Saturday, February 17, 2007

What’s Got My Knickers In a Twist

As I alluded to previously, I’ve been a little stressed lately. The reasons are pretty boring, but just so that everyone knows it’s not you, it’s me, this is what has had me staying awake nights:
  • I have a new boss. I do not yet know if he will be a bad boss or a good one, but he’s new. I do know that he’s more focused on “the bottom line” than the prior boss, and this could work against me, because much of what I do—teach and mentor—is not accurately reflected on the bottom line.
  • My new boss likes to have 7 am meetings.
  • So far there have been two 7 am meetings at which my presence was requested. I was 20 minutes late to BOTH of them.
  • My assistant is out on maternity leave, right in the middle of a HUGE project, and her replacement is astonishingly helpless. Examples:
    • She does not know how to revise a Word document. I couldn’t figure out how she kept introducing new errors into documents I was giving her to correct until it dawned on me that she was retyping them.
    • She does not know how to find a “sent” email. She sent me an email announcing that there was a room change for a meeting. She did not tell anyone else about this room change. When someone asked where they were supposed to be, she asked me to send her the email she had sent me.
    • She does not know how to page anyone. If you dial the numbers for her, she does not even know that you should stay by the phone to wait for the call back.
  • And on and on. I am spending most of my time doing her job these days. This is not an exaggeration.

  • When I was expecting a rejuvenating couple of days last weekend, my in-laws showed up with—surprise!—my sister-in-law and her infant and her two-year-old in tow. Eight people, three of them under age three, in 1300 square feet, with one shower. Then the grandparents ditched everyone and went shoe shopping for hours. Somehow I spent most of my weekend babysitting the four-month-old.
  • Tuesday I broke out in an itchy rash from my neck to my ankles. It turned out to be a systemic reaction to an antibacterial ointment, but I spent a terrified couple of days thinking it was one of my antidepressants. (It was bacitracin, by the way, and about 30% of people who use it for any length of time can become allergic. Interesting fact: bacitracin got its name because it was originally isolated from a bacteria grown from a wound from a girl named Tracy.)
There’s more, but you get the gist. Some of it’s better already (this weekend is much more relaxing, and the rash is almost gone) and some of it will be better very soon (my assistant returns in two weeks), but if someone in cold-weather running gear runs past you in the next couple weeks muttering “Serenity Now,” it’s probably me.


Anonymous said...

I love your blog and am sorry that things are stressful these days. And am glad that they are looking up.

Sam said...

I'm still giggling at the inability to find a sent email. Especially with my fruitless job hunt, the fact that she can get a job while missing much of her brain puzzles me immensely.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry about it all, especially the funky period. I never know if I should count those in my reproductive history, considering I knew what they were even though I didn't POAS. Jill

Orange said...

I had a terrible dermatologist who gave me bum guidance about which method of mole removal would be best (without regard for those spots being places where muscles move things around and make them take FOREVER to heal if you shave off a mole rather than excising and stitching), and didn't advise me that I might well end up allergic to both Band-Aids and topical antibiotics if I followed her wound-care instructions until the wounds healed, which was roughly FOREVER. So I minimize my use of Band-Aids and Neosporin-type stuff. And I have a couple lovely scars, too.

7 am? Ouch. I slept past 11 today, despite Ben trying repeatedly to rouse me.

Anonymous said...

Ay yi yi. The 7 a.m. meetings would be enough to send me over the edge. The rest of it? Yikes.

Hope this week is better. And your boss turns out to be OK.

Anonymous said...

Ha! It sounds like your new assistant never mastered the concept of "object permanence."

And your in-laws haven't mastered the concept of "common politeness."

Hope things are looking up for you.

Anonymous said...

"Interesting fact: bacitracin got its name because it was originally isolated from a bacteria grown from a wound from a girl named Tracy." oh, yuck!! Sorry I am laughing as I think there are some things I'd rather not know!!

I am also very stressed, taking Zelitrex, yuck!! Hope yours lifts quickly!

Sharon Bartlett said...

Loved your comments about your temp. assistant. I AM an assistant, and my bosses (academics) never fail to remind me how much I'm missed when they have to get a "temp." I guess, though I believe I'm in a job that's way below what my intelligence could afford me, it's good to know that I'm GOOD at what I do - and valued for it.
(at 58 years old, I'm not about to start a new career; I'd rather spend my time being "NANA.")

Erika said...

Where on earth do those assistants come from?

The new Dean here--who came from UNC--has a priority of improving the development of women in leadership in medicine, and recognizes that part of that means improving climate for women with young families. I heard him speak about this a month or 2 ago, and one of his top examples was those 7 am meetings. Case in point--his wife--a noted researcher in her own right--has a 7 am dept meeting. He has a 7 am presentation for the Board of Regents. Someone needs to make sure that their middle-school daughter gets out of bed and off to school. Guess who gets the prize? But that of course means that a female voice won't be heard at her mtg.

While there are real-world, practical reasons for 7 am meetings, there are also real world implications for those times. I wonder if anyone will ever come up with answers...

Magpie said...

I love the bacitracin tidbit. Thanks. I hope things calm down soon!

Anonymous said...

Erika - I enjoyed your comment. I love to hear stories of bosses who "get it". My husband's boss complained when he showed up at a 5:30 reception (to honor high school scholarship winners) with our well-behaved kids in tow. I was in a client meeting that wouldn't end until 6 - what, pray tell, were we supposed to do with our kids? We're pretty sure my husband's career at his company has been penalized for my taking a full-time job - I'm supposed to do 99% of the childcare so he can be available 24/7. (I'm sorry - this turned into a slightly off-topic rant.)

DoctorMama, I was going to ask if your temporary assistant was in her seventies, since it sounds like she's never even heard of the concept of a word processor - but then that would be an insult to both Nanarocksween and my own MIL, who is 81 and quite computer literate.

Hillz said...

I used to work with a guy who tried to convince us that his father in law had invented bleach. His proof was that the brand name "Janola" was a mix of his two daughters names - Janet and Nola.

As for incompetent replacements... tell me about it! we have one at the moment who spends the entire day pretty much asking us to do her job for her

XE said...

Wow - what kind of training do you need to be an assistant? She sounds terrible. I'm quite certain that I could do a much better job, and I haven't taken a course or anything.
Hope everything returns to a calmer state soon.

Sharon Bartlett said...


Thanks for not insulting me
The academics I work for are pretty much computer illiterate(they use them like typewriters with this amazing! email capability). Ask them to use a common blog instead of emailing back and forth about meetings, ideas, etc. and all I get is a blank stare.
And they don't sport Ween Boognish tattoos above their ankles either.
Hee hee.

Hey, I'm an old MN gal. Raised in Stillwater. (In Florida since '84.) But maybe that midwestern schooling explains the desire to keep learning.

songbird36 said...

Gah! There is nothing worse than a bad assistant except the 7am meetings. Fire that temp! Serenity now, insanity later! I hope things get better for you soon.

E. said...

7 AM meetings. That's criminal. I think 8 AM meetings suck, but I accept that they have a right to exist. At 7 AM, I should still be in my pajamas, if not in my actual bed.

Sara said...

Oh, as a former temp, to tell the stories of temp workers! I once got to a place where they wouldn't let me print labels, because the previous temp had peeled them off before running them through the printer and gotten the gears all sticky and broken. There should be a "bad temp stories" blog.