All in a Sensibelchen’s Day’s Work

I’ve said it a few times before – I really love my job. And yesterday’s event was one of my favorites in the school year. Hummingbird Day. When all the parents come to see what their kids have been learning and doing and creating in displays and interactive stations set up all over the school. There is also usually a short show and a wonderful totally organic buffet. My contribution each year is the slideshow, i.e. pictures from the entire school year set to music. Following tradition, I finished it at 2:00 am the night before, leaving me about 5 hours to spare (read: “sleep”) before I had to go to school.

So I was a little tired and bleary-eyed yesterday and not thrilled by the news that there would be an extra meeting at the end of Hummingbird Day. It was about a recent problem with a bill for almost €1000 that had arrived in the mail. A series of subsequent discussions revealed that we had fallen prey to an email scam. Our point man for the EU project had filled out a form and mailed it off, thinking it was part of that process. The fine print, read only after the bill came, as well as a tiny bit of internet research (“Fraud alert!!”) made it clear that this had nothing to do with our project. Now we were supposed to pay some guy in Romania a thousand bucks to type our school’s name into a list of companies on his BS website. My first instinct was to simply ignore the bill, but I am not the decision maker in such situations. Hence, the meeting.

13 people were in attendance. One was a three-year old who was clearly not having any fun. To cut to the chase – we ended up writing a two-sentence letter telling this “company” why we were returning their invoice unpaid.

It took us two hours to achieve this. We were slowed down somewhat by the dredging up and rehashing of ancient misunderstandings and the necessity of each participant, in turn, having the chance to tell the group what inner turbulence he or she was experiencing. Another cycle of comments later had each person stating whether the situation was resolved on an emotional level in his/her eyes. This was followed by a 15 minute discussion of whether this situation would negatively impact our future cooperation with one another. Everyone insisted sincerely that no one was assigning blame to anyone. That, apparently, was important.

I spent the two hours alternately pining for my bed and being somewhat morbidly fascinated by this convoluted process of dealing with a single fraudulent bill. It all reminded me, once again, that I work with a whole lot of delicate-flower people (in German: “Sensibelchen”) and that my emotional detachment in such situations can make me to the school what the bull is to the china shop.

One half hour into the discussion, it first dawned on me that this might take a long time. I thought “If I pay the €1000, will you let me go home now?”  At half time, I calculated that with 12 adults in the room, we had cumulatively devoted 12 hours of our free time to this problem and that every five minutes, I could another hour to that total. (I like doing math problems in my head when I am bored.) Three hours later, I had started formulating reasons in my mind for why I had to leave, but was thwarted by the news that the letter we would eventually write had to be in English, so I would be needed. I started scratching the floor with a fingernail to pass the time, musing that, eventually, I would have a Shawshank Redemption style hole to escape through.

Then at hour 21, all of the sudden, a strategy was proposed! A consensus was reached. A laptop appeared! The two sentences were written! The letter was printed, signed, stuffed, sealed and addressed! Free at last!

Or . . . not quite. The moderator/chairman closed the meeting by expressing her feeling that there were still a few loose ends that worried her. She asked us all to reflect on what was said in those two hours and suggested we all meet again to share our thoughts after some time had passed.

I don’t know when this second meeting will take place, but I am pretty sure that I have a scheduling conflict.

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12 thoughts on “All in a Sensibelchen’s Day’s Work

  1. Sounds like the goal setting meetings I used to have to attend. There would always be an argument over vocabulary. Will the document say “should” or “would.” Or maybe “must” or “required to.” Mind baffling. Thank God they always had chocolate.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Chocolate is important. I always bring chocolate to our team meetings. This time I didn’t because the meeting was an impromptu surprise..
      And you are absolutely right about vocabulary. Once an argument devolves to what this or that word means, it is over.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. 🙂 poor you, I am awed, you always stay patiently. I’d be that bull trampling the china. Maybe pointiing out, that summing up the time they spend over this, it would indeed be cheaper to just chip in and settle the fraud-bill.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh My. That is just hell for me. I have no patience for people who don’t stick to the stated tasks of the meeting. Or who involve involved people in problems.
    I have a friend who had no patience for this sort of stupidity, and asked at a meeting if they could all stop masturbating the side problems and just make a damn decision.
    While I see how that’s not appropriate, part of me just feels like he’s the hero in that situation. Because meetings like that one you just survived are just a nightmare.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good tip! And I think I’d have enough people on my side. If you hate committee rule, my job would drive you bonkers. We are a “sociocratic” organization – rule by consensus. That means talking about things for so long and so circuitously until the Naysayers switch to “Aye” out of sheer desperation.

      Liked by 1 person

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