Etiquette School is in session! > "I'm afraid that won't be possible."

Not enough time... Waterlight's Spine Story #4


*polishes her Spine of Not-Quite-Steel to a high shine*

I generally like my job, and the people I work with, and am sad to be facing a layoff due to my nonprofit agency's permanent closure at the end of this month, but that doesn't mean I haven't had to deal with some pretty dingdangity frustrating people in the past five years!

It seems that J., a manager I mentioned in passing in one of my earlier Spine Stories, has put me on her poo list... because I've said no to her latest less-than-reasonable request!

She sent me an email earlier this afternoon with "If you find extra time this month" in the subject line.  The request was for translation of a 15-page document into Lavenderese--and since I couldn't edit the document in the format sent to me, I would have had to retype the entire document from scratch as well as translate. 

If we had more time, I would have given it some thought--but we only have about 3 weeks left before we close down, and my days have been taken up with answering inquiries from staff about more pressing stuff like continuing medical/dental coverage, 403(b) withdrawals and rollovers, and unemployment benefits.  I also will be taking a few days' vacation time, which I would otherwise lose because I've accrued too much without using it.  My last week at work will be taken up with packing up my office and making arrangements for storage of records.

So here was my response to J.:

Hi J.,

If this were a smaller project—and I didn’t have to retype the whole thing—I would say yes.  But I will be on vacation later this month and it won’t be possible for me to finish all 15 pages before I leave.  Maybe if you could let me know what the most critical parts of this to translate are... I could do only the most critical 3-4 pages in the limited time we have left before I go on vacation.

She complained that she had gone through our list of translators and interpreters and asked them to do the project for her... and to a man (or woman), they'd all told her no.  (I suspect THEY found her request about as reasonable under the circumstances as I did  ;)  People do tend to underestimate the amount of time needed for a translation project of this size and scope.  A project like this--given my other responsibilities and the current situation--would end up taking me about two weeks, done a couple of pages here, a couple of pages there when I had time.)

She told me verbally, "Oh, if you can only do part of it, don't worry about it then," in a VERY hacked-off, PA tone, before leaving for the day.

I do feel bad about not being able to do this project--but this manager has a history of making less-than-reasonable requests, and in particular asking me to do projects for her that take up MUCH more time than she's led me to believe.  (One other incident that comes to mind immediately is a subject for a whole 'nother Spine Story!)  The sad thing is, I get the sense that she's basically a good person, but has no idea how these requests come across to others.

It sounds like J has been more than used to getting her way for so long that she doesn't even think about reasonable turnaround time for big projects. But lack of preparation on her part does not constitute an emergency on your part. It sounds like you're getting your own things done like you need to, and congrats on the shiny new Polite Spine!


--- Quote from: cwm on June 05, 2013, 10:13:41 AM ---It sounds like J has been more than used to getting her way for so long that she doesn't even think about reasonable turnaround time for big projects. But lack of preparation on her part does not constitute an emergency on your part.

--- End quote ---

POD, POD, POD, and PODinfinite to that!  I had considered posting another J. incident in a separate Spine Story thread, but I think to get the full effect of what it's like to deal with her at her worst, I'll keep all the J. posts in THIS thread.  She really does need a name like some of the other "ongoing saga" characters here--and I'm open to suggestions  ;)

Here is the story of a project gone on far too long:

I agreed to help J. with a data-entry project a few years ago, since our teachers weren't trained in the system yet and this data entry had to get done no later than a certain date. But what I'd been led to believe would only be a few minutes here and there for a couple of weeks in January turned into two or three hours a day through the end of that school year.  The teachers had been misinformed (hmmm, I wonder by whom?  ::) ) that I would provide them with tech support for the new database.  TBH, I didn't know that much more about the database than they did--and I was falling behind on projects that needed to get done in my own department because J. wasn't taking responsibility to see that the teachers were being trained properly on the database.

The school year ended and I breathed a sigh of relief that THAT was all over... until I got an email from J. with a new account password for that database I'd grown to hate with the fire of a thousand suns.

I replied to that email:

Hi J. (or whatever "ongoing saga" name is suggested):

When I agreed to help you with Data Entry Project, I didn't realize it would be an ongoing expectation.  I was happy to help during the crunch time, but I can't continue to do it on a regular basis.  My boss has given me some major projects to do in my own department, so I need to make those my top priority.  She has instructed me to refer any inquiries on Database to you or your staff.  I'm sorry, but if you're looking for someone to help you with that this year, you'll have to make other arrangements.

She, of course, denied she'd ever expected me to help her with the database in the new school year.   ::)

I'm a web editor for a university, and we get so many side requests that our bosses have told us to say "You'll need to send that request through Boss X; she's the one who sets my schedule."


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