An assumption, by definition, is “a thing that is accepted as true or as certain to happen, without proof”.
We do it all the time.
We assume the low settings on a toaster will make toast, not burnt offerings.
We assume that when we call our spouse to action, our request becomes just as important to him/her, as it is to us.
We assume the sun will rise (unless we’ve mangled our parents’ car the night before).
This week, I agreed to meet a strange guy in an empty parking lot so I could get $300 cash from him. (Sounds shady, doesn’t it?) I assumed we’d meet in the same parking lot where he introduced his truck door to my car door, but after waiting 10 minutes in said parking lot, he called my cell to see where I was. He was in the other school parking lot. I also assumed he wouldn’t murder me and toss my carcass in the ditch next to the baseball diamond, but I brought along Little Guy as my body guard, just in case.
Sometimes our assumptions are 100% correct, while other times the word “assume” can be more aptly defined as “making an “ass” out of “u” and “me”).
Ned Hickson, humour columnist and author of Humor at the Speed of Life, recently wrote a great guest piece (BeingReal), where he talked about the assumptions people made about him because of his occupation. And it inspired me to draft a list of assumptions that I see getting made based on my job title – Church Office Administrator (or Church Lady for short). I took on this position after enjoying my “retirement” from a large downtown law firm and after being home for a few years with Little Guy. Hubby was right – I needed to go back to work so I’d have more free time. When you’re not working (outside the home), people assume you are looking for things to do!
Here are 10 assumptions I’ve noticed (in no particular order):
Jenn knows everything that’s happening.
It’s true -I am just as knowledgeable as Donna, the thin and sultry assistant to Harvey Specter (Suits), though certainly not as thin and leggy with hair that behaves.
I am the “Gatekeeper”. 99.9% of the time I do know, off the top of my head, what’s happening in the building on any given day, where and when various committees have/will meet, and who said what about how something came about…even the covert, back-room conversations. It’s both scary and exhilarating (I could be an international super spy). The other 1% is what terrifies me because it’s a complete surprise…usually in the form of “I’m surprised you didn’t read my mind” or “surprise – I forgot to tell you…you have to register me for this conference and provide snacks for 250 people, next week”!
Jenn can “look into” that.
If you need directions to the curling club, obscure tax forms, obituaries of someone named “Smith” in the past 2 years, or a copy of the Fire Code – I’m your girl! But it you ask me to find out the BTU rating on a heating unit next to the gym ceiling based on blurry photos and a bunch of random numbers scrawled on a sticky note…I’m going to need some time. GIYF.
Jenn is in the office anyway so…
Yes, Jenn is in the office Tues- Fri, from 9-2:30…usually. Unless Jenn is dropping Little Guy at summer camp and has shifted her hours, or left early to buy pink paper. Jenn starts every week with a “plan” for what has to get done in 22 hours. On a normal week with no additional meetings, funerals, reports or additional projects, or technological failures, I might be able to squeeze in an extra request like letting the plumber in (or giving a hot fireman a tour of the building). But please check with me first.
Jenn is okay with having more than one boss.
I’m pretty sure this assumption helped to drive the last 3 office administrators out, so I have set some boundaries. Just because I’m working in the office doesn’t mean I work for “everyone”. I will gladly listen to your requests and suggestions and will do my best to accommodate them. I recognize that this job requires balance, that sometimes work and ministry overlap. But just because I work in the “family business” doesn’t mean I work for the whole family!
Jenn is a technical genius.
I have some skills. Some of them are related to computers. But genius – not really. I know just enough to be dangerous. I have no problem trying things to see what happens, and I love a challenge. I’m not afraid to get dirty. I can unjam the folding machine, beat the copier into submission, or field most of your hardware and software questions. (When I can’t, I have Hubby on speed dial). Just please, don’t volunteer me again to run the soundboard for a funeral, with a full band and no rehearsal. I’d try but every one would be crying!
Jenn doesn’t mind doing stuff at the last minute.
I am always happy to help. I’m a ministry leader too and I know things can crop up, but when you put things off until the last minute, like asking for a cheque the day before your event…and then get cranky with me because I can’t produce it, I get cranky too. Stuff happens…but try planning ahead. Pretty please.
I can ask Jenn “stuff” whenever she is in the building.
On Sunday mornings, I am not the office administrator, at least not before the service. Like you, I am here to worship. Often, I am here to lead worship. I am slowly perfecting the art of stealth just to get from the door to the washroom to the pew. Sometimes I purposefully show up late to avoid you. After the service, I’m all ears. Please don’t drop things on my desk and then yell at me because I didn’t do them…on a Sunday morning. I don’t drop things on your windshield, and then bust up your bridge game. I could if you’d like me to…
Jenn is so accommodating – she is delighted to drop everything to attend to my needs. It’ll only take a second.
I am always happy to help. I’m always willing to go the extra mile. But sometimes I have to set boundaries and say “no”. It rarely happens. But I’ll warn you – when service means “serve us”, it doesn’t make me feel very good. We need to play nicely together in the same sand box.
Also – it never takes “only a second”.
Jenn isn’t answering the phone – she mustn’t be in.
The week I suffered from dysentery – I was in. The day the pastors stayed home because of the snow – I was in. The day the hydro pole went down so we had no power, and I had to cross the police line to pick up work – I was in. I’m rarely “not in”. That being said, occasionally I’m on the other line (sometimes with stupid people), in the ‘loo’ (because I can’t hold it for 5 1/2 hours), filling the kettle with water for tea (so I don’t get cranky), or answering the door. Sometimes I’m in a meeting or …in all honesty…I don’t want to talk to you. For the fifth time. In a single day. Worst case scenario…I’m in my panic room. (only a select few know what that means and where it is…I prefer to keep it that way)!
Jenn’s hours are so short – she mustn’t have much work to do.
Yes – I work a 22 hour work week (20 when our ladies’ ministry is running) which means I have more than enough to do everyday. That sweat on my brow is not from filing my nails and eating bon-bons. Thank you for your concern.
If you see me chatting with someone, believe it or not, that’s part of my day too. I care about these people, sometimes sharing in their heartaches or rejoicing in their good news. When I assumed this position, I assumed a responsibility to the people as much as the paper work.
I love my job at the epicentre of a circus, in my cubicle of purgatory…but my job would be so much easier if once in awhile, someone assumed the best! Or even better…asked.