Thursday, October 16, 2008

My time is your time

"Hi," began the cheery email. "Although you're on the large, campus-wide committee, we omitted your name from the initial mailing announcing a meeting today. Here are two huge, complicated documents to read and respond to; they're on the agenda. Can you join us at 3 p.m. today?"

No, I can't. And if I could, I'm not sure I would, with such short notice. So what do you say?

"Sorry, but I can't be at the meeting because I'm not on campus today."

Backspace backspace backspace backspace. Why should I explain where I am?

"Sorry, I can't be at the meeting today. I'll try to make the next one." That's better.

But what if the next meeting is also on a day when I'm not on campus? (There are only a few such days this semester, and some weeks don't have any.) A campus day doesn't mean a 5-minute bus ride; it means a long drive, and a long day. It also means a day with no writing, because I'm too fried and too tired at the end of the day to write anything.

There's an unwritten rule that whoever calls the meeting gets to set the times, which seems fair. On the other hand, since I'm on campus so much this semester, I'm becoming irrationally irritated by meetings scheduled on the one day a week that I'm not there, especially if the people calling the meetings are mostly not around at other times. This goes double if, as so often, the meeting is one where I'm only an attendant lord, there mostly to swell a progress or be a dutiful audience. They're calling the shots. My time is their time.

What to do? I can only think of three solutions.

1. Become the boss of the world and schedule all meetings on a day convenient for me.

2. Become irrationally annoyed by the scheduling.

3. Keep saying "Sorry, I can't make that meeting" at the risk of annoying everyone else.

Any suggestions?


Lesboprof said...

I would also send them some dates that work for you in the future. If you have certain days that really work well for you (Mon, 2-5p), I would put those out there.
Then, if they cannot accommodate you, you tried.

undine said...

I'm going to do that, lesboprof, if they ask for our schedules for the next one. I'm really borrowing trouble in this post, because I don't know that they've set up the days for the other meetings; maybe it'll all work out.