NS: Despatch Disaster

Note: Originally published on Sep 3, 2012
Background: My clerical tasks include making trips to various locations to deliver and receive military-related items. My office’s arrangement is to tag along a routine despatch bus. With “rival” NSFs and a snappy despatch driver, time is of the essence.

It’s a frustrating thing when you are asked of too much and given too little.

That’s the problem I constantly face in my despatches. Too many things needed to be done in the time I legitimately have, which is always dependent on the despatch bus driver’s own schedules. Today it reached epic proportions. My workload was double that of the last time I had a little reprimand for taking too long. I sensed the inevitable, yet hoped the improbable. In the end, I held the bus back for over half an hour before it left, still without me.

That last time, I knew I had fault in allowing the clerks to take their own time. This time, the clerk was focused and didn’t stop working on my 11 orders. Yet the clock ticked and I realized that even with things running smoothly, each took about 5 minutes. Eventually, the whole despatch took about 1.5 hours, owing to 3 unclear or problematic orders, and I was made known of the driver’s fury within an hour of it. I must admit I felt annoyed as much as helpless. The workload is unrealistic given the time, and is further compounded by faulty orders I could not remedy.

I might just have allowed myself the time to stay disgruntled. But right from the start, two points were clear to me. First was that the driver was rightly angry. Second was that I should have been forefront about it and tried to avert the testy conclusion to the day. I knew it was going to take record duration, but I didn’t take pre-emptive action. I could have consulted my superior, maybe leaving some orders for another time. I could have told the bus driver to leave first. I didn’t. The situation I was put in was frustrating, but I have to admit my tentativeness made it worse.

I’m not going to hate despatches forever. I just have to be more vocal and seek understanding from both parties. I didn’t mean to, and they know I don’t mean to, but I can’t just leave things hanging. That’s something to learn.

This is just me. I don’t like to challenge authority, even though I question them quietly. I stay mum too long. I incur anger and judgment. I know I’m not fully at blame, or even mainly at blame, but still I feel the brunt of the blame.

This reflection was useful, because I better managed the expectations of both parties – driver and superior – thereafter. Knowing my predicament, the driver proposed that I drop at the site of most work – I often have work at 2-3 places – and pass the rest to other bus mates. Yet this meant a higher likelihood of error.

I chose to communicate the arrangement firmly to my superior, who has little tolerance for errors. The alternative was more frequent trips, but all them DXOs are against it. She eventually accepted it and, on occasions when deadlines meant no margin for error, sent a colleague along with me.

Problem resolved!

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