Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Last Time I Was In Charge ...

Regular readers of this blog will remember that I took over as head of my department at work this past spring. This morning I was walking into work when I ran into my boss, the vice president. We discussed a few budget issues, and perhaps I inadvertently reminded her that I might actually know what I am doing. Less than an hour later, I received an email from her administrative assistant: "lightning: Are you available to be in charge of Student Services in the vice president's absence? She plans to take some vacation days." I was reminded of the first time I had been asked to be in charge while the boss was away ...

Years ago I had been new in a supervisory position and was very interested in augmenting my credentials. When my boss, Carol, asked me to be in charge while she was away at a professional conference, I enthusiastically agreed. After Carol left, her secretary told me that someone had been scheduled to see me -- a student that Carol wanted to talk to but had not been able to before she left. The student, Josh, had been a little too aggressive in dealing with the instructor of his religious studies class. I was to talk with him about his behavior.

Josh was initially agitated since he didn't understand why he was seeing me instead of Carol. After checking in with my secretary, Nancy, he sat down, took off his sandals, and began playing with his toes! Nancy alerted me that this guy seemed to be odd. Things were about to get much worse.

It became evident immediately that Josh was going to be trouble. He was resentful at having to speak with me. He ripped on the instructor of the class, saying that he was a crappy teacher and didn't know what he was talking about. I started to say "It's funny that we are talking about a religion class because I actually minored in theology in college and am well versed in the subject." I was not able to get all the words out when Josh started raising his voice, yelling "Funny? This isn't FUNNY." As his level of agitation continued to rise, I decided to just cut things short. He was getting totally out of control. I finally had to call out to my secretary, "Nancy, call Public Safety." She stared at me with a puzzled look. I had to repeat, "Nancy -- CALL PUBLIC SAFETY." Josh went bonkers, saying "You're calling Public Safety on ME? You're calling Public Safety on ME?" He then ran out of my office into the middle of our reception area, grabbed his crotch, jumped up and down and shouted at the top of his lungs, "SUUUUUUUUUUUCK MY DIIIIIIIIIICK!!!!" He darted down the stairs and ran out of the building. Meanwhile, all my colleagues heard the commotion and stepped out of their offices to see what was going on. I was just standing there looking foolish. I sheepishly said to Nancy, "Have the Public Safety officer just come in my office when she gets here."

Aftermath --   It turned out that Josh was a drug addict and was higher than a kite that day. He tried to return to campus for a subsequent semester and was forced to write an insincere letter of apology to me. Asshole. My now deceased best buddy at work loved to bring up this story about once a year. In a high-pitched voice he would mimic "You're calling Public Safety on ME?" We always referred to Josh as "The Crotch Grabber." As for Carol ... she never asked me to be in charge again.

I hope the 2012 version of "lightning in charge" will be much different than the 1990's version.

9 Comments:

Blogger ~Coach said...

You handled the situation perfectly. I don't understand why you were never asked to be in charge again - I don't know what you could have done differently.

1:16 AM  
Blogger Spot said...

Great story. You realize, of course, on future trips to Vegas you now run the risk of being greeted with "You're calling Public Safety on ME?"
without, one would hope, the accompanying crotch grab. Then again, you'll be among friends and I'm sure you'll handle it just as effectively as you did with Josh.

2:00 AM  
Blogger lightning36 said...

@ ~Coach -- Yeah, believe me that things were going to turn out bad no matter what. I have worked in higher education for over 30 years and nothing anywhere close to this has ever happened to me. Although I always liked Carol, I was irritated that she appeared to somehow think that this incident had anything to do with my ability to lead and manage.

@Spot -- My departed friend Norm used to get such a charge out of bringing that story up. It never got old.

8:00 AM  
Blogger Cranky said...

What coach said. If she had any concerns about how you handled the situation, she could have just asked you directly rather than assume. You know what "assume" does! :-)

Good story, though.

11:41 AM  
Anonymous KenP said...

Was that the first time you met Waffles?

1:33 PM  
Blogger The Neophyte said...

Too bad you didn't have a taser "Don't tase me bro" would have been his next words

2:29 PM  
Blogger Man InBlack said...

So that was the first time you met TBC? lol

3:42 PM  
Blogger lightning36 said...

I think Josh, Waffles, and Tony are all members of the same club.

4:48 PM  
Blogger Man InBlack said...

ouch, why would you insult Josh and Waffles like that....lol

5:57 PM  

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