Monday, March 20, 2006

The importance of Staff Meetings

There are many factors that go into a smooth working engine in an office, but when it comes to importance, I’d say Staff meetings have earned a spot on the top of the heap. The term Staff meeting is coded. The CIA uses the term to send secret messages between governments, you know.
To the general public, they are slated as awful things, “Ewwww, we’ve got staff meeting tomorrow” but sometimes relying on that (as a child would rely on a parent’s NO! at times to be the excuse for not going to Janie’s house because Janie always acts out and never shares her things) comes in handy.
Say, for instance, the auditor calls to set up a time to “chat”. There’s no better reason to cancel than the illustrious staff meeting. The words travel across language barriers all over the world. Staff meeting in German looks like this: Personalsitzung- and in Spanish it looks like: reuniĆ³n de personal. People connect with the term, shaking their heads as if they sadly understand.
Important , critical information is birthed at these seemingly routine occasions. I read once where the Queen of England was chosen in a staff meeting.

We have staff who live all over the map, and once a week, they tackle challenging traffic, weather, and dangerous elements to attend our weekly meeting. It’s important. Not taken lightly. Crucial. We had ours today.

Some of the vital topics covered today included: supporting our congregation’s thirst for fellowship, sharing our inner spirituality and individuality through creative expression in our offices, and building community through bonding with other neighboring religions.

Basically, we talked about coffee, paint colors, and Jewish babysitters. The babysitters discussion had some actual value, as we were wondering if we could trade out our child care providers for the synagogue’s during holidays? Like, for instance, we’d send our troops over to help out duringRoshashana, and they’d lend us their Mary Poppins team on Easter. Hey, it could work. Well, it might.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Phone book Phantom

Yes, it's that time of the year again. the new phone books are out. woo hoo.

This is the time of year that we are challenged to dispose of our old phone books.

LIfe is full of challenges, I don't see why this one needs to cycle around but it does. sigh...

I've tried to outwit the system, but have found that the phone book drop is as persistent as the US Mail. Yes, the mail doesn't always deliver in the right time or place, but they do deliver and that is what I've found with the phone book drop. Rain snow, sleet, bird droppings, nothing stops the process.

We had 15 sets show up on the floor in the mail room last week. 3 more came by some local delivery service a few days later, and yesterday, I turned in a parcel slip at the postoffice only to find out the parcel was another set of phone books. I'm convinced there's some sort of Government plan going on here. Maybe the pages are reconstructed from secret documents that were shredded. Maybe they are made of old disposable dirty diapers, plucked from the landfills. ARe the phonebookers trying to save the earth?

And the opportunities to deposit old ones into safe depositories are small at best. " We will accept outdated phone books on this day from 9:04 am to 9:06 am sharp. No exceptions" sigh again.

I've run out of ways to use these chunky books. They are too thick to use as a fan, they don't compost very fast, all the chairs in all the barbour shops in America are phone book occupied,but there are a few tasks that I have found these old phone books come in handy for.

They are great stress relievers when torn to shreds. Cats like to chew on the covers. I think the dyes calm them. Great weapons, great. lift and throw. lift and toss. Kick and punt. AS a security measure , they act as a strong barrier between burglars and you. build a wall of them at the bottom of the steps, and place random books around the living room and near the safe. Robbers will trip in the dark and it buys you time to call 911. They make interesting wall paper in bathrooms where you can practice reading small print. They stabalize furniture but caution here. At present, my sofa is suffering from the "princess and the pea" syndrome. It stands on 24 books and is nearly to the ceiling. AS is all my furnture, bed, dresser, desk, dining table, stove, book shelves.
well. There are only so many ways you can put those things to use.

Gum works miracles

March 17, 2006

Dear Double Bubble,

I am the church secretary here at ??UMC in Raleigh, NC. I have been working here over a year now, and I started this job after working in the preschool community for 30 years. You can imagine the learning curve after such a long time in a children’s environment. I am also the mother of four daughters, so I’ve got mom written all over me.

My girls play sports, softball in particular, and we always supply the double bubble for the games. It helps tremendously, both with spirit and support among team members.

With the success of the gum at games, I decided to try placing a bowl of DB on my desk at work. At first the reaction was questions, lots of questions. What is this for? May I have a piece? Why? …. Now, a year later, the question is “Where is the gum?” when I’m out. No questions at all come from passers by who have grown accustomed to the source of stress relief / serendipitous energy; they just sidetrack in/ grab a piece- sometimes two- and keep on their way. It has been a wonderful source for conversation, an ice breaker, and a calming element for those waiting to see the Pastor.

I write to you today, because this week, DB became a tool for increasing our membership. Yes. This is true. We had a lunchtime prayer opportunity this week, and in the middle of it, a stranger cruised down the hall and landed in my office. She was flustered, looked embarrassed, and was finishing off a long and hacking coughing fit.
“ I wonder if I may have a piece of gum to settle my throat?” she asked timidly, quietly coughing her way along.
“That’s what it is here for, help yourself.”
She took a piece and popped it in her mouth. “ smaller than I remember”
I agreed.
“ Lovely church, I never saw a church that offered gum before.” Her demeanor eased, and a smile began to form along her sticky pinked lips. “ you are the church secretary?”
“Yes I am, are you a member?”
She chewed for a bit before answering. “ No, I’m just visiting for the prayer service, but….” She turned and walked out . As she disappeared down the hallway, I heard her gum pop. “ I think I’ll be back, I like the way you do things around this church.”

So, Double Bubble, as you can see, you not only make a difference in a young child’s life, but your double bubbles have a ripple effect on adults, too.

Melanie Iversen

gidgets and gadgets

One would think that working in the area of truth and moral solitude acts as a deterrent for social evils such as gimics, marketing barkers, and the like. I am discovering in my adventures here at work church, that this is oh, not so.

I answered a call last week and instead of hearing a voice addressing me, the answerer, I heard voices in the background, the tone was cubical, and the sense was campfire-like. It felt like a group of cubical-ites were gathered around in a huddle chittering about something. I waited.
I heard a distant voice say, “ NO you keep asking for the children’s minister, they never let you talk directly to them, but if you keep at it, eventually you’ll get them, THEN you start to sell the product. You just have to keep at it.

I sat in shock, popped my gum and waited. The pop must have spoken because the chit chat stopped, the fire was doused and a very low, calm rich voice spoke.
Well. I never let the syllables completely sound out. I sat upright in my chair and said, “ I think you should know that I can hear everything going on in the background and I find it very offensive and I don’t want you to ever call here again.” Then I hung up. I was shaking and realized later that I had shocked my own self. Who did I think I was speaking so directly to a total stranger who could, of course, be Jesus in disguise as a telemarketer? I hope God will forgive me.

Two staff members were standing outside my office. They stopped their conversation and looked at me as if I was suddenly growing green and slimy appendages; as if my friendly mask was dissolving only to reveal my true black-hearted dagger self. Their eyes grew large, and One friend stepped over the threshold into my cave and held up her hand for a high five, calling out enthusiastically, “ Now there’s some good therapy paying off, sister!” Gosh, I guess you just never know........

Church Chick