Thursday, February 28, 2008

Confessions of a unilateral gesturer

Forgive me, business office, for I have sinned.

I have sent flowers to a colleague--using departmental funds!--even though no one died.

The colleague in question stepped in to fill a difficult situation last semester, teaching four classes for very little pay while passing her comprehensive exams and preparing to have her first child. Then last month when she gave birth to a bouncing baby girl after 53 hours of labor (!) followed by a C-section (!!), my department decided that flowers would be appropriate.

I now know that it is not permissible for departments to "independently and unilaterally" send flowers, but I did not know that last month. I was not born Department Chair, nor did I ever receive any formal training in proper procedures re: sending flowers, and it never occurred to me to wonder whether sending flowers might be perceived as a subversive act. I just thought that someone who had worked as hard as our colleague and then labored so hard in the delivery room had earned a little congratulatory pat on the back.

Silly me.

Sending flowers, I have been told, is the privilege of the president's office, which sends flowers primarily when someone has died. In all other cases, sending flowers does not qualify as a business expense because it is a "personal gesture." (Not at all the type of personal gesture another colleague referred to yesterday when he offered to direct some personal gestures toward the business office.)

Now that we have all been informed of the folly of making independent and unilateral personal gestures, we have agreed to comply with the business office's request that we reimburse the college $36.38 forthwith.

I just hope the business office doesn't mind pennies.

1 comment:

Bardiac said...

My department has a social fund; we all contribute (well, we're all asked to, and the amount asked depends on one's employment status; it's modest even for TT folks), and use it to buy flowers for good and sad occasions, along with cards and such. Maybe you could look into something like that? (I think TT folks give $10? Non-tt give $5.)