About ten months ago, I wrote a post on ‘how to organise a meeting‘. Having reread this, I realise how far I have come in the world of admin work since then. I used to make a mess of very simple meeting arrangements; now I make a mess of complicated ones.
I have progressed from the mere booking of dates and rooms to the booking of buffets, timeslots, and even teleconferencing.
I always thought of myself as a ‘people person’, even though when I thought about it I realised that I found most people annoying and often wished I could fast forward their conversations to the interesting part, in the same way that I skim over the boring bits of books. Despite not being a sociable person , I was often identified as such due to my smiley, interested face, which people automatically (and very mistakenly) trusted.
Surely someone who nods and smiles that much will take a personal interest in ensuring that I get a vegetarian option, they might think. She looks like a vegetarian herself.
But they would be wrong. Behind the smile and trustworthy exterior is a woman with a memory like a sieve and no organisational skills whatsoever, who eats chickens without remorse. The first time I organised a meeting at which lunch was to be served, I completely omitted to order any food. While I sat in the meeting room explaining that a buffet would be arriving soon, my colleagues in the office ran around organising one.
Tension built in the meeting room as a group of hungry people clearly had no intention of starting the meeting without lunch. Conversation was a little tense. The group were beginning to realise how very unreliable I was.
‘I notice that you called me Dr in the last minutes, but actually I am a Mister,’ said one.
‘The last meeting Coordinator used to include a check-list with the meeting papers but I noticed that since you took over we don’t get that any more,’ said another, bitterly.
‘Will there be mince pies with the lunch? We were expecting mince pies,’ said another (it was December).
‘Excuse me a moment.’
I rang my colleague with an emergency request for mince pies. A tense hour later and a team of my fellow office workers arrived holding aloft plates of sandwiches. This mollified them more than my smiles and apologies. I was forgiven.
A month later, I had organised the next Committee meeting. There was a venue. There was lunch. There were…only half of the invitees?
There was the wrong address on the Agenda and invitations to the meeting.
Next month: I try my hand at a job to which I am better suited. Possibly knife juggling….