Can You Say Incompetence?

Are you tired of the incompetence out there in the world today?  I am.  I have been waiting to hear about an orientation/interview for substituting in my local school district for the last two months.  Orientation sign up on their website was suppose to open on July 26th at 8 am.  I checked the day before just to see if early birds were rewarded, but it hadn’t opened up yet.  I checked again at 6:30 am the day of and again, not open.  I tried at 7:59 am, nothing yet.  So you can imagine my surprise when at 8:00 am, opening day, it still wasn’t up.  The message was the same as it had been:  The orientation registration is full for the current session. Please check our website for the next registration date. Thank you for your interest in employment as a substitute!    I was worried that the district had somehow filled up all the slots ahead of time and all the hours I’d spent filling out the application online and contacting my references, checking to see if they minded me listing them had been wasted time.   I don’t know how many times I tried the website before I finally looked up the phone numbers to the Substitute and HR offices at the district and put in a couple of calls. Wouldn’t you know, I did not get to speak with real people and had to leave voice mail messages at both offices.  I kept getting back on the website every few minutes hoping they were just behind on getting the site up and running.  Around 9:30 am, FINALLY, the sign up page was there.  I signed up and received an email saying that Orientation would be on September 27th and that I would be receiving another email ten days before the event either asking for any missing information from the application I had already filled out (way back in May) or letting me know that they hadn’t heard from all three of the required references I provided (I threw in a fourth, just in case) or that all was good and I could come to the orientation.  The email was to also remind me of what documents I would need to bring along, drivers license, social security card, transcripts and the location of the event.

September 17th came and went – no email.  September 18th came and went – no email.  September 19th came, but I didn’t let it go by without calling the Substitute office to inquire about where my email was.  Side note here:  Remember the two voice mail messages I left back in July?  It took both of those offices over a week to respond to my call!  The outgoing message had even said that they would return my call within 24 to 48 hours, HA!  Ok, so back to last Thursday.  I actually got a real live person without going through any “Press One for…” which was a nice surprise.  After giving my social security number, she pulled up my application and proceeds to ask me a couple of questions.

1)      You have here that you worked at the Such-n-such Church Pre-school, are you still working there? (My thoughts are that I clearly wrote on the application that I worked there from 2008 to 2011, but that I am on their Sub list, however I politely answer.)  “ No, but I am on their substitute list.  I want to work more than the 15 hours a week they can offer.  I still have a good relationship with them.”

2)      You have here that you work for La Leche League, are you still working there?   I respond, “I volunteer with LLL which I have done for over 25 years.  I put that down as unpaid work.  I thought it would be good to show how committed I am and the consistency that I have demonstrated through volunteering.”  She mumbled something that sounded sort of positive.

3)      Is Lucy (not her real name) Reference a friend? (You are not suppose to provide friends or family as references, but when you’ve been a stay at home mom for over 25 years, you don’t have too many professional work related references and this friend who was in the educational field had hired me to watch her kids way back in the day when she went back to work so I thought she’d be a good reference.) So, I cleared that up without too much explaining.  (I didn’t elaborate how back in May when I applied she was just a friend, but at the end of June she became my daughter’s mother-in-law!  Yep, my daughter married her brother’s best friend!)

4)      This Margaret (again not her real name) Reference replied twice but both emails are blank.  (I was glad that I had listed four references instead of the required three.   My thoughts run to the fact that this reference is the Director for above mentioned pre-school, so even if she hadn’t sent in the reference correctly, they should have contacted her when checking on my previous employment.)  I gently ask her if the other three replied correctly and she said, “Yes.”

She then informs me that yes, I am invited to the Orientation and she would be emailing me the following day with the details which she went on to give most of them to me.  Today is Monday.  The email never came on Friday.  I’m hoping it comes today as I realize that she did not give me an address or location.  I’m pretty sure it will be at the District Offices, but I don’t want to assume anything and show up and be 15 minutes away from the actually location.  I will give it all day today and if no email arrives, you can bet I’ll be calling first thing tomorrow morning.

I’m sure she is busy and has a lot of other responsibilities.  Maybe she wasn’t even aware of the website message saying that an email would be sent out 10 days in advance, but she who told me she’d send me an email on Friday and she didn’t do it.  I’m curious to see how many people are invited to the orientation.  If there are hundreds, then I’ll give her some slack and appreciate the fact that she answered the phone last week and handled my questions without needing to call me back at a later time.  Perhaps I am being too hard using the term “incompetence.”   Maybe it is a combination of being overworked and not really caring.

My son worked in the attendance office at his high school in this district for an elective one semester.  He warned me that the women were usually cranky, nice, but cranky.  He described an encounter between one of the office ladies and a teacher.  Teacher walks into the office holding a sheet of paper, looking questioningly at the staff.  “Yes, Ms. Teacher , can I help you?”  “Yeah, this (waving paper) says we need to do what?”  “You need to gather those statistics it asks for.  Did you read it all?  It explains it.” “And how do I get them back to you?”  “You take the stats during third period and fill out the paper and get a student to return it to us during third period.  Did you read it?  It explains it.”  “Oh, ok, thank you.”  She leaves and the office staff groans and gives each other the eye rolls.  If a teacher can’t take the time to read instructions, what is she teaching her students?

I went back to the website just to see what it says now.  Same message:  The orientation registration is full for the current session. Please check our website for the next registration date. Thank you for your interest in employment as a substitute!    They do have a new orientation sign up date listed in December.

You know what next Monday’s employment post will be about!  Hopefully, I’ll have nothing but good news and will be on my way to subbing in the local elementary school.  I hope I don’t get too busy to keep up my blogging.  We shall see …

Wish me luck in case the orientation is more like an interview.  I’m a little rusty on interviewing.


Every day brings a new opportunity.  Now that I have vented about the incompetence I have encountered, I will try to appreciate those around me and start each day with a new attitude.



  1. The bad news is that they don’t know what they’re doing. The good news is that they don’t know what they’re doing – and you’ve just pulled an end run n them. You may be the only one at the orientation and, thus, the only one in contention for the jobs…. Good luck to you.

    1. Good point, maybe I will be the only one there! Thanks for the good luck wish. I’ll be reporting back next week, stay tuned …

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