Friday, September 19, 2014

High school never ends?

I hated group work in high school. In most classes, I did most of the work, while we all received the same grade.  College group work was only slightly better.  It appears that in any group setting, some people will sit back and suggest things, but will never actually perform any work.  Just like high school. I thought this crap would end when I exited the not-so-hallowed halls of my alma mater. 

This week, on Wednesday afternoon, I got a request from the new committee chair of a group that I co-chaired last year requesting some documents and research I did. No big deal, right?  It was requested so it could be sent out Wednesday night or Thursday morning so the group could discuss it Friday morning.  I was irritated that people think I have nothing better to do than dig up old emails, but I put together what documents I could easily find (there are only 500 or so to dig through).  The chair person thanked me and sent out her email to the group. Mission accomplished. Then I got an email from another member who said she had a more full set of documents and offered to send those out. Great!  I took her up on her offer, confirmed I would present these, and thanked her. Woo hoo! Then came the the lazy bum's email. Gggrrr! Not only did he get cranky last year when I told him I didn't have time to do the research that he demanded and that he could look it up himself ("I, I don't have time for that! My kids need me to..."), he told the group last week that the report I presented wasn't the one the group approved (he didn't show for the meeting we did the approval at). Thursday, he sent me an email asking me to resend documents from last spring because he couldn't find his copies.  Really, dude? I nearly exploded. I'm not here to do his homework. I'm not volunteering for abuse, I'm here to make sure all the kids in the district get an equitable education. I'm here to speak up for the underprivileged families, and I am here to represent my school only this year, not his school, not the committee.  I snapped off a reply telling him I don't have time.  Then I screamed into a pillow.

I stopped to think about this, and then I had to laugh. I'm not the only one who experiences this, regularly.  Every really dedicated volunteer i know sees this as they plan every event. My husband has experienced this at work. My kids know the feeling.  High school really doesn't end, as the song says, and I need to learn to set my boundaries and feel good about saying "no".  if people think you'll take care of their work, they will gladly make it your problem. the best thing to do is to not allow them an opening.

I'm off to deal with this group, then I have the school walk-a-thon and Welcome Back Picnic. after that, the in-laws get here.  I hope your Friday is far less busy and stressful than mine is likely to be. Enjoy the song in any event, there's a lot of truth there.


  1. What is the adage, 20% of the people do 80% of the work. They would be doing 100% if they let themselves. The problem is we want to help, and as you indicate, we have to be careful and say "no" every once in a while.

  2. Thanks, Ila. I get so frustrated sometimes, and I need to constantly check my perspective and boundaries.

  3. Nope. Not your job to do other people's work for them. You do plenty already. I'd have been annoyed.

  4. I was annoyed and rather cranky. Hopefully, someone else ends up telling him that the homework he did do isn't appropriate for the topic. I keep telling myself there are only 8 more weeks of this committee.


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