Urgent. It’s a relative concept

07Oct11

A client phoned me at 4pm the other day (Tuesday 4 October) asking if I could translate 2800 words (12 “translation pages”) on The International Monetary System and Financial Stability: The implications for Latin America. For 8am the following day.

Another client asked me that same afternoon for a translation of 6170 words (4 pages). Apologising for the urgency, they told me they needed it “as soon as possible… Monday [10 October] would be great”.

I suppose urgent means different things to different people.



6 Responses to “Urgent. It’s a relative concept”

  1. The other thing is Rowland’s Law of Inversely Shortening Deadlines-
    e.g.
    Chief Exec to Sec -‘Tell, Jack I need this for the end of Nov’
    Sec. to Jack (playing cautious) ‘He needs it for the third week in Nov’
    etc. etc.
    finally
    Minion level 37 to RJ (i.e.me!) ‘…. we’re already behind on this, so I need it this afternoon.’
    So what do we do?

    Option 1
    Reply ‘No problem’ whilst typing e-mail to cancel-
    a) front row seat at New York Met
    b) Flight to Monte Carlo for romantic weekend
    c) your 30/40/50/60th birthday party
    d) your own funeral

    Option 2
    Reply ‘How does the end of November sound’

    Which route you take depends on
    1. The security of your Client relationship
    2. The importance of above
    3. The size of your bank balance/overdraft
    etc.
    it’s tricky stuff . . ..

  2. Urgency is never the problem of the recipient of the task. However, and provided the task is doable within the urgent time frame set, there is an opportunity to escalate the price significantly. Generally when the price increases, urgency decreases or the problem is taken away!

  3. One of my favorite sayings is “Your lack of planning is not my emergency.” I relate this to countless experiences of panicked emails from students who are frantic about how they are going to finish their papers because their printers broke, they lost their folder, the internet is down and they can’t find the guide…yadda yadda. I give my students ample time and resources, and if they can choose to write the paper at the last minute, I can choose to not drop everything to spend time giving them the instructions or feedback again. I’m super happy to have a boss who also includes the above saying as one of his favorites 🙂

    • I’m last-minute and deadline-driven by nature and have to discipline myself to be professional about delivery times. So I have some sympathy with your students. But I do agree — it’s their problem, and one that they need to get to grips with, not least for their future careers.
      I didn’t realise you taught, by the way. Which subject?

      • I have sympathy as well, being a life-long last-minute kind of a girl myself (as evidenced by how long it took to reply to your question! 😉 ). And I’ve asked for the extension or two, but if it was refused, I just dealt with it and didn’t expect them to bend over backwards to accommodate me. I always try to be fair and give them opportunities to do something, anything but I don’t accept anything if they just saunter in and expect me to just suddenly break all of my policies just because their internet went down (well, allegedly anyway…)

        I taught ESL for many years, and now I am teaching writing and English literature at a community college.

      • I’ve just committed the sin that I try to correct my students of: unclear pronoun reference! I’ve asked professors for extensions…I try to be fair and give students opportunities…

        Yup, I’m an English teacher! 🙂


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