Dear members of our board of trustees,

Five thoughts about our relationship

-I know it may feel like it, but I don’t actually report to you.  I have a boss, and she has a boss and he reports to you.  If you think I should be making a phone call, or wearing a different suit…take it up with one of them.

-Just because you are rich does not mean that you are smart.  Sure it may mean that you are smart and that is how you became rich but it may also mean that you married someone rich or came out of the birth canal of someone rich or someone who married someone rich.  This wealth does not make you an expert on everything.

-You may be retired with not a care in the world and all the time you want to spend your money but I have a full time job.  This means I can not meet you for meetings hours away from work in the middle of the work day and still DO MY JOB.

-Speaking of my job…believe it or not, I might know a little something about it.  While I appreciate your helpful suggestions, thoughtful advice and ideas that I will be forced to implement and explain while you sit in your chair and pen a check, how about you give me a little credit and assume I might know something about the work I do?

-You may ask me a lot of questions and I may be forced to give you a lot of answers but my age will not now, nor ever be one of them.  I don’t care when you were born, you should not care when I was.  Got it? 

Sincerely, your humble servant.

After I posted some picture of my office last week, I had some questions about what the heck it is that I do.  I work at a museum and for the most part my job is fairly basic and boring.  Here are five of my job functions and some examples. 

1) I set up and organize committee meetings, which can be quite challenging.  For example: This morning I get an e-mail from my boss.  “you need to take so-and-so off your committee list, he resigned from board to take a post with the new administration”.  Of course he did.  Some people will go to great lenghts to avoid committee work.

2) I do basic problem solving and trouble shooting.  For example: Yesterday I walk down to get a cup of coffee and the first floor of our building is FREEZING.  I have a conversation that goes something like this.

me: Why is it so cold down here?

co-worker: we are measuring all the open doors

me: ok, I’ll bite…why are we measuring all the open doors?

co-worker: some paintings are being returned from loan, and one of them is too big to fit through any of the doors.  So, we have to measure them and all the windows to try to figure out how to get it back inside.

me: If we got the painting out of the door, shouldn’t we be able to get it back in the door? 

co-worker:  One would think…

3) I set up tours and special visits. For example:Last week I get a phone call from the VFW who wants to set up a visit.  Assuming it is a local organization that wants to set up a tour I send the message over to my assistant.  Three minuets later she comes rushing into my office to tell me this is not a local chapter but the head of the entire organization.  Apparently the woman in charge of all lady veterans of foreign wars wants to come and visit.  And apparently this woman travels with a 25 person entourage.  Yup, 25 people to ensure the health, safety and happiness of a chick who is not related to the first family.

4) I do some basic business travel.  For example: This time next week I will be leaving for a 10 day trip…..to Hawaii.  

chinaman_s_hat__oahu__hawaii

5) In interact with our visitors and objects.  For example:  I actually get to play with those harpoons. 

I know , I know, you are still pissed about the free trip to Hawaii.  What can I say?  I have the best job ever.

After describing where I work to a blogger friend the other day, she mentioned that she had trouble picturing it.  So, with the help of my lovely iphone, here are some snap shots of my office and some of the things in it.

new-image

My* Gumby mug.  This was taken in between my first and second cup of coffee.

books1

On of my book cases.  I have not read all the books in this case but I have read enough of them to answer questions, make suggestions and carry on a general conversation about them.  We call this ‘skimming’.  It is not smart.

harpoon

Two of my harpoons.  Ok, they are not actually my harpoons but they belong to my teaching collection.  I have never once used them to impale anyone…although I may have thought about it.  Actually, death by harpoon would make a great episode of Law & Order.

pres

My magazine cut out of all the presidents being held up my one of the worst magnets I have ever laid eyes on.  I have no idea how it showed up on my file cabinet but I did not purchase it on my trip to Alaska.  Honest.

view

The morning sun coming up over the harbor as viewed from my office.  It could be way worse than this.

* technically, the Gumby mug belongs to D.  But, D does not drink coffee and leaving a mug like that in our cabinets is just a waste.

Management 101

February 26, 2009

After reading this post by Erin yesterday and hearing this story on NPR this morning, I started thinking about all the dumb things management likes to say at staff meetings or board meeting or just to you when you are alone in your office desperately trying to get work done.  Here are five of my favorite, with their real life translations.

1) “We need to manage expectations” –  What they mean: I want you to make sure no one expects us to actually succeed at this or even do a decent job.

2) “Lets evaluate the stakeholders”- What they mean: Who is going to flip their lid and think they actually have a say in the matter when we make this change?

3) “It is time for some strategic abandonment”- What they mean: Lets quit some stuff with out looking like we are quitting.

4) “I am going to have this run up through your department”- What they mean: You do all the work, I will show up in time to take the credit

5) “Look for the low-hanging fruit”- What they mean:  As anyone from my last place of employment can tell you…they mean do the stuff that is easy right away so that you can spend months in meetings talking over and never actually doing the stuff that is hard.

I think I am totally ready to run an organization.

Seriously in need of a nap

January 28, 2009

I am tired.

-I am tired of facilitators that can’t actually facilitate.

-I am tired of being talked over by every old white man sitting around a conference table

-I am tired of having my thoughts or ideas discredited because I am lacking white hair or outdoor pluming.

-I am tired of the whole room turning to me in unison whenever it becomes apparent someone will need to take meeting notes.

-I am tired of being called honey, sweetheart or dear by people I am not living with, drinking with or related to. 

Quite frankly, I am absolutely exhausted.

A Wonderful Weekend

July 13, 2008

This weekend my three college girl friends and I got together for a little girls weekend. For various reasons, we are only able to all get together about three times a year. which makes it even more special. Here are my five favorite things about the weekend.

1) The laughter -the easy joking, banter and giggles that come from years of friendship.

2) The updates- filling everyone in on what has been going on in our lives in great detail. Asking, and actually caring, about each others spouses, partners, in-laws, out-laws, family and friends.

3) The tears- It has been a tough year for all of us. We have changed jobs, changed addresses, made difficult decisions, ended and begun relationships and dealt with family members in pain. When we look back on what we have been through, and speak about how we have been there for each other, the tears fall easily. Not the emotional outburst that comes from a break up or an argument, but the slow release of emotion that comes like a sigh of relief when you are with people you truly love and trust.

4) The routine- No matter how long we are apart, as soon as we get together, we fall into the same comfortable routine. The same jokes are funny, the same symptoms cause concern, the same wallets are lost, keys are forgotten and we are all running around trying on clothes and asking opinions before we rip off any tags. I don’t know how I buy anything with out these women telling me it looks ok.

5) The confession- For the first time, this weekend I told my friends about my blog. I was not intending to keep it from them, but I think I wanted to give myself time to figure out what I wanted to write about before I started sharing it with some of the most important people in my life. When I first came out and said it, my only hope was that they would not laugh at me. True to form, my girlfriends love and support blew me away. They laughed with me and cried with me as I read some of my favorite posts and when it was all over, they said the one thing I had never dared to hope for. They told me they were proud of me, and they loved hearing what I had to say.

Working 9 to 5

July 10, 2008

It has been over a week since my bloggy friend La Petite Bella asked, so I thought I would tell you five things about my new job.

1) It is in a pretty active city. In my first week I have been able to locate a great taqueria, a Thai restaurant and a good, albeit greasy, Chinese restaurant. If I can just find sushi, Indian and some sort of buffet… I will be in lunch time heaven.

2) In addition to some really good food, the city houses one of the most beautiful post offices I have ever seen. I know this may seem mundane to most, but there is something about the crisp while marble, polished filigree brass and tall Grecian columns that fill old municipal buildings that I adore. I have visited the post office almost every day since I began, taking note to buy a stamp or two so they do not think I staking the place out for some sort of heist.

3) The building I am working in houses some pretty major and very valuable artifacts, so the security is quite serious. This means that in order for me to go from my office to the nearest restroom, I need to pass through not one, not two, but THREE, ID access security check points. If you do not swipe your magic badge the door does not stay locked (that would be WAY too easy). Rather, it opens and that starts an alarm that sounds like a cross between a fire engine and a dying hyena. I have set off at least one alarm almost every day since my arrival. Today, my VP kindly sat me down and said that while she understands there is a difficult learning curve, I am starting to upset the visitors.

4) Because of the change in size from my last museum (smaller) and the change in my title (bigger), in my new position I am spending a lot more time with upper management. I am starting to discover that perhaps, there was a reason why I did not have as much ‘face time’ with VP’s and presidents at my last museum as I, apparently, turn into a bumbling idiot. Yesterday, I heard myself joking with our CEO about the difference between the two paint colors peach melba and orange chiffon. If as you are reading this you are thinking ” wow, that’s not at all funny”. its because IT’S NOT FUNNY! I could not tell if he gave me a courtesy laugh or was choking on paint fumes.

5) Due to the necessary security measures, on most days the museum shuts its doors at 5:00. That means that all employees must be on the outside of the doors by exactly 5:00. Meaning, on these days I have to start shutting down my computer and packing my bag around 4:45. Coming from a cooperate culture where the majority works past five, some well passed seven and a crazy few come back after dinner to get work done, leaving the office BEFORE 5:00 feels like spring break! I just have to make sure I remember to use my magic security badge on the way out.