Saturday, May 13, 2006

Head desk. Head desk.

Well THAT was dumb.

On Thursday I had (good LORD this is getting old) a Board Meeting. For Open Session, we have a tape recorder and a secretary. When we go into Closed Session, we tape the meeting, but there's no one taking notes, nor do we prepare minutes. Closed Session discussions are confidential, and so, therefore are the tapes. They only exist for the people who took part in the conversation to have record to go back to if there's a dispute about what direction was given, or who said what. (It happens. And, yeah, the tapes could be subpoenaed, but it's not important for the purposes of this goof.)

Last Thursday the regular secretary wasn't able to attend, and the acting secretary wasn't familiar with the procedure for handling the tapes. At the close of Open Session, we troop into a back office, set up the tape machine and start talking. I'm in charge of flipping the tapes; it's where I sit.

At the close of the meeting, I talk to secretary, who doesn't know where to put the tapes. So we lock the office, and the next morning, I call the regular secretary.

There are Open Session and Closed Session sections on the tapes, she doesn't know which is which, and she can't listen to them. I went to the office, took the tapes, bought myself a minicassette dictation machine, and went to my kids' tutor this morning. I figured I would note the index marker where Open Session ended and Closed Session began, and, if possible, retape the Open Session (using the second tape recorder I bought) onto a separate tape so that the secretary could prepare the Open Session minutes.

Sitting in the waiting room, flipping tapes and listening to excerpts, the horror begins to wash over me in a blue-grey wave.

I was in charge of the tapes, I flipped them, and I taped over Open Session. We need MINUTES for that meeting. We have all of Closed Session--great. But the 45 minutes of testimony before we retired into Closed Session? Gone.

I thought I was starting on a new tape--since the old secretary always provides a fresh set of tapes for Closed Session. But when I flipped the tape? Recorded over old stuff. Damn. Boneheaded move.


My heart rate has returned to normal. The fill-in secretary, I remembered, took notes in shorthand, which our current secretary doesn't know. The fill-in secretary actually used to prepare the minutes, and she didn't rely on the tapes too much when she did minutes--so I think we can get the info out there. But I still feel like an idiot.

Think I have to write up a protocol for handling the tapes, and I KNOW I'm bringing my OWN minicassettes from now on. That way they're guaranteed fresh. (Does cause me to wonder if the balance of the Closed Session tapes are complete. Hmmm.)


Angela James said...

It all sounds very mysterious and rather ominous ;)

I hate that feeling of panic and dread--the racing heart--when you know you've just f'ed up and probably can't undo or fix it. Blech!

Suisan said...

Yeah, the racing heart thing. Bad. My neck sweats too.

I think it *can* be fixed, but only by asking one secretary to do more work. Which I hate doing. But since I don't read shorthand, I'm at a loss to figure out how to fix my own mistake myself.