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Around the Holidays
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I checked my financial accounts this morning. The mortgage payment and other substantial payments have all been credited to the various accounts. However, my financial institution has not debited my account. It was kind of exciting to see all those thousands of dollars (5 figures) sitting there, as if they hadn't been promised already.

I got to thinking about it--probably the person whose regular routine includes running the tape (or whatever the process is) to debit the accounts is on vacation and the other people in the unit just haven't thought to do it.

This happens a lot in the corporate life and I have come to be wary of making major decisions or taking important actions around the holidays. Very often the person with whom you are dealing is not the person who usually performs the task and the level of service is degraded or nonexistent.

The reverse can be true, as well. A couple of years ago I had to have semi-urgent surgery, right on New Year's Eve. Every time I woke up, before and after, I kept thinking, "Does this person know what s/he is doing? What does s/he usually do?" On one occasion, the nurse who came to give me meds and deal with my nausea and need to sit up, turned out to have the regular position of Charge Nurse. And she was wonderful. I've never had such terrific care. I asked her why she was taking care of me and she said everyone else was on vacation, the hospital was on skeleton staff except for the ER.

And last week I went to give blood (I'm O Neg and CMV neg) and the young man who did the stick was incredibly expert. No poking and lifting of arm. No rubbing up and down to raise the vein. No asking another person for consultation. He just tightened the cuff, swabbed the area and popped in the needle. The last person to take blood from me left me with a silver-dollar-sized hematoma.

I asked him what his regular job was and he said he was an ER nurse and was doing this to fill in for a friend (and earn an extra bit of money.) I asked him if he was tired after 11 hours of bloodletting and he laughed and said he was used to it. The Red Cross assignment was nothing compared to 36 hours of emergencies on holiday weekends.

Still, though, I'm leery of doing stuff around the holidays. I've had some really bad experiences with persons out of their area of knowledge.

In my office, both my manager and I came up through the ranks, from new hires to the positions we now hold. We work interchangeably pretty well, and not much gets past us. Operationally, no glitches; with paperwork, there have been a couple of slow submissions, but nothing that affected payroll or students, so who cares (except for the bean counters.)

It's nice having a 3-day weekend, especially after the 1-day weekends and 14-hour days recently. Who's minding the store? The voice mail! And the Dispatch Office.

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