Have you ever read a job description while looking for a new position and saw: “And perform other duties as assigned”? That translates to: “I am not sure what other duties this position engages in, so I will leave it open-ended”. While this seems to be common (managers not having a complete understanding of what their employees actually do), it raises a red flag for me. “Other duties”? That sounds like just about anything. Try and tell someone that whatever they asked you to do is not in your job description. You will here: “Last bullet point on your job description: “Other duties AS ASSIGNED” Now calm down and carry on with whatever I just told you to do.” Granted, I was never asked to analyze moon dust (outside of my scope/ job description), but I have been asked plenty of times to do things I thought I should not have been doing.
This post has been a long time coming, but there was always something else that I decided to write about. (Pro tip: Sometimes you are just not meant to write it at that time. Sometimes you should wait, other times you should discard the topic altogether. Pro tip no.2 keep a running list of those topics.) Funnily enough, throughout the past week or two I kept hearing more of the related stories. Now is the time. Here we go.
As you can already tell, this will be mainly about employees going above and beyond their scope of duties. The employees in this case are all police officers. First of all, I would like to say that I respect cops and am grateful for what they do to keep us safe. Second of all, I know they have plenty of things to do as is. If you have been in the workforce for more than a day, you know how busy your job can be. Granted, it might not be all day, every day, but I do not know anyone who had not complained about being busy in their work life.
A 5-year-old boy called 911… to order fast food. “Can you bring me McDonald’s?” – he asked when the dispatcher asked what his emergency was. Before you say that he is just a kid and he did not know what he was doing, keep reading. Naturally, it is the duty of the police to check on the kid to see if he was not in danger. So a cop was dispatched. On his way to the boys home, he stopped and got some McDonald’s for the kid. What if the kid actually was in danger? That couple of minutes wasted at the Drive-through might have made a life or death difference. Once no one answered the door at the boy’s address, the officer knocked on the window only to be told: “My grandma’s gonna be so mad, can you please go away?” So he DID know you should not call 911 for food delivery. Thankfully, the story ended with a happy ending. The grandmother, who was sleeping earlier and oblivious to this whole thing, was awakened, and the kid was counseled on when to call 911 and when not to do it. Do you know how the boy was able to call 911? He supposedly connected a deactivated phone to a wireless network. It seems like kids are born with all the tech knowledge nowadays.
This time around, a 6-year-old boy called 911 to report that loneliness was his emergency. (As I wrote that sentence, I realized it sounded a little bit like a mental crisis situation. Potentially. I will treat it as if it was not, though. While it is appropriate to call 911 for suicidal/ homicidal issues, one should exhaust other avenues first.) The boy reported being upset and needing a friend (911 is not for speed dating, son). Again, like in the example above, the cop had to respond and check on the well-being of the kid. Once he arrived, he was asked if he could be the boys friend. How sweet is that? The officer agreed without thinking twice. The article reports that “Officer White gave the boy a stuffed animal and even tied his shoes for him. The young man also got to sit in White’s patrol car and turn on the lights.” The boy was also promised welfare checks in the future whenever the officer would be in the area.
It is my hope that these two were taught a lesson – not to call 911 for non-emergencies. However, it seems that both of these boy’s whims were indulged, making them think there was nothing bad in what they did. Do they know that cops are often spread thin, and maybe while these boys were tended to, someone was getting shot because the patrolman was not where he was supposed to be?
The last story should warm your heart, because it proves there are good people in the world. A police officer was on his patrol when he spotted an elderly woman struggling with her lawn mower. He jumped out of his car and mowed the lawn for her. A passerby snapped a picture and posted in on Facebook in order to spotlight the act of kindness.
What I am particularly worried about is the after – effect. Sure, the publicity is good (we need citizens to be on the police’s side and not on that of criminals), but what happens when the dust settles? You know what I have been told before when I did some extracurricular activities? “Here is some more work. You can do it. No extra pay available. Go in peace.”, or “Well, if you have time to do all these extra things then you do not have enough to do. We either need you to do more, or cut your hours.” You seem how these are negative responses to positive actions? What do you think the person approving the funding for the police force will say when new budget is being drafted? “We can cut some of the personnel, because they have nothing to do other than mowing people’s lawns.”
Do you feel like your job requires “other duties”?
Are you OK with performing such?
Do you go above and beyond on your own volition?
How far do you go?
What do you think of those thoughtful police officers?
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