Saturday, March 11, 2006

My worst employees

Everyone is blogging up a storm about--their worst, craziest, etc,--employers. Believe me, being the employer is no bed of roses. Here are some of the people I had to deal with:

Fred, the janitor, who used to come in to lock up the library, and ostensibly to clean. By the time we had circled the block, he was out the back door and headed to the bars on Main Street. Fred was subtle; he would leave a rag in a conspicuous place so we would know he had dusted. Fred also had a proprietary attitude toward the trash--he didn't like it if you put anything sizable in the trash can. The staff would hardly ever put anything bigger than a staple in the trash can, so as not to incur the wrath of Fred. When it snowed, Fred was nowhere to be found, neither was our snowblower. Fred was out cleaning other people's walks with our snowblower. For extra money. We had to wait our turn. He was a civil servant, so I couldn't get rid of him. But I could eliminate his job and hire a cleaning service.

Maureen, who used to come in at eight, sign in, and to have her coffee with the other staff, who came in at eight but signed in at nine. She would then skip her lunch and breaks and leave at three o'clock, just when the schoolkids came in and the library was busy. When I called Maureen in to my office to ask why she had not done something, she informed me that I couldn't just tell her what to do; I had to earn her loyalty. Maureen earned her library degree on our dime. She set her schedule to conform with her classes and did homework at her desk. If by any chance she had to get up to help someone, she heaved an exasperated sigh and cast her eyes heavenward. What happened to her? Someone else hired her.

Kris, who came from some persecuted ethnic group like Latka Gravis. The trouble was partly because she used Latka Gravatian at home and hung out with fellow Gravatians, so her English was a little rusty when she did her job, which was reference librarian, for God's sake. K would work if I held a gun to her head, but if I put the gun down she would stop. She sat at her desk reading romance novels and telling anyone who asked her anything that we didn't have it in the library. As awful as she was, she was a warm body and when she took an impromptu vacation I had to take her Saturday!. She finally decided to retire.

Then there was Eddie, the head of circulation who never got to work on time and used to disappear. The children's librarian got the fright of her life when she entered the auditorium and found Eddie sleeping on one of the tables. Eddie was still provisional, so I fired him. It is never fun to fire anyone, but it wasn't too hard in Eddie's case.

These people were at different libraries at different times in my checkered career. Most of the people I worked with were sweethearts who worked hard and were devoted to the patrons and the library. I thanked my lucky stars for them. But, unfortunately, 80 percent of your time is devoted to the problem workers and only 20 percent to everything else.

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