Tuesday, December 21, 2010

an inconvenient death

This is somewhat inspired by FSP's collection of posts today about exam excuses (often family deaths, real or otherwise).

I've had two deaths in the family at times I was scheduled to be in the field. In both cases, I was an important but not totally critical part of the crew.

One death was a grandparent who was 91 and had been battling pneumonia in the nursing home for months. I dealt with the news ok (it wasn't exactly a surprise), but then when I called the project manager to tell him I had to go to the funeral, a bunch of repressed emotion came out and I started bawling on the phone. Manager's response: "Just go to the funeral already! Take off the week! Trust me, I understand."

The other death was of a young (had two small children) relative who was his family's primary breadwinner. We were on a little bit of a death watch, so about 2 weeks before the fieldwork, I explained the situation to the project manager: I told him that there was a very strong chance that I would be taking some time off to attend a funeral/wake in the next couple of weeks and that I would help out as much as much as I could, but that I would be attending the wake and funeral to support the widow. When news of the death came, I called up immediately to arrange things so that the project wouldn't be left in the lurch. The project manager threw a fit about the future absence, I went anyway, and the manager made sure that I never worked for him again.

Did I regret anything I did in the latter situation? Nope.

I work incredibly hard. All my reviews have said "what a team player! So dependable!" I stress out when things go wrong and I go into overdrive to fix them. But it's a job, not my entire reason for existence.

1 comment:

Ogre Lawyer said...

I think this is a point that a lot of people, especially in this economic environment, forget. Our jobs are important parts of our lives, but not our whole lives. There are times when other needs come first.