Friday, March 2, 2012

a matter of principal

My crossing guard boss is the assistant principal at the school.  She's new this year, and I've only ever met her once.  It was early in the school year, and I got an e-mail from her.

"We need to get together next week to go over your goals.  What times do you have available?"

I cheerfully replied, "My afternoons are free, let me know what works best for you."

She responded flatly, "Let's meet Friday morning at 8:30."

Uhm.... oooooKay.

Now, I was fully aware that this was just something she needed to cross off her to-do list.  My goals as a crossing guard, although they take up two pages of text, boil down to, "No one dies or gets maimed in or near the crosswalk during my watch". 

So I arranged to be available to meet with her NOT in the afternoon.  If nothing else, it would be nice to meet the new assistant principal.  I guess that feeling was not mutual.

I arrived promptly and was told I would need to wait.  So I sat in a chair in the office - not the one where the misbehaving kids sit, but the one where the kids who have vomitted and need to go home sit.

Eventually, she showed up.  I rose, said smilingly, "Hi Jen, nice to meet you!".

"Hi.  Come on back", she said without breaking stride towards her office.

Uhm.... oooooKay.

I don't remember much of what else transpired.  There was some clicking of a mouse on her part, some printing of documentation.  I was free to go.  I left with the feeling that she didn't like me, yet she had never met me.  Did I have some reputation that peceded me? 

I mentioned this meeting to a couple of friends who still volunteer at the school, and they assured me, that it wasn't me, it was her.  "She's always like that".

"OH, good!  I mean...  Really?"

A few days ago, I received a summons for jury duty.  Oh joy.  I went to the school staff website and did what I needed to do for jury duty absence.  Still, I thought I should touch base with Jen, to make sure someone covered for me at the crosswalk.  I didn't expect to get any reply.  Most likely, June will cover for me, and one of the substitute crossing guards at the school will cover for June. 

Since I see June each day, except when she goes on vacation without telling me and causes me to lose sleep over her "disappearance", I would just confirm it all with her. 

Lo and behold, the very next morning, I had a reply from Jen.  Not only did she acknowledge me with a "thank you", but she also included a "so much!" for letting her know. 

I'm wondering, maybe she's just one of those people that is better at communicating via written word rather than in person.  Which do you prefer?  Face-to-face or text/e-mail?

Or maybe there's just something suspicious afoot.


terri said...

Interesting. I just had a similar experience with a new client. In our email communications, I felt as if I was being put off. I spoke with my contact for the first time today on the phone and she was ... going to use a word I wouldn't normally use ... delightful!

I think people definitely have a comfort zone in regards to communication. I feel (not surprisingly) that I'm better with the written word. But I hope that if you and I ever have the chance to speak that I don't come off as stand-off-ish!

ShadowRun300 said...

It's certainly easier to be perceived as friendly and happy when you're writing, so if you're not normally an outgoing person, it's a good alternative.
Personally, I like both. All day long I am happy, smiling, outgoing, chatty, so when I get home, I like to sit quietly and 'chat' with you all. It's a nice change of pace!

Judy said...

I am totally a face-time person. Rather converse face-to-face, but I am also perfectly happy with email and text, too. Um, I'm just happy!

Abby said...

Stand-off-ish? You? I can't even imagine it. Trying.....


Abby said...

I agree, it is a nice mix. I think I started blogging because I needed more chat in my life at the time. I've no doubt that you are friendly both in text and face!

Abby said...

I "get" that from your writing! That you're a face-to-facer. Your blog is like stopping and chatting in the peanut butter aisle :).

Scott said...

I definitely communicate better in writing, because I have to time to think--and revise and revise and revise, if necessary. Communicating with someone "live", even by phone, makes me nervous. I tend to stutter, and I often unintentially annoy the other person. And what's more unusual--I communicate far better with strangers than acquaintances. Because strangers, not knowing me, won't judge me; but acquaintances will. And the better I know the person, the more difficult it is for me to communicate face-to-face. Further, to top that off--I'm an accomplished public speaker, and have no trouble at all speaking to a crowd. When speaking to an audience, there is an invisible shield between us, which gives me a sense of security.

CiCi said...

Unfortunately people are so busy they lose the art of social politeness. They just need a little reminder whatever that is that reaches them and brings them back to the land of the living. Meeting in person is so different from email. I personally like both ways to communicate. It takes less time to pop off an email, whereas meeting someone in person takes a few minutes longer. It sounds like the assistant principal was still adjusting to the position and possibly feeling a bit over her head.

Abby said...

I agree, in person is nice, but e-mail is so convenient. I also have some theories on the asst. principal's people skills. For one, the person she replaced was VERY well liked, and a tough act to follow who, not surprisingly, left for a better job.

Abby said...

That's really interesting Scott. I agree that writing gives us a chance to revise and be more clear. I'm glad you found blogging and enjoy it!

Guano said...

They say most communication is nonverbal. I'll know I'm in trouble when Guanowife responds with, "It's the WAY you typed it!"