"In many disciplines, for the majority of graduates, the Ph.D. indicates the logical conclusion of an academic career." Marc Bousquet

Friday, October 26, 2012

Impending Frankenstorm: Readers, do you have any travel advice?

What is with this monster Frankenstorm? It's supposed to make landfall somewhere along the mid-Atlantic early in the morning on Tuesday. I'm supposed to fly from DC to Boston around 7:00 AM, but I have a pretty strong sense that flight will be cancelled. Regardles of where Sandy comes ashore, travel all along the East Coast is going to be a mess Tuesday and probably for most of the day Monday, too. I can't decide whether (no pun intended) to just wait and see, which could mean missing the work thingie in Boston scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday, or to be proactive and change my flight to, like, Sunday to get in ahead of the weather.

For the work thingie, it isn't absolutely crucial that I be there, but it's a once-a-year thingie and the powers-that-be have said it would be good for me to go -- not so much because I'd contribute anything but because I'd learn a lot about some Petting Zoo people, plans, dynamics, operations, and such. The Petting Zoo covers my travel, but they do request that we keep expenses "within reason." If I change my flight to Sunday, there's going to be a change fee and two extra nights in a hotel, which gets expensive in Boston, plus all the extra meals. It goes from being a $350 trip to closer to $1000 trip.

I'm sure the Big Dolphin would approve the extra expense, but I have the misfortune of having a conscience about such things. I really want to go, but since it's not crucial that I go, can I really justify the extra expense and the hassle to myself?

Meh. Stupid Frankenstorm! Readers, what would you do?

7 comments:

  1. [I]t's a once-a-year thingie and the powers-that-be have said it would be good for me to go -- not so much because I'd contribute anything but because I'd learn a lot about some Petting Zoo people, plans, dynamics, operations, and such.

    Immersing yourself in that kind of information--not to mention the forging of personal connections--can be a *huge* benefit to your professional effectiveness. So I say you should definitely fly up early! Although you should also consider whether there is a chance that the thing would be cancelled.

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  2. I think I'm going to wait until Sunday or early morning Monday to make a decision. Now they're talking about potentially needing to reschedule the whole thing. I'm not the only one flying in. And it's the sort of thing where if 25-50% of the key people aren't there, then there's no point for the rest of us. No point in rebooking and then having to cancel altogether. Stupid Frankenstorm! I was actually thinking it might be kind of fun to be in New England for Halloween.

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  3. The 2 Year Life of the MindOctober 26, 2012 at 6:07 PM

    Sounds like it would have been fun. I'm not sure what your department protocols are, but I would contact my manager and offer the early fly-out option. My goal would be to get the support of someone higher than me as both a learning tool (because later you will be managing people yourself), a second opinion, and an "OK" for the extra expense.

    Then again, they just might cancel the whole thing which would probably solve everything. But it's always good to be prepared. Besides, you could be stuck there and enjoying a New England election day too!

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  4. Oh, I already got all that approval bs out of the way. I'm actually something of a free agent in that respect. I do have a supervisor, but ze, Big Dolphin, is way up the food chain and doesn't like to be bothered with these things. Ze just said "use your judgement, " which is what i expected ze would say, but I don't want to re-book and then have them cancel the whole thing. I don't really want to get stuck up there. The leadership is just being indecisive. They're now saying they're not going to make a call on cancellation until Monday, so it would be stupid for me to fly Sunday and then have them cancel. So we'll see. If they go ahead as planned, presumably it will be because things don't turn out as bad as expected. If anything, probably I'd at least be able to change the Tuesday flight to Monday. I'm sort of at this point expecting cancellation, though.

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  5. Well it sounds to me like you're in a great position either way. Being in a post-ac job where you're trusted to make your own decisions is AWESOME and gives me hope for my post-ac life. Either way, good luck and thanks for sharing!

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  6. Glad to be of some help that way. It's worth noting, though, that different workplaces have differing levels of autonomy and control. My position at the Petting Zoo in this respect is the norm rather than any sort of special privilege. Several of us, in differing places along the food chain, from the DC office are supposed to be going to Boston for this thing. We all got the same answer about travel. We're all pretty much trusted to make our own decisions about such things, as long as we follow the general guidelines for keeping expenses "within reason."

    One thing I've discovered in the almost two years and two jobs I've had since leaving academe is that having a certain degree of autonomy is very important to me, even if it comes with occasional frustrations like this one. When I was first trying to get out of academe, this wasn't even something I'd thought about, and I was applying for a lot of government jobs, just sort of focused on the degree of stability compared to academe they seemed to promise. But I think now, having worked in some places where employees in general have a lot more autonomy, that the level of control, the maze of rules and policies and procedures for doing just about anything, and the layers of hierarchy in a government job would just about drive me batshit crazy. It's a good thing to know about oneself -- what type of work environment you're most comfortable in -- going forward. The fluidity and lack of structure and central control at the PZ would drive some other people I know as batshit crazy as a government job would drive me.

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  7. The fluidity and lack of structure and central control at the PZ would drive some other people I know as batshit crazy as a government job would drive me.

    Yeah, very interesting point. I know that I thrive under circumstances that are both administratively and substantively very fluid and unstructured.

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