And Other Duties As Assigned

I wrote about Donna and treasures like her here the other day. This past Monday NCTCOG staff gave Donna a farewell reception. After Donna having to endure Monte Mercer’s daily assignments, she got to get ribbed before she took the podium. These were her words. I think just about everybody can relate when you apply for a job, interview and then after being hired being reminded you never really explored what “other duties as assigned” entails in your job description. Happy Friday!

By Donna Steward

Thank you all for coming! I’ve had quite an amusing and interesting career for the past 34-1/2 years at COG. I began working in the Regional Services Department (now known as RIS) in 1981. I was only 12 years old! After 10 years in RIS, I moved over to the Regional Police Academy and stayed there for less than a year when I was then hired in the Admin Department by Charles Cason in 1992. I like to think of Administration Department as COG’s 3-ring circus. The staff in Admin work hard for everyone in the agency by jumping through hoops, juggling every departments’ priorities, and we walk a tight rope trying to balance the needs of the agency. There’s a lot of hard work going on in Admin that doesn’t get the recognition that it deserves. Many of you know that I wear two hats in Administration: Procurement of goods and services and facilities management.

In Administration you can come to work thinking of what you plan to do for that day, but then all hell breaks loose and priorities change at the drop of a hat. Then I have to get into crisis mode because the icemaker leaked water all over the floor; mold was discovered, and I have to shut down the entire kitchen and meeting room; a major meeting is taking place and someone set off the fire alarm by burning popcorn so the meeting has to disburse; the transformer is popping and sparking so electricity to the building is totally shut down, it’s dark and the emergency lights aren’t working; a contractor needs access to all the locked closets and no one else has the key; movers need to finish the relocation and all other staff have gone home for the day leaving me there to make sure it all gets done.

There have been rumors of me being in the closet with the electrician, in the bathroom with the plumber or in the storage room with a contractor. Rumors sometimes are just that, but I have been in those places with those people several times throughout the years – discussing electrical, plumbing, janitorial and contractor related issues.

I am going to miss a lot of stuff that goes on around here such as the sleepless nights about whether or not a construction project is going to turn out right or if the multi-thousand-dollar furniture order has the right finish or color or if I have offended someone with an agency email with information that affects the whole agency. I know you’re gonna miss receiving those annoying emails! Especially the ones about turning in your pcard reports on time.

I’m gonna miss contacting building management that someone is cold and turn around and contact them 10 minutes later to say that the same someone is now too hot. I’m gonna miss someone telling me that the Coke tastes like battery acid, which is scary to think that one knows what battery acid tastes like. Or the coffee vending machine dispenses coffee without a cup or that one wishes the trees could be trimmed so they can see out the window when they should be working. But when the tree gets trimmed, ask why the tree was cut?

I’m gonna miss getting the emails to add project codes to copiers and a week later to remove those same codes because they are no longer needed. I’m gonna miss having to close a purchase order that is no longer necessary only to be asked to reopen it because the project wasn’t finished after all. I’m gonna miss emails telling me that some men’s underwear was found in the stairwell and later some women’s underwear outside the elevator. Not sure what was going on there!

I’m gonna miss getting requests to remove a squirrel nest from inside the hood of one’s car or that squirrels have been eating the wires of another’s car. I’m gonna miss hearing about a possible squirrel massacre in the parking lot because there were two dead ones out there. Probably killed by the vehicle owners! I’m gonna miss the complaints that we need to have air fresheners in the restrooms, only to go back and tell building management to remove them all because the smell was making one sick. I wondered how long they stayed in the restroom? I will miss having to ask building management to change out the soap because one didn’t feel their hands were getting clean enough.

I’m gonna miss hearing the complaint that some were getting bitten by fleas in their office only to learn that they had just sprayed for fleas at their home the night before. I’m gonna miss hearing that I’m too hot, and I can’t concentrate on my work and may have to go home. Or that I’m too cold and I can’t concentrate on my work and may have to go home. I’m gonna miss the complaints that someone was cooking fish in the microwave stinking up the entire office and that I need to send an email to tell people not to bring fish for lunch.

I’m gonna miss being asked to tell people to flush the toilet when they finish or to tell them to stop peeing on the seat. I’m gonna miss receiving requests to tell people to wash their hands after using the restroom or to tell them to not use their cell phones while other people are using the restroom or that I need to post a sign in the restroom on proper restroom etiquette. I’m gonna miss hearing about bugs being in the coffee from the vending machine and on the same day receive compliments that the new flavored coffee from the vending machine is really good. Perhaps it was the bugs that made it good!

I’m gonna miss hearing that there are grown men undressing outside one’s office window and then receive comments that they enjoy watching the police cadets running around outside half dressed. I’m gonna miss trying to help someone figure out what size, color or style of logo shirt that I think they should buy. I’m gonna miss being asked to make the workers outside stop their work because they’re being too noisy and people can’t hear what’s going on in a meeting inside. I’m gonna miss being asked to have the landscapers to come back later because the smell of the cut grass is making them sick or that the mowers are bagging the grass clippings instead of mulching them. I’m gonna miss having to get a vendor to adjust a 7-year old chair because it’s been uncomfortable all that time.

I’m gonna miss wondering how the entire door to the microwave ended up on top of the microwave. I’m gonna miss hearing that there’s a screaming cat sitting outside one’s office window or a family of skunks is burrowed in the bushes. I’m gonna miss hearing about the rules of drinking coffee since the agency no longer supplies it for employees. I’m gonna miss hearing about the ants that are marching across desks or wasps or bees swarming inside the office. I’m gonna miss being asked to tell people to stop using air fresheners in their office because some don’t like the smell. I’m gonna miss being asked to tell someone they shouldn’t wear a certain cologne because the smell is making one sick.

I’m gonna miss when someone tells me they want to order 50,000 pens that they need by next week, and I have to do an interrogation. Do you mean PINS or PENS? What brand, color, style, ink, is there a logo imprint, what color logo, is the logo created, can I get a copy? I’m gonna miss telling them that getting pens next week ain’t gonna happen since it has to be bid out and the product comes from China so the next question is what’s your real deadline so I can make this happen for you?

I’m gonna miss being called the COG mom. I’m gonna miss being told that I should be the Director of Whatever You Need. I’m gonna miss those words “go ask Donna.” I’m gonna miss being told that “you’re just like the Wizard of Oz – You make stuff happen behind the scenes. I see all of your emails, but I never see you.”

A lot of people have told me they could not do what I do on a daily basis. As you can see it’s been quite an amusing journey for me, and you have to have a sense of humor to keep your sanity. My secret is to get out for lunch EVERYDAY and unwind. I have bitten my tongue quite a bit over the years, but now that I’m retiring, I can let the holes begin to heal.

But all joking aside, what I’m really gonna miss is all of you. I’ve enjoyed working here for the past 34-1/2 years. I want to tell the newcomers that COG is a good place to work and you can make it what you want it to be. People wonder how I survived this crazy job and I tell them: “I do my job then I switch to my wife, mother, grandmother hat and go home.” Now I’m about to switch to my retirement hat!

My plans are to do some traveling, relaxing and just enjoying life. First stop will be in the words of Gladys Knight “I’ll be on the “midnight plane to Georgia” to visit my new grandson, Charles Joseph, expected to arrive in mid-April.

I want to close with this last thought: “Don’t get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.”

Thank you all for coming!

Donna Steward
Procurement & Facilities Coordinator
Administration Department
10/5/81 – 4/1/16

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