November is Falling Expectations – descriptive month names
The translation of the Czech month name November is “Falling Leaves“. Curiously in warmer Croatia the same month name goes to October. So at the beginning of the month i was thinking of things in a falling theme and sadly i was having a new intimacy unravel badly and what was clearly falling for me was my expectations of what was possible (oh, yes there are lots of personal things i dont blog about). What i have written about in the most recent past have been my predictive month name choices, but this is actually a smaller fraction of the months i name.
Shal, who is an active hammocks general manager, has been out sick for the last couple of weeks. This has helped me drop my expectations about the amount of my “regular” work i am going to get done. After commenting in two different groups 2 days ago how much i loved and missed labor assigning, my co-teacher at Pegasus School, Bochie got deathly ill and asked me if i would fill in for him as a labor assigner. And with this my expectations of calling back customers and setting up this new satellite hammock shop dropped even further as the huge job of labor assigning gobbled up my day.
And i love labor assigning. It is crazy complicated, with hundreds of possibilities and dozens of conflicting and complimenting priorities. Is it more important for this member to work on Emerald City Wood (where we make our hammocks stretcher and hanging chair frames) or should they pack seeds for our growing wholesale seed business? Should i reschedule this personal date with this largely unavailable person, so they can have the child care shift that they asked for and has only one possible slot?
Beyond these many choices, there is the possibility to tweak peoples lives. This visitor who i quite like could be assigned this chatty work shift with the member of the membership team who i think this visitor is most likely to have trouble with them, because in this environment i think the visitor will shine and the membership team person will see that. What about this other attractive visitor who several people say they want to work or play with, should i make the numerous changes needed to make these likely flirtatious encounters happen? [If you know me at all, you know i made the changes so these work and social dates could happen].
For every interesting labor assigning choice there are a dozen mundane assignments to be made (over 40 kitchen cleaning shifts, dozens of people scheduled to garden, and perhaps 50 requests for meetings small and large to deal with all manner of community business or social life). Even so, being reminded of our collective complexity, getting an update on the things people are spending their time on – especially the members who i like but dont spend much time with – all this is satisfying.
When i first came i thought “we should computerize this system”. It currently takes a person about 20 hours each week to coordinate all this labor assigning. Presumably a computer could do it all much faster, right? Probably not. There are endless exceptions and rules for many assignments. Plus the dynamic nature of relationships (before Falling Expectations i would be thrilled to get a K shift with this new intimate, now we are struggling to talk). And of course some labor assigners are on top of the gossip and community dynamics and others assign things, which the members then choose to “req out of” which means they cancel the assignment before it is finalized. It would take more time to computerize the system than it would save, because of the tremendous exception handling needed and dynamic assigning.
The labor assigning system here is fairly amazing. Hundreds of jobs get covered every week. Every week some of the key people who do many jobs are gone and finding a replacement for them is non-trivial. And yet we have reached this comfortable orchestra size in which people can be sick or away for weeks and months and it still all basically hangs together.
Shal was saying he felt badly about my burden being increased because of his illness and i brushed off his regret saying simply “this is why we live in community”.