I do not prescribe to the notion that I must be "connected" at all times. An ongoing struggle at work, for me, is the fact I do not enjoy carrying a cell phone. Having a constant electronic leash is not appealing. Most of the calls I receive away from the time clock are not good news or congratulations for a job well done or a message saying that the persons now working can handle their jobs. No, the calls are usually problems that others refuse to handle or possible shortcomings that need to be brought to light immediately or just an available ear that needs to be shouted in at that exact moment. Is it an attempt to monopolize a worker's time or is it an unawareness to the fact that for some the universe revolves around things other than themselves (most likely a family not their own)? Most of the problems that need resolution have originated through the actions of other's that also share the belief of the self-centered universe. I suppose that there lies the root of the issue; the collision of multiple self-centered universes.
My recent election to Girl Scout camp cook (and all the responsibilities that go with that title chronicled in an earlier post) serves as a prime example. I had used a vacation day at work, submitted nearly six months in advance in order to allow for plenty of pre-planning to alleviate problems due to my absence. A slew of reminders throughout the prior work weeks were publicized and the days leading up to my single day of volunteerism were filled with discussions of shift coverage. The knowledge of my dedication to volunteerism is widespread, easily not a secret, yet somehow the person assigned to cover my work responsibilities did not get the memo and decided that "illness" would over take him on that exact day without any type of notification prior (including a call during the day) to the start of the shift. The problem quickly became mine, my electronic leash ringing hatefully, as I cooked for 30 Girl Scouts. The ill employee could not be reached and there would be no interruption to his sickness or comment on his interest in "covering the job" and the added responsibility for the day. Two self-centered universes collided, a worker unwilling to shoulder a load and a job searching for the available ear, and the only one found was volunteering for a community group. (Do not be alarmed, as the "ill" employee made a full recovery by the following Monday without the need for any medical intervention.)
Perhaps it was my own universe that suffered from this inconvenience but it also seems that my universe was the only one giving back some time to others. Which brings us to another example of this growing society of selfishness. My daughter, while moving ahead in her school career, has reached double digits in age and a grade in which the work is harder, the computations more complex, and the classroom more accelerated. Her class, as a whole, was saddled with the extra assignment of completing several hours of community service. This was an assignment that she was excited about. She loves her participation in Scouting, embraces helping her grandmother out at the local senior center, raises her voice for a different senior center every holiday season as she carols for the elderly, carries bags of her outgrown clothes to shelters and homes of those less-fortunate than her, and even adopts a family for Christmas, especially enjoying picking out a few choice things for her adopted counter-part. Yet her excitement of further community endeavors was short-lived as she was given notice by her teacher that mandatory school-based community service projects were to be suspended because some parents felt that it did not contribute to their child's education and held no real value. My daughter was confused, "How can community service, helping others, have no value?" Her teacher has had no answer and her parents fight not to expose her to too much cynicism at once (her father already suffers from an overabundance of it and needs not callous his child unnecessarily). Several self-centered universes combined to collide with the school's policy and create an atmosphere where a student does not need to give back to his/her community but only take care of themselves (and their perceived college applications, even if they are only 5th graders). The students are now educated in selfishness and new self-centered universes have been born. I am happy to see that my situation will be perpetuated by future generations.