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Negotiations Will Resume After Lunch

, , , , | Learning | CREDIT: -Whatever— | July 28, 2021

I’ve worked in K-12 education technology for most of my twenty-plus years in my professional career. When I first started, I was the only technician for a small/medium school district of 2,500 or so students. The Director of Special Education was married to the superintendent. I reported to the business manager who used to teach technology but was not a technical person. For the most part, I was left to do my work and was not micromanaged. I got into a habit of taking my lunch whenever I felt like it or even not at all. If I didn’t take lunch and there was no pressing work, I would just leave a little early at the end of the day. Of course, I made sure all the schools were out before I left.

As time went on, I got in trouble for leaving early, so I would take my lunch whenever time permitted; sometimes it was when there was only an hour left from work, sometimes not. But I would chill at my desk and just screw off. The others in the office reported me for screwing off every afternoon. When I tried to explain to the business manager that I was taking my lunch, she said something to the effect of, “You can no longer take your lunch whenever you want; your lunch is from 12:00 to 1:00.”

No problem, message received. So, starting that day, no matter what I was doing at 12:00, I would stop what I was doing and take my lunch. If I was at my desk, I would screw off. If I was at a school site, I would go sit in my car.

Fast forward a month or two. At about 11:30, the Director of SPED calls and says his computer is not working and I need to come fix it right away. I say sure thing and get on my way. When I get to his office, he asks me to fix it and heads off to a meeting. I start in on removing all spyware he has managed to collect. About a third of the way through, 12:00 hits. I stand up and walk out of his office and tell his secretary I’ll be back in an hour.

Out to my car I go, expecting a phone call any minute. Sure enough, about fifteen minutes in, I get a phone call from the business manager.

Business Manager: “I hear you walked out of the SPED Director’s office without fixing his computer.”

Me: “Correct. It is my lunchtime.”

Business Manager: “What do you mean? You couldn’t fix his computer first?”

Me: “I could have, but you told me that I could not decide when my lunch break was and that I had to take lunch from 12:00 to 1:00.”

Business Manager: “Wait, that’s not what I meant.”

Me: “But that is what you said. If I stayed and worked on the computer and took my lunch at 1:00 or 1:30, I did not want to get in trouble for screwing off when I was supposed to be working.”

Business Manager: “Okay, I’ll call you back.”

She called back about fifteen minutes later asking me to please go back in and finish the computer. She said that from then on, I could decide when the best time was to take my lunch. It was never talked about again. It was nice being able to go home early when I didn’t take my lunch again.

This story is part of our Best Of July 2021 roundup!

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