I said I'd do a task for a committee, and it involved working with another faculty member from a very different area of the university. We agreed to arrange a meeting by email, and met this week. We both had notes prepared, and went through what we thought was important. She taught me what I needed to learn about the process (because I'm a noob). We chatted a little as we worked, in a friendly, well-focused way.
She said she'd write up what needed to be written up, and send me a draft, which she did by the next morning. I said I'd read it and make revision suggestions, and revised it with an explanatory note to her by that afternoon. She liked the revisions, and I sent it on to the committee chair before I left that afternoon. The task got done days ahead of the deadline, which means everyone else has more time to review and think about what we've done.
Task accomplished. I got to work with a colleague I've learned to respect and admire, who approaches things differently than I do. It's very cool to work with someone whose training produces really different approaches and thinking than my own, very smart and effective approaches, approprate to different problem solving. Our work meshed well. I would be very glad to work with her on another project.
This morning, I had a meeting related to a group presentation we were trying to work out. One of the difficulties is figuring out the timing of the presentation. The group leader suggested a time, and invariably, one of the group members made a face and clicked away on his laptop. We're all busy people, but most of us manage not to make faces and hold up the whole meeting with our busyness. I'd like to have smacked him.
I'm reminded of a Brecht story, "Bad Water," in which a guy kills his wife and another guy who just happens to be having sex with the first guy's wife. The killer asserts that he didn't kill them because he was jealous, and the story explains that he'd basically prostituted his wife to the second guy, but had decided to kill her because her housekeeping was inadequate. The second guy was just in the way when the killer went to smack his wife with a big stick, so he got killed, too.
I didn't want to smack a perfectly reasonable and decent person because she was in the way, though, so I didn't smack either of them. I also didn't have a big stick or other weapon handy. So I'm not in jail right now, as I might be if I'd started smacking people at the meeting.
I would be very glad to never be in a room with this colleague again.
The less fortunate downside is that I tried to lead discussion of three Brecht short stories today. If more of the students had actually read the assigned stories, I think my leading would have gone a little better.
Five down, ten to go.