My former team’s new boss put a meeting in my diary so that I could explain one part of my previous job, planting sunflowers, which apparently I had failed to include in my handover.
Now there is nothing to planting sunflowers – you bung the seeds in the ground, water them, and a few months later you’ve got twelve foot tall bright yellow daisy-things tapping on your bedroom windows. My former team member knows this well enough. On top of which, there was nothing to hand over. I’d picked up an action from a previous meeting (buy the sunflower seeds and put them in the kitchen drawer until the spring) and done it: the packets of seeds were safely in the kitchen drawer. The only thing I missed was telling anyone I’d done it, and I only missed that because I’d done it and crossed it off my “to do” list a month or so before the handover. I forgot to tell my team I’d wiped my nose on the third Thursday in August too.
Instead of ringing me up and saying “Aphra, I went to a meeting the other day and they asked if you’d bought any sunflower seeds, but I didn’t know whether or not you had” we had a meeting request followed up with emails using words like “very embarrassing” with stuff underlined in red, and using phrases like “all aspects of the sunflower project”. Eventually we got to “even so” and “at any time that’s convenient to you”.
You know things are tense when you get to “even so”. “Any time that’s convenient to you” is Defcon 3, really, isn’t it?
I refuse to spend an hour of my one and only precious life-time in a meeting explaining that the packet of sunflower seeds is in the kitchen drawer, topping and tailing it with a 15 minute walk to their site and a 15 minute walk back. Instead I’ve taken them at their word and booked a meeting which makes them do the walking. And I am going to get my former team member to explain to his boss that the way you grow sunflowers is to put the seeds in the ground and water them. You see, this is the thing that annoys me: he already knows how to do it because I taught him how, and the whole thing is a bloody great drama over nothing – so much so that one, single, ten minute phone call sorted it out with my former team member, but his boss “had a meeting to go to” both times I phoned him. Which is how we arrived at “even so”and “any time that’s convenient to you” and the 15 minute walks.
I don’t mind being asked to explain things. But I really dislike being asked to explain myself.
The image is by a photographer called Leisa Hennessy. I am so glad I chose sunflowers as my metaphor.