Sunday, January 20, 2019

Side Stepping Rules



A parent has irritated three people at the field house regarding chairs in the gym.  This is a continuation of issues I brought up in my last post.  In this instance, a parent made the mistake of becoming comfortable with overstepping bounds just because they're friendly with the person who is running the program their kids are participating in.

Chairs were moved from the auditorium down to the gym.  The parent who moved them claimed there needed to be extra chairs for people to sit in.  One of the attendants told the parents that the chairs needed to remain in the auditorium for the purposes of that room.  The parent decided to debate the attendant.  I backed up what the attendant said, and I pointed out to the parent there were already extra chairs in the boxing equipment room.

The next day, I spotted the parent arguing with a volunteer in another program.  Once again, the parent had taken it upon themselves to move some more chairs from another room.  The volunteer, like the attendant, explained why that shouldn't happen.  The parent grumbled that they would complain to the supervisor about the issue.  The day after that, the parents continued their chair moving mission.  This time, the team sports coach was involved.  The parent decided to upgrade their threat of complaining to the supervisor to calling the main office downtown.  The team sports coach patiently explained that the parent would run the risk of being banned from the field house if rules were not followed.  


I also dealt with another parent who appeared surprised that the boxing program has rules.   The parent and their kid finally showed up to the gym a week after class had already begun.  I didn't receive an explanation from either of them as to why they waited to come to class.  I made it extremely clear their kid would never be allowed to compete unless they appeared at the gym every day. The parent nodded but I got the feeling they weren't thrilled by what I said.  Their kid dragged around the room like they didn't want to be there.  I haven't seen either of them since that day.  

That appeared to be another example of a parent only noticing the word "free" when they signed their kid up for the program.  Despite the requirement being written online and on paper schedules, that parent didn't bother to meet with me before signing their kid up.  Judging by the kid's lack of enthusiasm, the parent probably didn't ask the kid if they actually wanted to take the class.  As long as parents think they can do whatever in a program that always has rules, there are going to be conflicts.




Monday, January 14, 2019

Games I Refuse To Play


When I worked for the Evanston Recreation Department, there were employees who regularly played fast and loose with company rules.  It's the same with the Chicago Park District.  Most are serious about doing what they were hired to do.  However, there are employees in field houses around the city who believe working in the recreation field is a license to play around. 

The first year I was working for the park district, I told one of the volunteers my concerns about the lack of participants I had.  A few of the youths, as well as some of the parents, had attempted to run games on me also.  "If you opened the doors of the gym and told people they can come in here and do what they want, the gym would stay packed.  But as soon as rules are put in place, the numbers go down because people don't want to follow rules," the volunteer told me. 

I found out a long time ago that if I wanted to keep working anywhere, I had to follow the company's orders.  It didn't matter whether I agreed with all of the regulations or not.  The order had to be maintained.  Currently, I keep being confronted with situations regarding what is going on in the lives of the participants outside of the gym.  It's not that I don't have sympathy and even empathy for some situations.  But I can't bend the rules to accommodate everything that is going on with everybody.  The park district has expectations as to how the programs and activities are to be run, and I have to abide by that. 


What people forget is that companies, for the most part, don't care about people's personal issues whether the people involved are employees, volunteers, or customers.  Companies care about the work getting done, the work being done right, and the money that is coming in.  Companies are only going to tolerate sob stories disrupting the order of business for a second.  After that, the consequences will be handed down. 

If there is a situation in the boxing program that starts an issue, management is going to come to me first to demand why it happened.  I'm the one responsible for running the program.  Therefore, I can't and will not allow boundaries to be overstepped just because.  I may be able to make some accommodations here and there, but only within reason and if it doesn't disrupt the program.

But what I'm not going to do is deal with anyone at work coming at me with the "rules apply to everyone else but me" attitude.   For every real issue participants have that deserves my concern, there are several other issues that do not. 

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Absences At The Beginning


Xavier was a no-show at the gym yesterday.  I also found out that there's a problem with the phone at the front desk counter which partially explains why I haven't been getting messages from parents and guardians.  Maybe Xavier's mom tried to phone me and couldn't get through.  Maybe no call was made at all.  I don't know.  But it's a concern when people start coming up missing right at the beginning of a new session.  The other two new kids who signed up haven't shown yet. 

A look through my old attendance rosters revealed that Damaris has been in the boxing program for a year.  Sahia had to keep reminding her to get into her correct stance and as well as having to show her (for the umpteenth time) how to do push-ups correctly.  I had to remind her to do the other floor exercises and stretches.  Sahia chalked up Damaris' forgetfulness to the month-long break in-between the fall and winter session.  However, I can't buy that excuse based on how long Damaris has been in the class.  The look on Damaris' face usually says that she is not enthusiastic about being in the program. If Sahia or I don't constantly stand over her, Damaris will not push herself to train.  I'm glad Sahia has more patience with her because my patience ran out some time ago. 

Henry and David returned, and it was obvious they had been working out during the break.  David especially showed some great improvements. 

No teenagers showed up for class again.  It's extremely rare for me to make courtesy calls anymore.  "They will be in class," is a lie I've tired of hearing.

The best class this session appears to be the adult class where Leonna is the only student.  We don't follow the exact schedule on the bulletin board.  She's not planning to compete, so I try to tailor the workout to go along with her fitness goals.  If had more adults in the class like Leonna that would help soften the blow of the issues already apparent in the first two classes of the day. 



Wednesday, January 09, 2019

The Same For The New Year


Last weekend, the weekends-only boxing class I run expanded a little when more people showed up.  It was a good sign that word may be getting out more about it. 

Can't say the same for the park district boxing class.  New Year's resolutions probably helped bring a few more into the weekend boxing class, but that has never had an effect on the park district class.  The number of participants is low as usual.  So far, everyone is new, with the exception of Damaris who decided to come back again.  I let Sahia deal with her for the whole hour as my patience with Damaris' apparent lack of motivation faded a few sessions ago.

Another issue I'm tired of is the blank looks I get from kids when I tell them to do floor exercises near the end of class.  "Do what you would do in gym class at school -- crunches, leg raises, squats, push-ups, etc.," I announce.  Quickly, I learn that most of the kids have no clue about what I'm talking about.  I know that physical education is still a required class in high schools.  However, it appears that few grade schools have that requirement anymore.  Of those that do, it appears that not much is being taught.

For example, Xavier could not do simple null nor leg raises.  I was shaking my head.  After I showed him how to do them, I asked him, "Do they teach these exercises in school anymore?"  His mom was in the gym, and I appreciated that she stayed on him about being focused.  Earlier on in the hour, Xavier kept taking rests during the rounds, especially when he had to do laps around the gym. 

A few parents told me that they tried to contact me at the field house, but either no one picked up the phone, or they received some erroneous information about the program.  I've brought that issue up to staff too many times during the past few years.  From here on in, I'm telling parents and guardians to take their complaints about that directly to the field house supervisor.  Maybe attention will be paid to the customers. 

The few teens who signed up didn't appear.  I no longer call people's homes to find out why.  In my opinion, there's no excuse for people not remembering they registered for the class.  Most of the time, especially where teenagers are concerned, the parents and guardians have signed them up without bothering to ask if the teens want to go to the gym.  I'm not making that my problem anymore.  I just replace them with the next persons who want to register and keep it moving.

The one adult who signed up showed up early in the middle of the teen class.  We had a good class, but I have a sinking feeling they may be the only one taking that class for this whole winter session.