I drove to work this morning trying to summon a positive mood. I actively thought about things that make me happy and things that I’m proud of about my life. Thankfully, there were a lot of things on that list. The music playing was good, and I turned up the volume. The sun was shining. There was no reason to feel unhappy or stressed out…at least for those thirty minutes in the car while I drove to the office. My mind was on my son, Luke, but I decided not to think about it for a while. There was no reason to dwell on that situation at the moment. I’m learning to let things rest, and that is a big accomplishment for me. I’m learning to compartmentalize the different parts of my day. I’m drawing on the positive times to carry me through the times that aren’t so positive.
Today I was a greeter at our local Rotary luncheon. I wasn’t looking forward to taking the time to go to Rotary, but like always, making time to go was of benefit to me. I had received an email over the weekend asking me if I would be a greeter this week, and I had agreed. What that meant was that I stood at the door and welcomed all the Rotarians and registered their guests. It was an easy job, but one that I wasn’t looking forward to doing. I didn’t feel like being “on.” I didn’t feel like smiling, shaking hands, and making small talk. What happened, though, surprised me. What happened when I stood there smiling and shaking hands was that people smiled and shook my hand in return. I had a few brief conversations, and I met a few new people. When I sat down during he meeting to have my lunch, I was at a table full of people that I hadn’t really known before. I had made new connections. I had interesting new conversations. I had stepped outside of my comfort zone and allowed new people to enter.
Rotary has become a very positive part of my life since making this move. I often refer to the weekly meetings as my “church.” We say the Pledge of Allegiance. We say a ecumenical prayer that is relevant to the events of the day. We recite the Rotary Four-Way Test:
- Is it the TRUTH?
- Is it FAIR to all concerned?
- Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS?
- Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?
We are reminded of “Service Before Self.” These are things that I can wrap my mind around. Who doesn’t need a weekly reminder of such basic truths to guide us through the rest of the week? As I walked out to my car after the meeting, I felt a sense of peace and contentment, and I wondered why I often feel too busy to take time away from the office for these meetings each week.
It didn’t take long for real life to intrude on the peace I felt after attending Rotary. I had a meeting to prepare for when I returned to the office. When I went to the copier to grab some papers, I saw something I hadn’t expected to see and certainly didn’t want to deal with right at that moment.
My administrative assistant has been trouble from the start. She possesses few of the basic skills necessary for a modern day office. She takes meeting notes in shorthand. She doesn’t know how to create an Excel spreadsheet. Her writing style is archaic. She is a problem that I have been saddled with from Day One, and there isn’t an easy solution. She is 68 years old. Our HR representative has expressed concerns about age discrimination if she were to be let go. Age isn’t the issue. I just want someone able to do the job.
I’m no spring chicken, so I do feel a great deal of concern for a person who simply has no desire to retire. I have asked her (tactfully and in a round about way) how long she plans on working, and she has assured me that she has “no intention of retiring until she’s carried out of there.” UGH! There is another problem, though. She attends to an extraordinary amount of personal business while she’s on the clock. She takes and makes personal phone calls. She surfs the internet. Yet if there is an early, or late, meeting she must attend, she takes comp time to the minute. Worst of all is the fact that she conducts business for another business while she is at work. She and her daughter run a cupcake business on the side. They cater parties, festivals, and special events. During her employee review, I addressed all of these concerns. Needless to say, the review process was painful. She was in tears, and I felt terrible. However, I had no choice but to address the problems head on. I let her know what was acceptable and what was not. I told her that some of her actions were cause for dismissal, but that I wanted to work with her to in order to correct the problems in order for her to keep her job. She said that she understood, and I thought I had seen some improvements.
Today I found a piece of paper on the copier that belonged to her. It was a blank order form for the cupcake business. She had been at it again. Not only had she been making copies for her business during work hours, but she was using the company’s copier for her own personal use. The company pays a monthly fee per copy. I know the fee for these copies may not amount to much, but in my eyes, this is stealing of both time and resources from the company.
The fact that this is cause for dismissal is clear. She has been warned. I have tried to work with her, and I have stated what is acceptable and what is not. She has chosen to break the rules. What bothers me most is what has been going on that I have NOT seen? Lies are like cockroaches. If you see one, there are fifty hiding in the shadows.
I haven’t confronted her yet. I have to cool off and think this through. I need to consult with my Executive Board. They are aware of the ongoing problems, and I’m sure they will call for her dismissal. I don’t dislike this woman. I feel sorry for her because of the trauma I know is coming her way. My heart feels sad.