Probably, everyone has that one person at work with whom they never want to tangle. That loony, difficult, often outright aggressive one that everyone avoids but is kept around because s/he brings in the bank. Here, we have one who is a former Immaculate Heart nun. While we think it odd that a former nun would be working at an institution owned and run by the same order she left, recent speculation is that she actually beat the children too hard during the 1960s and so did not voluntarily leave the order but may have been kicked out. And yeah, for those not doing the math, she’s like 80. And a terror.
So when my phone rang yesterday, and she sounded all kind and fake-perplexed, I knew something was up, and it couldn’t be good.
It turns out she was demanding information about a course she was running that was a train wreck and so, of course, it must be all our office’s fault because her office is a sweet pink confection made of powdered sugar, angel food cake and chocolate sprinkles.
My boss and I investigated.
And then, I sent the following email to my boss after calling the one with whom we try not tangle (note the that ex-nun shall heretofore be known as “the wicked witch of the west” (TWWOTW) to protect her privacy):
“Hey. I called TWWOTW and went through the history of the edits to update it to the new text edition in February, the publication of the new edition of the module in March, the course running successfully with the current content in June, etc. She is “looking into it”. When I suggested that the students may have purchased the wrong edition of the book, she said that was not possible per the counselor (not sure who that is). The counselor said that it was a problem from our office. I’ll let you know if I hear back.”
And of course, I did. But from someone else, who very reliably told me the WHOLE story. And so I sent this out next:
“Per Glenda the Good Witch, this is the Evil Princess’s [a counselor who works for TWWOTW] error. She tried earlier today to blame it on an underling in their office, then switched her story to make it all our fault when that did not work. The Evil Princess put together the packets that went to the students instructing them about what they needed and the information in them was all wrong. ”
Excellent, right? Problem solved. While the issue of which one of us was going to stab the Evil Princess may have been bandied about, and we contemplated hiring Copernicus the Homicidal Monkey (do a fb search for “Copernicus the Homicidal Monkey” if you don’t get it – and none of this makes sense if you do not read thebloggess) to contract a hit, we decided maybe a message conveyed by Baby Beyonce was more in keeping with the mission of the institution.
Did we send it to her via email? I’ll leave you to wonder!
I went home and made some lasagna and drank some wine.
Then this morning, it appears TWWOTW decided that it was in fact not all over and decided to up the ante because in my inbox, I found this:
Yesterday, when I asked for a meeting to talk about process, I was aware of only one problem with the [the course where they created their own problem then tried to blame it on me and Vicki]. Since that time, I have become aware of an email that was directed to the recruiters telling them about changes to a book that is purchased for [yet another course we have no problems with]. The email did not come to me but was redirected to me by one of the counselors (do you think we don’t know who did that EVIL PRINCESS?????). The email stated that the Department of Nursing wanted this change implemented as soon as possible (perhaps because the book is out of print and the students cannot buy it anymore????).
Later this morning, I found out the book used for [yet another totally unrelated course] is no longer in print [and has not been for 12 years, nitwit, which you surely know because WE have discussed it] and that the students are unable to obtain it. (My, my Evil Princess, you’re working your tight little butt off today trying to shield yourself from any blame by creating tempests in teacups, aren’t you??? If you paid this much attention to your actual job, I wouldn’t be writing notes on metal chickens and emailing them to you.)
I am asking for a meeting with you as I feel as though I am out of the loop. I will take full responsibility for the problem with [the first course that started this string of communication because it was totally the Evil Princess’s fault]. There has been a lot of fingerpointing, and I will handle that situation in house.
I just need to be aware of changes that are occurring especially if they impact our new cohorts. Can you and I meet so that I understand what is happening?
Wrong day to send this witchy-poo. I was already planning to take Friday as a much needed mental health day because I’m feeling a little bit STRESSED. Also, have you met my mother? I have no fear of you at all on this earth. For 44 years, I have dealt with someone way more intimidating than you, and while the $200K worth of therapy may not have yielded much in terms of my relationship with her, with you, it has been a beacon of success. BRING IT.
Vicki, MK and I have a scheduled department meeting today and will discuss these issues. We are happy to meet with you to discuss communication issues; perhaps we can set something up at the end of next week or the beginning of the following? (Cause it’s not freaking happening on your terms, or while this wild hair is lodged in your considerable derriere.)
Also, [our favorite professor] has been aware that the text for [other random course the Evil Princess has distracted you with – and like a cat with a shiny thing you’ve fallen for it] has been out of print for some time, but it is available at a number of websites, and students have never had a problem obtaining it. We discussed it with her last week what she wanted to do going forward with the course, and she has decided to do a major revision to the course, which should be completed this semester. She has been issued a contract to revamp it using more updated and available materials.
I’ll be in touch after our meeting when I have a better sense of my schedule, Mary Kate’s schedule and yours.
The Evil Princess was on her toes, though, because I got this back:
What are the websites you are referring to and what do the students do in the meantime? We have two groups that will take this course this semester.
Really? Really? You want me to go searching the net for a book for some students who probably already bought it from the class before because your little princess is whispering in your ear that it can’t be found?
“I believe that Amazon, Half.com, Barnes and Noble, and usedtextbooks.net all have the title currently listed for either purchase or rent. http://ebookee.org has it available for free download to a computer. And google documents has almost every chapter of it (if not all of them – I simply do not have the time to check) for download as well. Perhaps the bookstore has other ideas; you could check with them. And I’m sure that there are other websites where it can be found that the students know about, and they do seem to buy the used books from each other with great frequency, which we do not track.”
I did not mention that the book is currently selling, used, on amazon for $436 or that Barnes and Noble only has one copy. Thankfully, my boss, who has NOTHING better to do, found that the library has it online for free. She sends an email with that information along to TWWOTW. Shoulda been the end of it, right? Should never have been a start to this nuttiness…
And that’s when she got the nurses involved because clearly her faculties are no longer with her…and by that I do not mean the people she hires to teach courses (a group in which I am sure I will now NEVER be included). And I find I’m copied on this:
Nurse One forwarded your message to me. I cannot speak to any problems with health assessment’s out of print text but I can speak to [the other course you’ve gone batshit about]. The text has a new edition which was supposed to be out in November but was published early (September). I did redo the readings, etc. and forwarded those to Karin’s office. Hopefully, the version with the revised edits will be posted for the October, etc. cohorts. Hope this helps,
Chair of Nursing Department and Very Sane Human”
And then I get copied on this almost immediately:
“Dear Dr. Sane Nurse:
The problem is that our registration packets are prepared in August. They are printed by Canon and assembled in the mail room.
I became aware of the new book’s availability yesterday when an email was sent to the recruiters by [someone I totally try to bully and pick on at every opportunity because I have no shame]. I have not been apprised by anyone that this change has been incorporated in the modules.
I will go back to Karin to determine if these changes have been made in the module for 301 and if it has been posted on Angel.
I have some concerns about students who may have been registered and who have not yet gotten the module from the website. Will both modules be available on Angel and can we differentiate one from the other?
I become abrupt and respond to TWWOTW:
“Both versions of the module are currently available on Angel, and it’s our understanding that the nursing department has already alerted the adjuncts regarding the changes.”
I get a thank-you note from boss for handling the situation so well. I’m beaming. But because TWWOTW has to have the last word, I receive:
The Nursing Department does not always know who is teaching their new classes. For example, we just identified [a local hospital] as a new site and I haven’t found anyone to teach there as yet.
To my boss, Vicki and several others, I forward that message, along with the following:
“In other words, people we haven’t hired yet for a program that’s not approved yet, haven’t been told about changes they don’t need to know about (possibly ever)?”
Because that’s how much fucking sense this fucking makes at this fucking point. I wait an hour. I try deep breathing. Chat with Vicki. Stare at Baby Beyonce. Sit on my hands not to send it out to TWWOTW. It will only cause a conflagration, aggravation for my lovely boss, possibly a visit by the TWWOTW to this office, which would not be good.
Of course, I do not let it go…
That is good news because you or the nursing department will have the opportunity to explain this before the class starts in the event you hire an adjunct to whom they have not communicated these changes.
Also, perhaps you might want to reconsider including the first week’s assignments in those packets. Given how module updates occur, and with the tight timelines with which we are often forced to deal, it seems this policy might be causing more problems than it solves (or even- can I go so freaking far as to suggest – causing all of the problems you have today. Because why would you get a ton of crap printed when you KNOW, you KNOW, you KNOW how fast the editions of books change and how little notice we usually have.). We make every effort to ensure that the students have them available two weeks prior to the start of a course through Angel, but many times we are right at the two-week mark when the modules are uploaded into the shells.
Just a thought. Again, I’ll be in touch about a meeting sometime soon.
And she replies, in such a way as I suspect she might be drinking or completely, over the top, blindly raging at being spoken back to:
We do include the first week’s assignments in the packets. We have paid for the printing and the assembly of the packets (because despite the fact that I made the “get it off the internet two weeks before your class starts policy, I changed that and didn’t tell you, and now I spent a fortune making copies of things that are completely wrong and causing chaos for students and instructors).
That is precisely my point. We are giving the students written information that conflicts with a recent change that I knew nothing about.
Precisely her point. Okay then. Nutshell time. HER office is giving HER students information that’s out of date weeks before they should even have it and that’s causing HER problems. I TOTALLY get how this is my issue, now. Thanks for clarifying. I tried to let that one go, too, but it was just like bait for a fish, and I leapt at it.
Perhaps I’m oversimplifying, but if the counselors pull that one assignment sheet out of the packet before they mail it, the problem no longer exists. Again, just trying to be helpful…
No response. Not sure if that’s a good thing or not. We find it “interesting” in a guarded, kind of “maybe we won this one” kind of way.
I’m thinking TWO mental health days this week may be in order…I’m not sure I want to be here tomorrow in case she’s just in a meeting or too busy or apoplectic to respond. Or loading a gun or a bow and arrow. Something like that.