Readalism III – Fictional Male Loner Leads in Action/Crime Series

I started reading the first book in the Jack Reacher series by Lee Child last week. Written in 1997, it features what I can only describe as a “man’s man” protagonist – loner, strong, violent (only when needed, of course), keeping his feelings close to the chest, with few financial resources and average looks, but who still manages to get the hottest women. You know the type.

The story starts interestingly, but then there’s a hot girl and much violence. I have a low tolerance for violence where the author appears to try and top off others in shock value, but I can usually finish these stories when I can identify with the lead character in some way. Jack Reacher is unfortunately not that type of lead for me. I just kept seeing Jason Statham playing Terminator, but without the fun parts. (No need to remind me that Jack Reacher was played in the movies by Tom Cruise – shudders.)

It made me think of other male loner lead characters whose same genre stories I enjoyed much more. For example, the Hieronymus”Harry” Bosch character written by Michael Connelly. The series is set in Los Angeles and begins in 1992 against the backdrop of the Rodney King events. The aspects linked to police corruption anger me and,  having had to live through them, I am not a fan of the 90s, but I figure the author will eventually move to the millennium decade.  I am now reading Book 6 in the series. Amazon also began a TV series in 2014 featuring a favourite actor of mine, Titus Welliver, but I can’t quite figure out yet how to access it yet.

Lastly, but one I like most fondly as “loner guy” series go, offers you a fantasy and mystery  mix rather than pure crime is the Harry Dresden series by Jim Butcher. I’ve finished all 15 books and wait in anticipation for Peace Talks, the next in the series. Maybe I’m cheating here because Harry does accumulate close friends and allies as he rips through his encounters but he also makes a whole slew of enemies which makes him break even in my book. Having him played by Paul Blackthorne in the sadly short lived TV series did not hurt one bit either.

Our Work Environment Over the Years

My boss retired a few weeks ago. To take myself out of my day-to-day work routine and access different skills, I interviewed her and posted the texts on an internal blog.

She had started her career in the mid-80s and we moved to reflect on different work life changes over the years. Three things came up the most:

  1. our physical work environment;
  2. the work itself and
  3. our work relationships.

When you think about it, that covers pretty much everything.

She reflected on how, in her early career years, her co-workers were all in one building and we able to access meeting places (ex. the cafeteria) where they could exchange ideas or simply chat about a personal topic. I don’t know about you, but the last time I worked in an organisation with a corporate cafeteria was 2007 and even then, it was a rarity. She also mentioned that with her colleagues, she shared an open-space concept area where collaboration and learning were freely circulating.

I worked in an open-concept work environment for a bit a few years ago. The entire floor was open-concept and all the furniture was white. To me, an introvert, it felt like I was a monkey on display in an IKEA store. However, I really enjoyed interacting with my division colleague without any visual partition separating us, and whenever our discussions were becoming more sensitive, we would move to email and type out our conversation while keeping visual contact. It worked.

In my role as a manager however, I believe the environment was hindering employee-manager communication in a hard to overcome way as over a hundred individuals could easily see and hear our interaction (yes, this in spite of the “white noise” technology). This is perfectly fine for most work interactions but what if there’s a touchy opinion you want to share with your boss on the spur of the moment? Maybe if it’s of an utmost importance you will take the time to say “can we talk more about this in a private room?”, then move to secure a space through the online system, but how much of these interactions of what appears to be less importance get censored due to these constraints? How does that affect the work relationship and the business unit’s performance?

As well, in “selling” the open-office concept, our organisation’s management mentioned numerous times how it would move us into a new modern sphere where people could work from anywhere (ex. a coffee shop). Our business processes however, were still built around in-person services and face-to-face meetings making them really difficult to align with a virtual presence. This often meant that Directors living farther away would often work from home while the staff had to work on the premises, a situation that caused a number of conflicts.

She also discussed how, with her colleagues, she would work on projects where they would develop skills and competencies  as they worked (ex. developing websites in 2000) and how much fun it was. I haven’t worked in an environment where you were allowed to do this in a decade. Specialists are everywhere and when the expertise is not in-house, contractor resources are hired. In my field of work, you also never get hired for your potential, but solely based on your track record. (Unless you are a “friend”, of course, but that’s a post for another day. ;-))

I couldn’t help but feel that were are missing out on a lot of fun.

What are your thoughts?