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12:29 p.m. - October 07, 2005
It's One of THOSE Meetings, Isn't It?
Tuesday was a day just like any other day in the office. I had a few meetings, and I was thinking of ways to improve communication flow around the campus. I had a few ideas that I was turning around in my head, and then the phone rang, and it was for an inter-campus call (which is one long ring, instead of two short ones that signal and outside call).

Well, that is normally the Comptroller wanting me to research something with the online credit card engine, my database reporter with a problem in extracting information from our labyrinthine system (built by ancient monks, I believe) or one of the major gift officers having report problems, so I didn’t really think much of it.

It was the major gift secretary – who has an office 8 to 10 steps away from mine. (I just paced it off – it was an excuse to get some pretzel sticks and Nerds.)

“Diamond and FBI want to meet with you tomorrow at 11 in FBI’s office. Are you free?”

I checked my palm and said, “Sure!”

“OK.”

So a meeting was set – and it’s the type of meeting that causes me a bit of fear and loathing.

The short-notice meeting that someone ‘wants to see you in their office.’

I was fairly calm about this one. Heck, in fact I thought it may be a good thing. It probably wasn’t a bad thing, especially since it was scheduled for the next day.

But in the past, those kinds of meetings were nothing but bad news for me, for the most part.

Back when I worked in the real world, almost every time I was called into someone’s office, inevitably it was because:

• I had screwed up and was getting my butt chewed.
• Someone was leaving and I needed to pick up their responsibilities but I wasn’t going to lose any of my other responsibilities. (I was a ‘good team player’ so they knew I could do this no problem.)
• I had a major project that I needed to do, stat, toot sweet, ASAP, so I needed to drop everything else and do that.
• I was being re-assigned to another job/department/planet.

There have only been a couple of times prior to me working here at the College where one of those meetings turned into a positive. Once when the small company I was working for wanted to send me to get my MBA.

The other time was when my evil boss at the publishing company (Smarmy McDickweed) got his butt fired. As was typical there, I had only 4.6 seconds to eat lunch, so I was bringing back in my Taco Bell to eat at my desk, and I noticed the HR director in my boss’ office. The VP then shanghaied me before I had a chance to even sauce up my tacos. When he told me Smarmy was fired, I did a little happy dance internally, even though I knew that would be more work for me. But no longer would I be the henchman to someone that the entire company loathed and despised. I was free to have people loathe and despise me on my own accord.

A memorable short-notice closed-door meeting there took place after the company was sold, and there were major changes afoot. My job responsibility was reduced, and I had a major project I was working on (investigating UPS bill discrepancies amongst all of the distribution centers from 1996-1999. Now if that doesn’t trip your trigger I don’t know what will) but I was still getting the same salary (and I immediately started putting my resume out there). I had to report to the transportation manager. (That is so logical for someone who did the budgeting and financial stuff. A natural fit, right?)

He was used to hourly folks – you know – punch in and punch out. Well, my ‘official’ hours were 8 to 5, but often times I worked through lunch (grabbing Taco Bell or Steak and Shake to go), and none of my other bosses even flinched when I walked in at 8:05 or so, or left at 4:56, because I got my crap done and I WORKED THROUGH LUNCH.

He wanted me to be in my seat at 8. No exceptions. Because he may want to see me at 8 and I needed to be there. After that meeting, how many times did he meet with me right at 8?

None. Zero. Zip. Nada. The earliest meeting we had was at 8:30.

Of course, all that is better than being on the road back from a press check (on a Friday) and having one of your colleagues call you on your cell phone to say that half of the company got laid off and you have an 8:30 meeting with your boss on Monday. It was during that conversation that I ran a toll gate on I-294 around Chicago. (Dear Illinois, if you want your 55 cents, you know where to find me…)

So with all that in the past – I had a good 24 hours to speculate on what this meeting was about. In times like this, my mind can wander and ramble and roam. And how.

I thought these things:

• I’m going to get promoted.
• I’m getting an unexpected raise.
• There’s a big project coming that will take me 50 hours a day to complete.
• There’s going to be a reshuffling of assignments among the support staff.
• One of my employees was caught strangling a goat during work hours.
• I was caught strangling a goat during work hours. (Hey, it helps build up the muscles and stops you from getting carpal tunnel.)

Liz was all curious of course. Her experience with these kinds of meetings is similar to mine. More so, in fact, because she worked in a total “Office Space” type environment that was full of paperwork, status reports, ‘motivation’, and endless quarterly personnel reviews. Yee-haw.

Liz left the work force last year, and she’s still a bit skittish about me being the sole breadwinner. (She’s a bit skittish – sometimes I get all gnarly inside). So I knew there was no way that I could even talk out loud about any bad thing. Otherwise, I’d cause unnecessary panic about the house. And small children can sense panic, and they pick those times to pounce on you for innumerable requests for this, that and the other thing.

Of course, if you start thinking of bad things, then you think about how you are going to pay for this, that and the other the children want or need. That causes more panic, and they ask for more, and pretty soon you’ll have bought the entire line of Dora the Explorer toys (which now includes her cousin Diego, and Katie, of course, is watching that show as well. She already can sing the theme song. Sigh.)

Well, all of my rampant speculation was for naught. It was a meeting with three agenda items, and there were all good things in the long run, for the College, for me, and for my employees. I’m just glad to know I’m wanted and needed. THAT was clearly emphasized. Whew.

When I quit my last job to come work for the College, my soon-to-be old boss threw a shoe at me. (No fooling! She quit the company a few weeks later). I have a feeling that if I ever decide to leave, I probably will be pelted with all sorts of inanimate objects. That’s a good feeling to have, because when you get pelted, you want it to be out of respect. Otherwise, it’s just a pelting.

 

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