Sunday, March 25, 2007

Shout-out to a Stand-up

I frequently remind my co-workers, without irony, that our spouses and families subsidize the work we do in NGOs. They, in fact, subsidize our NGOs. Often, it's a spouse's higher salary that enables us to continue to work in a notoriously underpaid sector. And always, the overtime we spend in this odd line of work, the tedious evening banquet dinners, the weekend conferences, the time out-of-town, these are times our spouses and children and pets spend without us. Because work needs us. Because the cause - whatever it might be - needs us.

We are entering what I call "Hell week" (the last week) of "Hell month" (March). March 31st is fiscal year-end, and every penny of funding must be spent, accounted for, and not over-spent. For a lot of reasons I won't bore you with - but most of which revolve around staff turnover, and my being the only person in the organization right now who has been there more than one year, hence all the new kids are constantly coming to me for help - it's the worst "Hell month" I've experienced to date and I am not looking forward to "Hell week". I have worked five out of the last six weekends.

And after ten years of marriage, Husband has a lot of experience in dealing with Hell month.

So indulge me while I give him a big public shout-out and a pat on the back. He is such a support and help to me. In the beginning, like most spouses of NGO employees, he tried to help by rebelling against the excess demands. "Tell them you can't work this weekend again! That's insane!"

Well, he was right. It was. Unfortunately, the result of this well-meaning intervention is adding guilt to the pressure - you really can't say no to work at certain times (you all know what I mean), so you only feel a) stressed by the work demands b) guilty for the time away from family and c) stupid for allowing yourself to be so abused that your family are upset.

Instead, the reality is, what NGO employees need from their families - what all employees need at times of high demand and stress - is patience. The spouse who can recognize that "this, too, shall pass" and who says, "I am here to do whatever I can do to help. Just ask. I'll put up with the lonely weekends. For a little while, 'cause there's an end in sight." is worth his or her weight in gold.

Today is Sunday and I got to spend the whole day with my Husband. And he's worth his weight in gold.




Blogger Xtreme English said...

You're probably way too young to remember how excited we all were when the computer age dawned: "Four-day work weeks are here at last!" Ha. Instead, the bosses laid off 3/4 of the workers and gave the extra work to whoever was left. Those lucky folks then got to work 50 and 60 hours a week--and it's still going on.

End of the fiscal year madness happens, however. That's life for a gummint worker. Any chance after it's over that you can take a 4-day weekend and go someplace warm and fun with your husband? He deserves a break. And so do you for being so generous with the newbies.

Wot's an NGO? (More of this wonderful 'Merkin sophistication)

1:17 p.m.  
Blogger ronnie said...

Any chance after it's over that you can take a 4-day weekend and go someplace warm and fun with your husband? He deserves a break. And so do you...

Oho! Just Watch This Space. There is something very special in the works in April.

NGO = Non-Governmental Organization. Fancy shorthand for what we used to call a "non-profit organization" or "charitable organization". Mine's an organization made up of multicultural and immigrant-serving groups across our province. We support them and provide a collective voice to gummint on issues surrounding such things. Big deal since (unlike our neighbours to the South) we are cryin' out for immigrants here and doin' everything we can to attract and keep 'em.


9:28 p.m.  

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