Wednesday, August 09, 2006


Good Thing I Got That Doctorate!

A peek behind the curtain, at yesterday’s activities:

- Get call from department chair, saying that the storage room we’re going to use while moving a program from one room to another has miscellaneous stuff in it. He wants to move it out. I get a verbal description of the stuff in question.

- I call the director of facilities, to see if he knows the origin of the stuff. He doesn’t, but suggests I call Security to make sure there’s no fire hazard.

- One does not deal with Security if one does not have to.

- I call the budget director, who doubles as unofficial guru of all things to do with rooms, to see if he knows the origin of the stuff in question.

- He wants a thicker description of the offending items.

- I track down the department chair, who is busily boxing items for moving. He gamely escorts me to the storage room, which is more of a closet. We examine the stuff for about ten minutes, while I take notes. The stuff includes a five-foot-by-four-foot block of white Styrofoam, with a label helpfully saying “large foam.” It also includes a stray piano bench, and some carpet-pad remnants that smell vaguely of death. I ask how long the stuff has been there. The chair assures me that in the several years they’ve used that area, it has always been there.

- Alertly, I wander over to the Music department, on the theory that it’s the likeliest home for a piano bench. They confirm that there was once a reason for a piano bench down there, but they’d like it back. They have no idea about the large foam or the carpet pad remnants.

- I call back the budget director, explaining the large foam, the piano bench, and the carpet pad remnants. He tells me to fill out the requisite work orders to have the piano bench moved to Music, and the foam and pad discarded.

- We also have to fill out disposal forms, with four levels of signatures, for the large foam and the pad remnants, even though they appear on nobody’s inventory.

- Since the Chair of Music is on vacation, we have to wait before having the piano bench transferred.

And that’s why it’s important that deans have faculty experience and earned doctorates.

"- We also have to fill out disposal forms, with four levels of signatures, for the large foam and the pad remnants, even though they appear on nobody’s inventory."

Okay, dumb question:

What's to keep you from grabbing a couple of healthy office staff members, putting this thing in a dumpster, and calling it "removal of dumped items"? I mean, it's not like you have to fill out a form in triplicate to toss out a piece of paper that someone dropped next to your office. This is the same thing, only bigger.

The piano bench, of course, gets slotted into the system. But at least you're rid of the obvious trash.
You're assuming the presence of a dumpster. You're also assuming that the office staff union wouldn't pitch a fit, which it would.
LMAO - my first thought in response to Kimmtt's comment was about the unionized staff, too. Can you tell I work for the government - your whole post describes just a single day in the life around here.

Um, can I have the big foam? Two preschoolers and a huge block of stryofoam ought to be good for at least 20 minutes of entertainment. Hell, it's probably cheaper to ship the foam to Canada then to dispose of it otherwise!
Hmmm... there's a saying in the military (and elsewhere) that it's better to ask for forgiveness than permission. So the union would complain. So do it yourself, along with the Department chair...
We're all unionized here but we know who in the union won't rat us out. And, if worse comes to worse, faculty have been known to come in on Saturdays and "absentmindedly" move a few things around. We rely on our idiot savant reputations to get us out of lots of trouble with the staff union and it usually works!
Okay, I give up; I did, in fact, assume that there was a vaguely accessible dumpster within a half-block of your building, and when you assume...
This is a case for "that guy - with the brown hair". He does all kinds of things around our University, repainting offices, installing bulletin boards, changing broken light bulbs and much more. No one actually knows who he is but we all remember he looks vaguely like someone that works for the facilities department. He always wears a blue jumper like those guys and has some sort of badge.

Anyway, whenever something gets done without a proper work request, we are always really surprised because it was done by that guy (I swear)!

He's so useful.
My last university was like this. One day a colleague and I walked into a classroom and carried out every offending item--including junk that had been sitting there since the 70s. (While wearing heels and skirts, I might add.) We stacked it up by the garbage cans, and it eventually disappeared.

The funny thing is that no one missed any of the junk. But if we'd asked for permission, we'd have dealt with heaps of paperwork and territorial issues. Over junk no one wanted. Go figure.
And what comment is missing? The big piece of foam most likely was/is a fire hazard. The newspaper here started referring to foam as "solid gasoline" after the nightclub fire in 2003. It's possible that the large foam was fire retardant, but I wouldn't go near it with a match.
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