The Past Catches Up With Me… Day 200

It was bound to happen sooner or later.

Actually, it happened quite a while ago, but I didn’t find out about it until today.

I messed up—made a major mistake at work and naturally—inevitably—it had to do with money. Specifically it was an expense I knew was being incurred and verbally approved, without getting the details of how much and to whom. Dumb.

I think the Division Chair spending the money did tell me to whom the money would go, though I would not have recognized the name, and it is possible an amount was mentioned, though I have no recollection of that. But the entire matter should have been sent upwards for approval and was not. Naively, I supposed that a budget line allocation meant that the funds were under the control of the budget officer, as long as the amount disbursed remained below the limit of the officer’s signing authority. Wrong.

So today—too late to do anything about it—the whole affair hit the fan. Not fun.

My boss was understanding, which was much appreciated, but I’ve put him in a bad position with his boss. That situation has yet to fully develop, and I deeply regret my part in it. So now I am waiting for the other shoe to drop, as it were.

I suppose it is a good thing that I haven’t time to worry about this overmuch. In an attempt to get a grip on what needs to be done, and to facilitate the catch-up from my three-week absence after the knee replacement, I am working my way across the materials on my desk, putting together an exhaustive To-Do-List. I am nearing completion and beginning my third sheet on a narrow-ruled legal pad—one line per task.

I made the mistake of beginning to count how many things I had to do, but quit at seventy-four. Ridiculous number. It was probably a bad idea to quantify this, but it was not a bad idea to try to capture all that needs doing in a single list. I must see how I can group things so I feel more organized and can set some rational priorities.

I am afraid that important tasks may be getting lost amid the avalanche of smaller, more urgent matters.

It will come as no surprise to anyone that during the time taken so far to compile the list, I have also dealt with numerous small immediate issues and several larger problems of the urgent-and-important variety. My email has continued to fill with new demands, and the many items that go directly to my administrative assistant for my approval have continued to arrive.

I press on only because the need for structure has become paramount.

Today (Tomorrow arrived as I wrote), I will finish the list and find some way to group and prioritize my work. I say this in a strong, clear voice, hoping wildly that I am speaking the truth.

As the racing of my mind slows and fear begins to creep in, a powerful voice fills my mind…”There may come a day when we are swept to sea, when we drown beneath the rolling waves of the list and throw our hands up in despair. But it is not this day. An hour of pressing demands and student petitions when prudence crumbles and is swept away.  But it is not this day. This day we fight!”

Thank you, Aaragorn. I will.

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One Response to The Past Catches Up With Me… Day 200

  1. R B Gernant says:

    Ah…I haven’t made this mistake yet…but I too had my first awkward moment. I negotiated a contract, it was signed, sealed and delivered. Then after the fact one of the VP’s was asking for a detail that he considered critical and about which I had no idea. In the end, it wasn’t exactly my problem, but there is something humbling about having to tell one of your immediate superiors that you didn’t know and worse still didn’t realize it was that important.


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