This bit’s friends only, because it contains a bit too much identifying information.
One of the reasons I’ve been too busy to post anything lately is that all my good intentions of not taking on anything extra this year, and of just having a quiet life and looking after myself, kind of collapsed when I got taken out for lunch last week.
It started innocently enough. Helen (who’s reasonably senior in the union, holding a national position) rang me up and suggested we have lunch. That’s normal enough – we’ve worked together on the local branch for years and are good enough friends that a spontaneous invitation for lunch or coffee is a reasonably common occurrence. But when I got to her office, she mentioned that Megan (the branch president) would be joining us too. Again, not *too* unusual, as Megan used to be in my department, so we’ve known each other for years and again we’re friends enough that getting together for lunch isn’t unusual. And of course Megan and Helen work closely together in the union, so have developed a friendship too. But both are very busy women, so them both just coincidentally being free for lunch on the same day did get my antenna up a little.
When we got to the cafe and Megan announced the union would be paying for lunch, the tinkle of alarm bells turned into a clamour. I’d seen this “tag-teaming” tactic before. In fact, that was how Megan got talked into running for branch president, when Helen, Gaby and I tag-teamed her over coffee. And I wasn’t just getting coffee shouted for me, I was getting lunch!
Anyway, to cut a long story short (they of course knew that I knew that they were going to ask me for something, but they cruelly dragged it out for half of lunch!), what they wanted to talk to me about was to actually a fantastic opportunity. Because there’s a huge restructuring going on at the moment (thankfully not affecting my department), and because the union has taken the university to court so many times over its failure to properly consult with staff (the obligation to do so is written into our collective agreement), the university is doing this restructuring by the book, to the extent that the union has been offered release time to free key union personnel from their normal jobs to talk to affected members and prepare submissions on the changes. Helen and Megan had been given two days a week to do this union work, but Helen is about to go on maternity leave, so they needed someone to take up her two days a week. And they thought of me!
So from now until about June when the restructuring will be completel, I’ll be spending three days a week in my department doing my normal job, and the other two days in the union offices writing submissions and having meetings with the senior management of the university! It’s very exciting (and a bit scary – what if I’m not as good at this stuff as they think I am?), and who knows what getting my name known in the corridors of power might lead to?
Oh yeah, and I got a new title to go with the job, too. Because when you’re talking to important people, having a title that pretends you’re an important person too kind of helps (it shouldn’t, of course, but it does). So I’m now the Branch Vice President.
But you can just call me VP 🙂