the fastest way to helpers’ fatigue is to pull 7 all nighters

the lamb was dry.

frankly after an 11 hour day of trying to carrel people, a dry lamb chop was enough to bring her tears. she was very conscious about being so emotional. and she was emotional every moment of every day. her emotionalism ranged from hysterical crying fits to momentary screaming matches with things as miniscule as the snap on her messenger bag to her boss. lucky for her david was secretly in love with her (although he was gay) and took her mood swings in stride.

‘really darling you have to see someone about all this screaming and crying. its just not a good look for you.’ he counseled her earlier that day. she had just finished berating her team for missing yet another deadline in front of him. one girl, an intern she didn’t like, began to cry in the middle of the meeting. she could honestly say that it was only after the tears started to flow that she truly had the taste for blood.

‘how dare you have the audacity to cry in the middle of a goddamn meeting!’ she’d screamed at the girl who couldn’t have bee more than 23 if she were a day. ‘this is work! this is not a parade! this is not some goddamn romance drama where you don’t know if the boy will get the girl! you’re not at a fucking movie! get. your. shit. together.’

at that point the girl was hyperventilating and miranda her project assistant walked her from the room. she wanted to fire the girl but knew that firing someone for crying in a meeting would only get her into a legal battle and human resources was not putting up with anymore of her foolishness. she just needed everyone to be on point and keep up with the overflow.

composing herself, she took several deep breaths and began again, ‘please explain to me why we have missed this deadline.’

andre was the self appointed speaker for the group. although he was the most junior member outside the intern. she believed the only reason andre spoke up was because in all other manners he was…incompetent.  she’d tried him on every team in the three years that he had worked for the organization. he had spent time as a project assistant, editorial associate, customer service representative. hell she would have put him in the mailroom but sadie had already told her under no circumstance would she allow him in her space. so the only task he could do with any competence  was public speaking. it was also the only task the others trusted him to do. so he stood up.

‘we were unclear about the expectations for the project. stacey took over as manager at the last minute because lucas went on fmla. no one wanted to tell you that before lucas left he had not distributed any of the project elements. because of his delay no one was aware of their responsibilities until stacey took over. we have been meeting day and night in an effort to get the very best results for nlva and we really believed we would be able to make this morning’s deadline,’ looking around the room she searched their eyes one by one and realized he was telling her the truth. they looked haggard and disheveled. she was beginning to wonder if anyone had left the building the night before. ‘yesterday at noon stacey called nlva and informed them that we needed to push the deadline back another day. mr. mccaulin was not happy about the change and demanded to speak with you. we knew you were out of the office and did not want to disturb you with something we really believed we could handle. when mr. mccaulin came in last night we showed him our progress and that was when david came in.’

she turned to scowl at david. his expression was placid. he opened his hands in an act of surrender, ‘mr. mccaulin was displeased that the deadline needed adjustment but he was very pleased with the work our team committed to. i personally was amazed that even though it was 6:30 when he left not one of the team here left. everyone stayed to keep the project on task and in order. they worked extremely well together and i think that you should be very proud of the ethic and due diligence that put into this, after all lucas allowed this to sit on his desk for more than 4 weeks waiting approval for his family medical leave. ‘no veteran left alone’ would have been without a marketing plan or grantwriting proposal without this team. as a result of this group’s efforts nvla is one step closer to being a viable nonprofit.’

she really wasn’t a bitch but after listening to david defend them she felt like one. she felt like one colossal bitch. she never should have paired lucas with nlva. she knew he was planning on taking leave after his wife was diagnosed with lukemia. she was thinking at the time that it was a small project and he would be able to handle it especially given that everyone was willing to work with him to make it happen. she should have known he was too preoccupied with his wife’s illness and caring for their son to be over any project. leaning forward she rubbed her hands over her face.

miranda walked back in the room holding a pitcher of water. walking over to her boss, she poured her a glass. miranda whispered in her ear that the intern (claudia was her name) was feeling better and was manning the phones while they finished the meeting. for the 1,000th time since she’d met miranda she thanked God for sending her into her life. looking at her watch she realized it was now 10:45 am. they had been meeting about not meeting a deadline for over an hour. she had called the meeting minutes after arriving and listening to the frantic voicemail from mr. mccaulin. they had stopped what there were doing in order to give her the update and listen to her yell at them for not getting the work done and worst for keeping her out of the loop.

stacey finally spoke up, ‘we really didn’t want to keep this from you. we just thought we could handle it ourselves. we really thought we could get it done and no one would have be fired.’

she gasped, ‘is that what you thought?’ looking around the table they were all nodding their heads or mouthing the word yes. ‘who did you think i would fire?’ she wondered.

‘lucas.’ they said in unison.

‘so you all worked day and night all week to save lucas’ job?’

‘yes,’ they replied.

‘you all worked together stayed here all night because you didn’t want lucas to loose his job?’ she wanted to know.

‘yes,’ miranda told her. ‘lucas has a lot going on with his family. he needs this job without it he won’t be able to cover marga’s treatments.’

quietly she told them, ‘lucas is not in fear of losing his job.’ she went on to explain to them, ‘you all have heard me say this one thousand times this firm is in the business of helping those who help others. we’re the-‘

‘helpers helper,’ they finished her sentence.

finally she smiled, ‘so if we are helping others so that they can help somebody else wouldn’t it stand to reason that helping each other would also be a part of the job?’ she waited a moment for them to think about her words. looking across the wooden conference table she took another minute to take in her staff – there was andre who was incompetent but passionate she believed he was a diamond in the rough if only she knew the right kind of pressure to apply to help him shine. then stacey, the powerhouse, no matter what she was thrown she caught it and kept it on track. miranda who’s heart was bigger than any check the firm could write which made her extraordinarily good at being able to screen the true helpers from the opportunists. sadie who’s title was mailroom supervisor but in reality she managed the office. there was no nook or cranny sadie didn’t have intimate knowledge about and the know how to fix. michael was quiet but steady, he understood numbers and kept all them all in order. and lucas who was absent was a born leader. lucas was the only one who had been at the firm when david offered her the job. this team she had hired was built around him, his strengths and knowledge. this is why they were all natural compliments to one another. together they had taken a little firm and made it a star. everyday she was grateful for the people she worked with and the jobs they were able to accomplish together.

leaning back in her chair, she exhaled, ‘when does mr. mccaulin expect the project to be complete?’

‘he gave us until tomorrow morning at 11. he said he and his board president will be in to meet with all of us at that time,’ miranda answered.

‘but if we get back to it, we’ll be done before 2 pm. we only have one rewrite and a few editing tweaks to go,’ stacey told her.

‘will that take everybody?’ she asked.

‘well…sadie got the equipment going. so that’s set. and miranda was leading with the edits. i was finishing up the rewrite. i think i have another hour of work to do on that and then andre will get the printing handled.’ stacey could always be counted on.

‘ok.’ she stood up. ‘what i would like to do now is have you all go home for a shower, a meal and to make sure the people who love you still live in the same house you left them in a week ago.’ they gasped. ‘please come back by 2. WE will finish this tonight. miranda leave me the edits.’

although she was headed toward the conference room door, no one got up to leave. she knew they were going to protest but she just didn’t have the energy to listen, ‘you heard me. get out of here before i change my mind and get you started on the medical center’s proposal.’

that got them going.

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