Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Hang ups?

I've got a job on the board of the kids' preschool. It isn't one of the 10 or so I said I was willing to do -- it's the one the director called me up and talked me into. I'm Assistant Treasurer. Basically the job entails collecting any money coming in to the school, depositing it in the bank, and reporting the deposits to the Treasurer. Sounds simple, right? Except, I hate asking people for money. And I have to collect tuition... and remind people that they're late... and remind them again (and don't forget the late fee,) and remind them some more if I have to.

So I have a couple of families that are now 5 weeks late on their 1st tuition payment. I decided that it's time to make a phone call because emails aren't working. One of my calls, despite my hopes for an answering machine, was answered.

So if someone called you up from the school where your child is going to go to school, whose child will be in your child's class, and told you that you are late with your tuition, what would you do? I don't know, I suppose that people have different ways of reacting to sudden pressure, which is probably how this phone call was perceived -- pressure. I guess fight or flight are two options. This woman chose flight -- she hung up. I suppose it's better than getting yelled at. But if it was me, I think I would have been embarrassed and apologized profusely and offered up some explanation: "I totally forgot!" or "I've been wanting to pay, but it's been a difficult summer financially" or something, anything, a lie even!

Anyway, I'm not planning to hold it against this person, because I suspect she's embarrassed not only by being late and receiving my call, but by panicking and hanging up. I didn't call back because I got my message across and there was no need to embarrass her further (although I wish I could have gotten a, "I will send you a check on such and such date.") I just hope that it doesn't cause any tension at school, because I would hate that. I will go to the school without my Assistant Treasurer hat on, but will others imagine me wearing it?

So, just curious, what would you do if someone called and told you that you are 5 weeks late with a payment due?


Susan Z said...

I personally would assume that my child would get kicked out if I hadn't paid, and I would be completely embarassed that another parent knew...if it was an administrator I don't know that I would feel as embarassed.

Jill in MA said...

It's possible that she doesn't realize that the school "administrators" are just other parents. (Dumb, but possible.)

Ann in NJ said...

Forgot to talk to you about this on the phone...

Your best bet is to follow the school procedure - if you are consistent and calm (and maybe explain that you are the volunteer with this job right now, rather than a mother in her kid's class), you can "hide" behind the rules. "Just doin' my job, ma'am."

She may have forgotten, and then sort of hoped it would go away - the longer you wait on something like that, the easier it is to put it off another day. Unfortunately, it's not good for the school to let it fester - at some point she either has to pay up or leave the school, right? Or it's not fair to other parents who are paying. I'd guess an official letter might be in order. My kids preschool (which wasn't a co-op) would send home a reminder after 15 days, so perhaps that's an approach in the future.