We have monthly staff meetings at my new job, for our section of 6 people. We're fairly close-knit, so at first I was shocked and horrified by the amount of time allotted to each one: 3 hours, in fact, were given over to the first one I attended.
Hey, remember the panicmonger? I do, sort of. The panicmonger held staff meetings every other week. God help me! how I dreaded them. It got worse after Robbie left, because he and I used to sit next to each other, barely (or not) containing the occasional snicker or smart-ass remark, and greatly bolstering one another's courage. After he was gone, the "pointless fish meetings," as Robbie christened them (for reasons I don't have time to go into right now (but they are excellent reasons)) became much more depressing. Perhaps the worst part of all was that, in addition to hating the meetings and the lavish displays of negativity and mistrust therein, one had also to feel terribly sorry for the poor panicmonger, who, it was agonizingly obvious by this time, just had never figured out something very, very, very fundamental about how to be.
On the bright side, I hear she's pretty much given up staff meetings at this point. But I digress.
Staff meetings at the new job are not agonizing at all, for two important reasons: (1) nobody is looking to blame anybody for anything, and (2) nobody is admonishing anyone for the eight hundred thousand million billion bajillionth time to send time-off requests only via GroupWise reminder notes, NOT calendar appointments, because the panicmonger didn't want her calendar blocked, although she could simply accept an appointment and select the "not busy" option, of which I suspect she is probably unaware; but no, they have to be reminder notes, and be sure to copy your lead worker, and put the time you'll be leaving, the amount of time you'll be out, the kind of leave you're taking, and your name in the subject line, but DON'T use your whole name because it makes the subject line too long and the whole thing won't show up in the panicmonger's calendar when she mouses over it and it will confuse her, so if you have a long name just use your initials, unless you have the same initials as someone else which will also confuse her, in which case you should find some understandable but concise way to shorten your name for her convenience, oh and don't forget to log all your activities in the tracking program and send in a weekly status report and send in a monthly status report and also be sure to sign in and out of Scotland Yard.
Hey, remember Scotland Yard? I don't.
Anyway, staff meetings at the new job do run a bit long, but the reason for this is that they're extremely chatty - a luxury for which everyone is generally too busy unless they've specifically set aside some guilt-free time away from their desks. So our section director gives us an update on what's going on "upstairs" - a real update, too, intelligent and analytical and confidential and, frankly, a little gossipy - and then we take turns going around the table and talking about what we're working on, what kind of issues we've run into, what we're feeling good about, and what we find frankly so boneheaded that we need to spend ten minutes rolling our eyes and groaning in a most satisfying and convivial fashion.
And since we're all in it together, maybe in the next month or two I'll be able to convince them that these otherwise very agreeable staff meetings must be timed not to interfere with my rightful three-martini break. Because they may not snore while walking or have three heads apiece or need information carefully fed to them on a very, very, very, very tiny spoon, but they're still state employees, by God.
Some things shouldn't change.