Wednesday, November 23, 2005

3,120 days until retirement

“If I could just finish my sentence without interruption here” The babble of voices stops and my coworker, JF favors me with a look that could blight cement.
She says, icily, “Well it might just be the same as the end of the sentence I was trying to finish.
“Fine. Good. Finish. Just so long as only one of us is talking at a time.” There is a short pause, everyone glares at me and the babble escalates in volume. Well. That helped.

We’re fried, and not sunny-side up, my coworkers and me. It’s a staff meeting we don’t have time for, to discuss a project we don’t have time for and it calls for us to Imagine Big. A wish list for the new fund - raising guy. We start with practical things but soon KC would like a boat. I want an indoor garden. Then we decide the garden could be IN the boat. To hell with digital imaging and computer portals and student study areas. The meeting is seriously breaking down.

We know what our chances are of getting so much as a new doorstop (approximately nil), and the tension of trying to cope with an incoming, highly complicated new computer system, write useable manuals for it, alongside the effort to just keep the hell up with daily work, is making us crazy. I suggest buying gin and drinking it out of tea cups in the office.

Enrollment at the college is double what it was when I came there, the number of services we try to provide has quadrupled, and there hasn’t been an increase in permanent staff since 1970. The only reason the place functions at all is that we four are like sisters. We know our jobs and some of everyone else’s too.

Like 90% of the working world, on a good day, we cope. Like 90% of sisters, we bicker now and then.

JF is trying to talk again and is drowned out. I am just as guilty as everyone else of participating in the pandemonium but I started this, so...

JF IS TRYING TO SAY SOMETHING,” I announce. She begins again, and we all start talking.

Our boss reaches over to her desk and grabs a large glue stick. She hands it to JF and JF makes another try. This time, when she’s interrupted, she waves the glue stick fiercely in the air and raises her voice. “I have the talking stick!”

After we stop laughing, we shut up and let her finish. Then someone else reaches for the stick, and she is allowed to talk. And we pass it along this way for the rest of the meeting. Taking turns, giggling as we pass the glue stick, but respecting the sudden power of the mighty office supply.

My boss has her moments of genius.