“You’re so anal-retentive!”

As a Traffic Manger, I’ve often been described as, “anal-retentive.” I’ve always accepted this to simply mean that I’m “overly attentive to detail,” in a good way.

A quick on line search has revealed that being anal-retentive is far more.

According to Wikipedia, “The term anal-retentive (or anally retentive, anal retentive), commonly abbreviated to ‘anal,’ is used conversationally to describe a person with such attention to detail that the obsession becomes an annoyance to others, and can be carried out to the detriment of the anal-retentive person.”

The American Heritage Dictionary defines the phenomenon as a, “Psychology indicating personality traits, such as meticulousness, avarice, and obstinacy, originating in habits, attitudes, or values associated with infantile pleasure in retention of feces.”

Let’s break these definitions down, shall we?

“… the obsession becomes an annoyance to others…”

So, you’re bothered that I know the exact due date for the project AND the quantity we’ll be printing, without looking at my notes?

“… to the detriment of the anal-retentive person…”

Alright, I’ll give you this one. The night does get long when I can’t sleep until all overdue Tasks have either been moved forward or the reason for their being late thoroughly documented. E-mail In box… empty; Sent folder… empty. Time to sleep.

“… meticulousness, avarice, and obstinacy…”

Project timelines are meticulously organized and monitored; nearly revered. Obstinacy, however, isn’t something I associate with being an anal-retentive Traffic Manager -– inflexibility and un-cooperativeness aren’t options.

“… originating in habits, attitudes, or values…”

Yes, everything on my desk is intentionally placed and dusted frequently. But, I bet if you lay a job jacket on the corner I can find it two minutes later.

“… infantile pleasure in retention of feces…”

I’m not going near this one.

So, all in all, I suppose I am a bit anal-retentive. I just wish the descriptor were a bit more appealing. Thanks, Sigmund Freud.

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