May 14, 2021
Chris Choice manages his time to the fullest, so the most efficient setting for a conversation about his redeployment experience was Zoom. A man who must make the most of every minute, he handles two jobs, shares the parenting of two young daughters, and visits his mom several times a week to spend time together and make sure she has what she needs.
Chris smiled as he recalled the stroke of luck that led him to Georgetown, noting that it’s gratitude that keeps him going. In 2008, while assisting his uncle on a part-time basis with flooring installation, he and the homeowner struck up a conversation about his search for additional work. She said she worked at Georgetown and encouraged him to contact Hoya Staffing, adding that she was confident they could help. Chris called the next day, was interviewed, and then hired as a Metadata Assistant in Lauinger Library.
Happy as he was to have a full-time job, he continued to work part-time to meet the responsibilities of a growing young family, following a schedule he continues to this day. He drives from South Stafford, Virginia to begin his Lauinger duties at 8:00 am, heads for home at 4:30 to prepare and share dinner with his daughters and to assure homework gets underway, and then continues to his part-time custodial work. In the 12 years since joining Georgetown, his schedule has remained pretty much the same, save carve outs for weekend sports coaching for his daughters’ teams and twice weekly visits with his mother, who lives in Maryland.
When Covid-19 required Georgetown to consider almost every aspect of its academic life and the work that supports its mission, Chris thought it made sense that everyone would be asked to do things a little differently. Therefore, he wasn’t surprised when his supervisor approached him about a temporary reassignment to assist people in accessing campus buildings. He listened carefully to the details she had available, and said he wanted to discuss it with his daughters. As a family they agreed that the potential change in his hours might badly impact the relatively little time they had together – and the time he had with his mom.
In December, as Covid-19 continued its curtailment of regular activities, his supervisor approached him again about redeployment. This time, after another discussion with his family, he said yes. He remembered thinking, “Georgetown’s been good to me, and I’m grateful for the job I have. I’ll give it a go.”
Asked if he had any misgivings about the assignment, he said, “I did not know what might happen to my job while I was gone – but I knew I didn’t have a say about that. I decided not to think about the negative – just focus on the positive. Georgetown had my back, and there was no point in worrying. I wanted my kids to see me working – and not being mad or sad.”
Chris wanted to be sure that the adjustments ahead would not interfere with his second job and noted especially, “My regular supervisor and my Redeploy supervisor came up with a daily schedule that helped me do the Redeploy job and also make it in time to go to my part time job.”
Assigned in redeployment as a Breaker, a team member who relieves others for scheduled breaks or other reasons they must be away from their posts, Chris experienced more of Georgetown’s geography and of its community. “I had to learn about buildings I had never even seen in all my years here. And after meeting so many people who work in or visit those buildings, I have a greater appreciation of what people mean to each other. It lifted my disposition – let me make the best of it. I think we could see that in each other.”
I asked Chris what he savors most about returning to his regular work schedule, and quickly replied, “The most I savor about returning to my main job is seeing my colleagues again. We all have a great bond and I consider them my work family.”
I also wondered what elements of the Redeploy experience he will take with him when he returns to his regular duties on a full time basis. He said, “I will miss the camaraderie I had with the people I wouldn’t typically get to know, but I will make a point of keeping up with them.”
“And I have a better understanding of how to push myself to adapt to something unfamiliar – I can decide to make the best of any situation. You have to be willing to change – mostly change your disposition.”