June 13th, 2013

USAF

Need To Know


In 1992 I was stationed at the newly commissioned Joint Analysis Center in the United Kingdom. I was on a secure line, relaying classified information to a superior, when I turned to a co-worker and asked him to clarify a piece of information I didn't have immediate access to. Rather than recite the requested information, he asked me who I was talking to - he wanted to know who was on the phone.

The exchange of classified information doesn't work that way, and I explained he wasn't required to know who was on the phone if I was the one asking for the information. I was cleared, I already had access to the information, and I simply needed him to recite it for me.

It was a simple request. He refused until he knew who was on the other end of line.

And I haven't run across a scenario like that since. Until last week.

A coworker sent out an email to everyone with a ticket number he had opened. I made note of the server and deleted the email (for a technologies company we're given a woefully inadequate amount of online email storage). When the monitoring center contacted me the next day asking about the server, I recalled the information, but had not (obviously) committed the ticket number to memory. So when I asked the admin for the ticket number again, he naturally asked why.

Telling him why, however, started a philosophical conversation about why they were asking me for it - a conversation I wasn't prepared to get embroiled in - I was in the middle of numerous simultaneous tasks - he felt he had a need to know. And while I appreciated that, and readily agreed to have that conversation with him at a more appropriate time, I simply required the ticket number immediately.

It turned out to be too difficult a request.

Then I went all passive-aggressive on my boss, which is embarrassing only because I don't do passive-aggressive. Like, ever. When I apologized to him later I cited, "potential confluence of events" leading up to my communication. Still trying to figure out *why* I responded in a such a manner despite my frustration. I think it was simply reliving the 1992 event. Is that some serious baggage or what? Maybe its out of my system now forever!