Books for Everyone!

The World of the Third Person

4 July 2019

If two is company, and three is a crowd, then existing in the world of the third person — as expressed verbally — creates an out-of-body experience.

I speak from experience.

During my years as an engineering technical writer-editor at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, I was assigned to create a submission for an engineering design award for the Parrotts Ferry Bridge at the New Melones Reservoir near Angels Camp, California.

As my boss handed me the technical information, he spoke in hushed tones of reverence, almost bowing as he told me the design architect was I. M. Pei and Associates. I did not know enough about civil engineering design bigwigs to recognize this name, but I would likely not have been impressed even if I had known it. Rarely do I feel in awe of a famous name.

I diligently prepared the submission (text, photos, cover drawings); I was then called to take part in a meeting with the Engineering Chief who was to review my work. The meeting took place in his office, with approximately 5 engineers going over my writing. The Engineering Chief sat at the head of a large, glass-covered shiny wooden table. He did not acknowledge me, or my work. Indeed, he spoke of me in the Third Person.

“Can she change this to . . . ?”

“Is she going to review this section?”

She will need to do such-and-such . . .”

I was seated, far off to the side of this table — no, I did not get a seat at this table! Silently, I stared at this rude Chief of Engineers. I had to almost physically bite my tongue to prevent myself from saying something I would not regret. Many a time I have been insulted to my face; many a time I have been insulted behind my back. Never had I been belittled in my presence by someone’s condescending use of the 3rd person singular to refer to me, sitting several feet away from him.

It is not often that I think of myself as a fictional character, but whenever I do, I prefer that it be through my choice, not through an affront by another person!

I still do not know what the problem was with this nasty corrupt little man; I did not bother to inquire about it. The meeting was eventually adjourned and I exited the meeting room. I informed my boss that henceforth I would not be attending any meetings where I am referred to in the 3rd person, by a man who refuses to acknowledge my existence, and who further insults me, and my fine work, by not even granting an opinion of its excellence. Then again, perhaps he was incapable of comprehending such professional achievement in arts and letters!

This design submittal was so treasured by the engineering brass at this agency that I had to personally drive the thing to Division Headquarters in San Francisco. Believe me, that city was a dirty dump even then, in the mid-1980s! I couldn’t wait to drive back to puny little Sacramento.

The Parrots Ferry Bridge Design Award submittal made a big splash in the engineering publications of its time; the bridge, however, did not win the prize. But I was told the package was superbly crafted and presented. I subsequently moved on to a new job, after having promoted myself to General of the Home.

Those minutes of justified indignation are recalled by me whenever I witness the attempts by incompetent and arrogant people to put down the very people whose work and expertise they need in order to succeed, or at least to not be found out as shysters being paid, overly paid, to shill for a company or for a profession or for an industry.

The talented and skilled technician is nearly always put into this ingratiating position of working in a job that is overseen by an empty suit or a stuffed shirt, worn by hired hacks. The work world in America did not always suffer such a hideous imbalance of labor power. Sure, there were the Brownshirts, always surreptitiously ratting out someone to get a leg up somewhere along the Organizational Chart. And there were the Brown-nosers, sucking up to a supervisor for brownie points. The Grandstander Blowhards are a fairly new phenomenon in the work world.

Those Braggarts, Windbags and Bull Artists used to work, isolated, behind-the-scenes. They puffed their hot air at their co-workers, not in public, and well outside of earshot of the Boss. The Boss didn’t want the loudmouths out there, on TV, embarrassingly calling attention to themselves. Nowadays, those swelled heads have become the Boss!

These odious traveling companions to the Lawyer Class are the mercenary "experts" who funnel techno-sounding, non-pure science graphs and charts and jargon to the world-wide-web and to the public purveyors of propaganda, once known as the News. Their highfalutin lingo is meant to intimidate the non-College population and even the College alumni of days of yore, those eras when professors were sages who knew subjects worth teaching and worth learning. Now that so many American universities have become paper mills, what is the pompous preaching by these Windbags worth?

In the late 19th century, Louis Pasteur perfected the truly novel idea of injecting dead viruses into a human body to immunize it against those diseases. He initially used chickens to inoculate them against cholera and then later applied this immunization method to treat cattle affected with anthrax. In both instances, he was free to experiment scientifically without the fear of lawsuits and a hostile media, fomenting that fear to produce those lawsuits.

Can you imagine such unfettered freedom going on today with the Lawyer Class in America? For an efficacious remedy, might I suggest injecting the lawyers first with the dead virus? Let’s see how many of those chickens line up at the trough of publicly funded research.

The smugness of those sniggering Non-Producers positioned the Doers and the Producers into the world of the 3rd person. Those functionaries and pontificating paper-pushers have deluded themselves for decades into believing they run things, be it a company or a country.

In America, the world of the 3rd person is rapidly becoming the universe of the 1st person. Too many Americans have had to come face-to-face with the residue of a very distasteful reality, the recent decades during which this nation was brazenly exploited by the Non-Producers. All of that loud fear-mongering is finally being exposed for what it is: arrogance, corruption, venality and cowardice.

Excellence is the newest thing to be rewarded. The bloviating Bosses will nonetheless continue to run off their motor-mouths. Let the swine squeal! Grammar rules:

“She” and “He” are now “I”, as in, I can, I do, and I will!