Beki Grinter

Memorial Day: Reflecting on Service

In academia, academic management on May 30, 2011 at 5:56 pm

Today is Memorial Day in the United States. It is a holiday and a time to reflect on and thank all those who have served in the armed forces and the sacrifices that they have made. Thank you. It is also one of a few national holidays that the United States has and observes (yes, there are holidays in the U.S. that the post-office take, but that I do not get to observe–instead I get some “days” to spend–I’ve never quite understood it, but it seems to me to be somehow rather American to call something a holiday and then not take it).

Today was also the third day in a row that I have worked. Not necessarily all day, but Saturday, Sunday and Monday all contained work matters that I needed to respond to. First, to all those who created them, please don’t worry or take this critically. You are collectively the best part of my working life.

Once again I was reminded how my work is in caught in a web of dependencies. I can not easily decide to stop working even on an observed National holiday because it would also require others to stop working. How can I expect someone who has a deadline of tomorrow to not want to send me materials for review or comment? What about a paper to read for an upcoming deadline? Perhaps the deadlines that drive this are the unreasonable part, but scheduling anything that involves the participation of 100’s of people is hard to schedule, so there’s probably also a reason why one of these deadlines is tomorrow and another a few days later. And then of course, there are just those days when inspiration strikes and it seems to be a time of creativity, one for which I am a sounding board.

So I worked because I do not completely chose my schedule or time, I think some of it is caught in a series of responsibilities to others.

Now I shall return to my holiday, and make time to reflect on the other type of service.

 

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