It might have been the effect of last week’s full/blue/super/red moon but that past 10 days or so have been full of the kind of issues and activities that make me very glad I will be retiring in a few months…which made me think about things I definitely will not miss:
Here they are, in no particular order:
- Customer complaints. I’m not sure which is worse – the ones that are unfounded, the ones where we actually screwed up, or the ones where the complaint is about a situation that we just can’t do anything about…and we had all of those over the past couple of weeks.
- Sticky (or as I sometimes call them, stinky) personnel issues. Had one of those last week too.
- Unstable/belligerent/intoxicated customers. Last week we made several calls to law enforcement about a couple of these…one of which resulted in an arrest.
- Board members who do things you really wish they wouldn’t but have to be handled with kid gloves because they are public officials…and your boss(es) to boot.
- Entitled people of all kinds – and my work community has more than its share. This includes community members who feel that their career/educational/financial success makes them “special,” employees sometimes who seem to forget what a great place this is to work or how well they are compensated relative to the “market” for their jobs, and volunteers (fortunately not many of them!) who feel that their volunteer service entitles them to special privileges.
- Union contract negotiations – fortunately those won’t come up again until next year, after I am long gone, but I have done way too many of them in my career and will not miss the tension and divisiveness that they create. Actually I won’t miss dealing with unions generally. I believe in their value philosophically and know they offer important workplace protections in some environments, but in practice my experience is that the presence of a union creates an unhelpful sense of “us and them” and makes it more difficult to create a culture where all employees feel part of the same team.
- Mandatory social events. Even when I know the people, making small talk is exhausting for an introvert like me….and I absolutely hate dressing up!
Reading this list it is apparent that most of the things I will not miss have to do with people!
At the same time, people are also what I will miss the most. Community members who really value what the library provides, volunteers and donors who give generously of their time and treasure, employees who are creative and innovative, and who stretch beyond the strict boundaries of their job descriptions to create innovative programs and provide great service to our customers, professional colleagues who are always willing to share advice and give support. So many of these people have become friends, and I hope those bonds do not fray once I am retired.
It’s a cliche for sure, but at the end of the day, for better or worse, it really is all about the people.