Earlier today, I had a conversation with the management of the building that I live in. I have been trying to get them to take care of a reoccurring problem that they insist on just putting a patch on to send me on my way. The problem is that the patch is an inadequate and temporary fix to what is now an annoyingly painful problem to have to address every few weeks.
The people who work in the management office of my building are doing what they are paid to do—absolve and even deflect responsibility while spending the least amount of money. They are the disposable pawns of accountability that the owner put in place to distance himself from having to deal with said problems. In reality, that’s the face of success; you get high enough on the totem pole that you can delegate people to be relay a false sense of care.
I could complain until my face turns blue but holding this type of entity responsible for their inadequacy is a long game. Trying to get someone to right a wrong is already hard enough and our culture has different expectations for a regular person. If your sister, son or friend does something, you want the truth. Possibly even a believable explanation and an action plan to prevent it from happening again. I can easily stand on my soapbox with my powerpoint presentation and perfectly organized print outs of what went wrong and force you to acknowledge it. Maybe even force you to do something.
But I cannot take that same energy to my local town hall along with my poster boards of grievances because they will probably just take down my name, then shoo me off the premises. We have created barriers between the little people and the avenue of change to prevent there from being any. These roadblocks exist to discourage you from actually fighting for things that help you.
These tactics are meant to keep us small and compliant. Regular people take these positions and are just trying to get home to their families. I get it—it’s just a part of life but in the end it puts everyone at a disadvantage.
The notion of being too big to fail is a real thing because it’s systemic. As long as thirty people exist between you and a person that can actually help you, you are probably in for a long journey of run arounds.
Accountability is not only a means of acknowledgment and correction, it is a symbol of respect. That’s the main focus when it is brought up among peers. Do you respect me or my complaint enough to deal with this problem without incident? For the issue in my building, the management likely sees me as a talking checkbook. Their only concern is whether or not that electronic check is processed on the first. I am their guarantee of a paycheck every two weeks so it’s in there best interest to run me in circles until I give up.
I thought about all the times I was seeking action from acknowledgment. In some instances holding someone or something accountable gave me peace of mind or improved my life in someway. In others, it made more sense to just let it go. The question remains, should you allow yourself to go away quietly? It depends on the scope of the issue. Sometimes it makes sense to let the principle outweigh the stakes. There is integrity in fighting for yourself and what you know is right, even if it means you will lose. Accountability matters and in a few cases it only takes one person to champion change.