I am a dumbass

For a whole litany of reasons, I did not have my shit together last semester. Although I was enjoying school (and still am) more than I ever have, I was doing everything I could to keep my head above water. Anything that was the least bit insignificant seemed to fall by the wayside.

One such thing was my job as treasurer of the Family Medicine Interest Group. This is not a huge job, mostly consisting of ordering and paying for the pizza for our monthly meeting. Still, I managed to fuck it up.

Back in September, we had a FP Residency Fair. 26 programs from all over came to set up and recruit, paying $150 each for the privilege. The vice-president collected their checks, put them in an envelope, and gave them to me, the treasurer. I put them in my locker.

And forgot about them.

Fast forward to December, when said vice-president e-mails me to ask if we had ever cashed those checks, because one of the residency programs contacted him and said it had never come through. “Oh, shit,” I said, as I ran to dig them out of my locker and took them to the Credit Union.

The good news was that half of the checks went through without incident. The bad news was that the other half said something like “Void after 60/90 days”, and were thus un-cashable.

This happened right before I left town for an off-site rotation. As soon as I returned, I e-mailed the VP, explaining the situation and asking if he had the contact info for the residency programs so I could get them to cut us another check. He replied in that very formal “I hope you understand that it was very inappropriate for you to…” tone that makes me wish he would just come out and say what he thinks. He wanted to know exactly what programs’ checks didn’t make it through, and he wanted to meet with me and the other officers this week. That meeting is tomorrow.

This is not nearly the big deal I’m making it out to be. It’s going to be a moderate-to-severe pain in the ass for me, and a minor-to-moderate pain in the ass for the involved programs. Life will go on. Still, it’s tearing me up for some reason. I’m going to tell them at the meeting that I want to fix this, get the club’s finances in the best order I can, and then resign my post as treasurer. Even though my life is back on track, I guess I don’t want to do a job at all if I can’t do it right.

No real reason to post this here. I just thought I’d feel better about it after I wrote it all down.

Dr. J

Hi, dumbass!

Look on the bright side, sunshine: at least you didn’t cash the checks and then put the MONEY in your locker and forget about it. I suspect you’d be in a tad more trouble then, especially if someone broke in and stole it. Woo-hoo! There are all kinds of ways you could have REALLY screwed up. What you did isn’t so bad at all if you think about it that way, eh?

You’re being too hard on yourself.

No need to resign. There’s a difference between a fuck-up and being intentionally nefarious. You’ve already admitted there’s a problem. Go fix it. That’s your job, right?

Well, Doctor J, it sounds to me like what you really need is a good chewing out so you can get over feeling guilty for your screw up. Here ya go:

Honestly, Doctor J! What on earth were you thinking? Do you have any idea how inconsiderate it was of you to put off cashing those checks? Now all those people are going to be inconvenienced, and the whole pizza thing could be screwed up. If you want to be a good doctor, you’d better start keeping track of details better, mister.

Now, don’t do it again.


Thanks, everybody. It does sound much sillier after I wrote it down.

Dr. J

You are in no way a dumbass, Doctor J. You’re a fine, dedicated man who’s run off his feet at the moment. At the very worst interpretation, you generously volunteered to take on something that was beyond your time constraints.

Superman was allergic to Kryponite, fercryinoudloud, so cut yourself some damned slack and don’t take on extra guilt.

Know what? Pull a deep breath, straighten your back and “do Spencer Tracy”: plant your feet, look the other guy in they eye and tell the truth. You wanted to help, thought you could at the time, it got away from you, you regret it terribly and take full responsibility.

Those stern faces looking at you were once in your shoes. Most will remember the pressures and realize it’s just paperwork; a bit inconvenient but solvable. Some may be too removed from reality–the underlying purpose–to understand. “Silverbacks” litter any professional landscape, but it doesn’t automatically make them infallible judges either.

(Hackneyed but useful suggestion: no matter what, write each of 'em a personal apology. It’s appropriate and such mundane things can go a long way toward soothing troubled waters.)

(who happens to think Doctor J. is pretty damned spiffy just the way he is)

Just wanted to ask a question–did the bank refuse the checks that were labeled “void after X days”? The reason I ask is because a vaguely similar thing happened in a group I was part of a couple years ago and when the treasurer went to cash the checks, she handed the non-labeled ones to the bank teller and put the others back in an envelope explaining that they were void. The teller then explained to her that the label was actually just a deterrent to prevent people from holding onto checks and that legally, they were still cashable. Essentially, the “void after X days” was not legally binding. Just wondering. Maybe it has changed or something.