I joined the Professional Staff at the Richardson School of Law titled "Chief Operating Officer/Senior Advisor." The title allowed an acronym for Chief Operating Officer Lee to be hatched and a large segment of UH Law Alumni know/knew me as "COOL". My position was newly created. Officially, I was “responsible for the overall programmatic administrative operations of the Law School in support of the academic mission.’’ Included under that umbrella were a wide variety of tasks, dominated by “other duties as assigned.” As Chief Operating Officer/Senior Advisor, truth be told, I was not called upon for much “advice,” and not much of what I suggested was accepted. When I relinquished the title to become Director of Professional Development however, I was relieved of certain duties and was afforded the privilege to work 100% with Law Students as Advisor and Counselor, which was my joy and passion. My duties as Chief Operating Officer (rhymes with, and actually was more like: "Chief Cook & Bottle Washer") included some memorable scenarios/requests/demands. My TOP EIGHTEEN, which I can remember:
18. It's been two years since my "promotion" as Director of Professional Development - but old habits are evidently hard to break: “I hope all is well with you. I believe you are the person who may be able to help me. Would it be possible to have help with rubble that I’ve found on the top of my file cabinets (tall and short cabinets just to the right of my door)? There’s a noticeable though small amount that a small vacuum with attachment should be able to take care of.”
(Comment: I thought about delivering one of those hot, new fancy contraptions, complete with instructions for use but my better judgment said to just let it go. Instead, I took a dustpan and a brush; "Mission Accomplished" in about 47 seconds.)
17. "The plants in the Courtyard are drooping from what looks like a lack of water. Can you confirm that the sprinkler system is working?
(Comment: Since the sprinklers go on in the middle of the night and as a Senior Citizen I am getting up several times anyway, no problem-o. I'll just pop out of bed and troop down to campus to check that out.)
16. "I have a table that I want to put in my office. On your way into the office, can you stop by my house and pick it up? It's in the garage. Just place it in the corner of my office where I have cleared an area. You'll see it."
(Comment: Seriously. He/she was kidding, no? Gulp. Nope.)
15. "The door won't close. Can you check it?"
(Comment: Actually, over the years, insert in place of "door" anything you can think of: For example, "The Atomic Reactor or the Periform Intergalactic Goniometer Imaging Unit isn't working. Can you check it? "Why, let me reach into my back pocket. I always carry an extra Diagnostic Test unit for these kinds of situations, just in case.")
14. "OMG! There's a bird in my office! HELP!! HELP!!"
(Comment: A bird, you say? Not a wild rhinoceros, boa constrictor or a mastodon? To the RESCUE!)
13. "I put some things out in the hall - can you get them moved away?" (No Comment.)
12. It's the Summer - I've placed over 120 desks, credenzas, bookcases, conference tables, cabinets, chairs, etc. around and about at the Law School, with help, but mostly, myself. ‘Looked like a furniture warehouse. Desks, chairs, credenzas and the like which were replaced with the new donated furniture were moved onto the landings and hallways for removal from campus. At a Monday meeting: "Can you make sure that the desks and other clutter that are lining the halls are removed by Wednesday?"
(Comment: "In two days? Most soitainly!”)
11. A week later: "Do you need help moving the furniture? I notice it's still there." (No comment.)
10. "Wow! What ARE you doing?"
(Comment: From under a row of tables, on my back or hanging upside down, I used a 16 ounce baby sledge hammer and a chisel in the process of removing embedded, bent metal pins from pedestals attaching some 320 swivel chairs in the Classrooms and the Moot Courtroom. "How much longer before you are done?" "Oh, just another three weeks, or so, I guess." "Looks great, see you around!" Small wonder why my arthritic shoulder throbbed and ached for months thereafter - the dismantling project was about five weeks-long to completion. I dismantled over 2 tons of metal assemblies.)
9. "My door stopper won't 'stay up.' It works, but it won't stay in the 'up' position. When you have time, it needs to be fixed."
(Comment: $3.95 at City Mill. Thank God, it wasn't a zipper!)
8. "I need key. YOU get me key."
(Comment: A Visiting Scholar from China on campus using our resources, free of charge. "Kung Hee Fat Choy to you, too, buddy!")
7. "The new table is too small!"
(Comment: The old table is 9' long. The new "too small" table is 8'6". I concede, six inches in some situations – very important. But, in our Conference Room?)
6. "It's unbearably HOT in my office. I've called this to your attention several times. Can't YOU do something?"
(Comment: I will leave my regular duties, purchase a block of ice, behind which I will sit, and wave a palm frond sending the cool air in your direction. 'Should be there in ten minutes.)
5. My cell phone rings at 8:00am on a Saturday morning. "There's no toilet paper in the Restrooms!”
(Comment: I rush out and deliver six (6) rolls from home. 'Might have startled a few people who were treated to Charmin, instead of the standard UH 80 grade sandpaper tissue.)
4. "Do you think the bookcases will fit?" "Yes." "I don't think they will." "I've measured. Trust me. They'll fit." "I'm not so sure." "They WILL!!"
(Comment: “Here's a tape measure. Know how to use it?")
3. Appearing at the door to my office: A Visiting Scholar again - this time, from Korea, my homeland, even. "I understand you are very good golfer (false praise) and member of country club. You will take me to golf?"
(Comment: That wasn't as bad as at the 19th Hole when to get our waitress's attention he snapped his fingers and motioned with his hand "come here." I came this close to punching him out (for the third time that day).
2. "Can you come to my office and tighten a screw on my desk?"
(Comment: Honest, not erect or construct, or repair - just tighten a screw. I was either too shocked or too dumb to say, "Return this screwdriver when PAU," so I did it.)
1. “I left my car in the Parking Lot (without a Parking Sticker or Pass). Will you take care of it for me?"
(Comment: A professor from an unnamed prestigious Law School located in the Northeast. At least he didn't call me "Boy.")