Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Death by 1000 papercuts

I have just been offered a tremendous opportunity. I have been in discussions with the director of a large facility to do some work for me. We've bounced a few ideas and thoughts back and forth and now it turns out that the facility will perform a pilot project for me if I send them the samples I need worked on. Did I mention that they are going to do this for free, which will save me a good chunk of change? My reaction was "Email me the address and I will have them out in the morning!" 

So, I go down to the office to ask for a package slip to fill out. Nope, can't do it that way. We have no account with FedEx (WTF!?) and all UPS shipments go out through central post. Okay, can it happen overnight? Probably not, but it's hard to say because it depends on the timing and how long it sits. Basically, what I found out was that sending something that needs to get somewhere off campus the next day is almost impossible unless I do a lot of the leg work and take my package across campus myself. I'll likely have to pay for it myself and get reimbursed (not clear yet if I can use my Pcard, but it's not looking good). 

How is this possible? Of all the things I have to do in a day, can't shipping a package be handled by paid staff? Seriously? I have to micromanage the mail now? Dude. Fuck! Sigh. 


  1. I wonder if most institutions realize how much of their policies and procedure hinder/impede/flat-out stop the work that we do for things as simple as purchasing or shipping out fragile samples.

  2. I never even try to go through the office for overnight stuff...just schlep over to the post office on the way home and pay for it myself.

    (Just out of curiosity, how's that Pcard working out for you? Was it worth the 500 Powerpoint slides?)

  3. Because of the nature of what I am sending, it is MUCH easier for me to send it through work. I think I've figured out how I can schedule a pick-up on my side of campus.

    The Pcard is mildly useful and not as big of a hassle as I thought it might be. It turns out that the person who handles my accounts does most of the paperwork for the card, so I basically just have to provide receipts and sign off. A rare instance where there was less work than anticipated.

  4. Sorry to hear about your mailroom woes. They took away our postage meter and all mail now has to be adorned with a special bar coded sticker specific to each project/account. Woah.

    Except for department chairs, it is extremely rare at my university for faculty to have their own Pcards. All purchasing (like the mail) goes through the staff.

  5. It's amazing what is "impossible" on a university campus, isn't it? People are doing all sorts of amazing things, but shipping a package over night is unheard of :P Good luck!

  6. Dude. seriously! How can paid staff deal with these issues when they have spend most of their day explaining to faculty how they can't help because they're busy explaining to faculty why they can't help!

    I think the only way I get anything done is by not working 9-5...

  7. Yes, the irony of people doing cutting-edge science that can't send something across the street through the campus mail in less than three days, is not lost on me.

    Crap, it's my turn to peddal the bike that keeps the lights on in this building.