Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Is That in Your Job description?

Last night, I chatted on-line with my friend Dorothy. I wanted to know if she had finished plastering the holes in the walls and then completed painting them. That might not appear to be an unusual question until I give you the context. Dorothy is a social worker for a small community service agency and I was referring to the work she did to make her office space at least marginally habitable.

Dorothy and I used to work together and one of our enduring, ironic catch phrases was, "Is that in your job description?" We laughed about all the things we had to do that had little or no connection to our 'real' jobs.

It reminded me of all the times I've done ridiculous and sometimes dangerous things, all for the sake of keeping my employment.

Once upon a time, I was the office manager for one of the Federal Law Reform Commissions. Remember those? A lot of lawyers spent a lot of time proposing changes to the law and they required reams and reams of typing, they also required numerous meetings to argue the changes. My boss, who was in charge of the project, was brilliant and very absent-minded. He was also almost entirely unaware of how he looked. However, he did notice when the sole of his shoe came adrift just before one of those endless meetings. He came to my desk, presented me with the shoe and demanded I fix it. Thank goodness for Elmer's glue and a heavy duty stapler!

I've carried long and heavy pieces of lumber down steep stairs into a hospital basement workshop. Why? Because the delivery was dropped off at the wrong place and the Veterans who used the workshop wanted to work. Or maybe the answer to why is - because I've always been more than a little crazy. I still have a scar from that episode because the person at the other end of the lumber let go too soon.

When I worked at the Community Centre, I often became the maintenance guy because the building Seniors' Services occupied did not have its own maintenance staff. I've bailed out grease traps, cleaned up messy toilets (frequently) mopped up floods, often moved furniture and so forth. And of course, there were risks attached to my 'real' job at the time - like the distinct possibility of bringing home bugs from the homes of the seniors I visited, or the possibility of being attacked in one of the most dangerous apartment buildings in Scarborough. But I loved what I was doing.

I guess that's why I did so many things that weren't in my job description.

My job description these days is simpler - write, revise, revise, revise, research as necessary, and send my work out. It's good thing I'm my own boss most of the time, because there are lots of days when I don't do any of those things.

I should start revising a short story now, but first I'll check the mail. Maybe there will be something in the mail that will help me procrastinate a bit longer. Perhaps I should add creative procrastination to my job description.

Is it in yours?

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