Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Three, it's the magic number

First impressions can be entirely off. Second impressions are often just as bad. Third impressions, though? Let's think about this for a second.

My dad has always said that you need to listen to a song three times before you can tell if it's good or not. Of course, what he fails to mention is that there are songs that only require one listen to comprehend and appreciate. And alternatively, there are incredibly complex songs that you could listen to 100 times without fully understanding or liking. If you go by the three times rule, the most complex and fascinating songs may never see the light of day.

That's why, on this third day of internship work, I've started to think about my honest perceptions of the things that surround me at my job.

When I left my room in the morning, for the first time I felt confident about my drive. The three times rule is a sister clause of the "third time's the charm" phrase, which accurately portrays my perception of the commute from Orange County into the San Fernando Valley. I drove through regular streets with ease, onto freeways that I'd never ventured on before and into unfamiliar territory on this, the third day of my drive. I parked in a compact space in the employee parking structure and felt like I'd finally arrived.

Everything made sense because it was my third time. I think. Is that too presumptive?

Maybe so, and here's why:

I've had some trouble getting acquainted with the people that work in the media relations and photo departments at CBS. They're all kind and friendly people, but it can be difficult to settle into an already established groove in an office setting like this.

On the first day of interning, I was introduced to at least 20 people. Of them, I remembered about five names. I walked away from handshakes chanting the names in my head and creating various mnemonic devices, but nothing stuck.

The next day was when I finally remembered the name of the girl who I was actually becoming friends with. We met at our internship orientation and got to talking, latched onto one another and luckily worked in the same building. On the first day we ate lunch together, but I still had no idea what to call her. Luckily, three days later, the rule applies and everything is clear to me now (everything as in her name and clear as in memorized).

So three days are good for names. We can assume that the three times rule applies to basic concepts like that.

What the three times rule does not apply to is getting to know actual people.

The first day in the office, I had a bad feeling about several people working with me. We didn't seem to be able to communicate well, they didn't seem tolerant of my fresh eyes and lacking knowledge of their department, sometimes they looked like they want to poke my eyes out when I came to their door and asked if they need anything.

But sometimes the artifice of disdain turns into one of pleasantness. People in certain situations act differently from themselves in alternate situations.

By the third day, I've felt myself feeling more relaxed around the younger employees, protected by some of the other employees - including one who called me "little one" and another who likes to give me chocolate and cookies (I did not know that working in an office meant snacking constantly).

The opposite is true too.

One employee (as you might have noticed, I'm not sharing names. Vagueness keeps me out of trouble!) went from greeting me kindly and praising me one day to making me into her personal slave the next. I know there's a stereotype about interns having to do grunt work most of the time, but I didn't realize how true that could be.

Unlike their names, people themselves are unpredictable. You can't know whether someone you thought seemed nice the first day will continue to possess those characteristics you immaturely labeled them with upon shaking their hand. You also can't know if someone's coldness indicates their general demeanor or the fact that in the moment you first interacted with them they were busy or overwhelmed.

The thing about entering a new work environment is its all about adapting your perception to the situation. What you think of someone right off the bat could definitely be a reflection on their character. But it could also be hugely misrepresenting them.

At this point - with less than a week having passed - I'm still trying to give everyone the benefit of the doubt.

The only thing that doesn't deserve a second consideration is my drive. That's the one concept I've conquered, complexities and all. Yet even though three times may be the charm for a song or for the road, it doesn't apply to everything.

Maybe instead of a three times rule there should be a multiples of three times rule. Guess I'll have to check in again on Monday. But for now, goodnight. Sleep tight. Don't make any broad generalizations until you know all the facts and don't let the bed bugs bite either.

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