything at all in those six years, it was how to act like I knew what I was doing. I was the freakin Sir Lawrence Olivier of the clean room.

Many many years ago I was interviewed for a job right out of college and the idiot behind the enormous desk asked me, "So you went to such a fancy school, does that mean you think you're smarter than everyone else?" After a bried stunned silence, I put my eyeballs back in my head and said, "Well, no, but I do think I learn faster than other people. Put me in any situation and I will adapt very quickly." So now, when people assume that I'm brilliant because I was an engineer, I laugh and say, "No, not brilliant. But really good at pretending to be." I'm a fake, and proud of it.


Anonymous JMo said...

You never pretended to be brilliant - you just were! The people here who think they know something are the real fakers...

10/16/2006 3:35 PM  
Anonymous TB said...

I think we're all fakers to a great degree. My theory is no one really knows what they are doing all the time. Human beings are the only species on the planet who don't really have a purpose and a plan for getting things done.

10/16/2006 3:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A late congrats on your award: Yay you! Vive le you! That, and this post, is why I read you. Rock on wit your bad self.

10/16/2006 5:33 PM  
Blogger Lucia said...

I subscribe to the we're all fakers sometimes belief too. What a completely insecure idiot to ask if you think you're smarter than everyone else.

10/16/2006 5:56 PM  
Blogger Arabella said...

What an awful interview question! I think that you must be brilliant to fake it so well. And is it really "faking it" if your answers are accepted and everything turns out fine? Very interesting.

10/17/2006 5:25 AM  
Blogger mamalujo1 said...

Life's not fair. Women can fame it; men can't.

10/17/2006 6:31 AM  
Blogger meno said...

As we say in our house. "if you can fake sincerity, you've got it made".
That interview question highlights the bias against smartness that seems to exist in this society. How weird.

10/17/2006 1:58 PM  
Blogger Ortizzle said...

Why is it that the H.R. department of so many companies hires insecure slobs to suss out potential new employees? Your answer was far too polite, Mignon. I would have said something like "No, I don't think I'm smarter than everyone else, just marginally brightger than the person who is sitting across the desk from me." Which is why I probably never got a lot of good jobs, ha, ha. I learned all too late that faking it is the cardinal rule of getting ahead in the corporate world. And if you can eventually back up the b.s., you've really got it made. Good fer you!

10/17/2006 5:51 PM  
Anonymous wordgirl said...

You're only a fake if you say you're real and you're lying. It's like the guy in "Breakfast at Tiffany's" says. "She's a phony...but she's a REAL phony."

Or..something like that.

10/17/2006 7:13 PM  
Blogger DebbieDoesLife said...

I've been faking it for years. Faking that I know what I am doing, that I am confident, etc.

Not the big O though. Never fake that.

10/18/2006 1:07 AM  
Blogger Tink said...

If BSing could be a major, I'd have a Masters baby.

Faking things well is an art. It takes talent and brains. Which is kind of funny, since you have to fake because of something your brain LACKS.

10/20/2006 12:53 PM  
Blogger V-Grrrl said...

I flunked faking. I am always admitting what I don't know--and now I do it PUBLICLY on the Internet. See how stupid I am?

10/24/2006 12:47 AM  

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