When Disaster Strikes

Last week, I was printing out the weekly roster for my staff when all of a sudden a handful of ominous, and very annoying, “Error” messages popped up on my screen. Before going into panic mode, I quickly pushed the multiple “Send Error Report” buttons in hopes that it would fix what I thought at the time was an approaching catastrophe.

Unfortunately, this quick fix didn’t do the trick. My computer then froze, and refused to start back up. How was I going to be able to do anything if my brightly lit screen of a friend wasn’t able to help me? See, as I’m sure many of you who are reading this know, our computers are probably one of the most useful tools we use when it comes to our jobs as student affairs professionals. While most of our jobs concentrate on working with students, it would be hard to look up the prices of a petting zoo for a program, run a roster of students, or watch random YouTube videos with students (yes, this happens a lot in my life) without a computer and internet.

Because it is such a crazy time of year with Community Assistant (CA) selection, occupancy verifications, open transfers, job search, preparing for NASPA, and anything else that can fit into the daily schedule, my first thought was to panic. After that passed, I quickly went in the opposite direction and thought “Phew, maybe I won’t have to work today.” Ha! How that was just a passing thought in my mind, only to be interrupted by my boss calling my office to ask me to look something up. When I told him my computer had just crashed, he said, “Well, time for Plan B!” and hung up. Quickly, I had to go to plan B, because the day wasn’t going to stop just because I didn’t have a computer (I know, I’m a little selfish…).

So I got up and left my office. And I wandered. I walked around my building; something I try to do often, but hadn’t done in awhile. I met students that had just transferred and moved in. I reconnected with students that I hadn’t seen in awhile. I caught up with the amazing custodians and facility guys, I am so lucky to have them working in my building.

I then decided to turn in some paperwork into the operations center in the building next to mine. It was then that I was able to connect with some of the Community Assistants that are always doing such amazing programs. I also caught up with some more of the facilities guys who lovingly told me the stories of how they met their wives, and how after 40 or 50 years, they still love them dearly. I then connected with Richard, our incredible and hilarious IT guy, who chatted with me for a while about campus politics and connections I could make on and off campus. After deciding he would have to take my computer for the night, I had about two hours of work left, and decided to help my CAs make posters and talk with residents in the lobby.

While some may see this day as one that was just procrastinating work, I believe it was true professional development. As I have blogged about in previous entries, I am not able to access many professional development funds. For once I wasn’t required to rely on my computer, rely on technology, but rather given the opportunity to really go out and reconnect with those I work with. It is always something I want to do, but as some of you may know, a day can be over before we know it, and certain things get pushed to the back burner.

It was also reiterated to me that day how important it was to not take all of the paperwork and emails so seriously. It helped me refocus on why I was in the field and in what ways I could go out, help others, and support those who support me each day.

What would it take for you to refocus? 

Katie Ericson

Student Affairs - the First Years

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