As an undergraduate student of Civil (Structural) Engineering at the University of Southern California, one of the classes I took was in Construction Engineering, taught by a practical professor (who in many ways was a lot like our congregation’s volleyball coach in background and approach, and who came from a practical background in contracting, and who happened to be the faculty adviser for two clubs I served as an officer–the Associated General Contractors and our chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers). Our professor had a very simple approach–he told us that he wanted us to remember two lessons from his class, how to schedule properly and how to unbalance. Unbalancing, which may sound unfamiliar, is simply a clever way to know enough about the amount of material that will go into a particular project, so as to change the per unit prices in one’s bid to earn more money from a particular project than would be the case bidding from a mistaken request for proposals. It is the aspect of scheduling that I would like to talk about today, though, from my perspective as the Secretary of my congregation’s local Spokesmen’s Club.
One would think that scheduling might be a subject that would not attract a great deal of notice, but on the contrary, it causes a great deal of drama and concern. For example, this past Sabbath after services I spoke with a member of our club who has the ambitious and barely possible goal of finishing Spokesmen’s club within three years so that he can graduate before he heads off to the Ambassador Center immediately after high school. Given that there are three speeches scheduled per year, and each person can expect to be an alternate perhaps one time per year, and perhaps be scheduled for Ladies’ Night. I let him know that what he asked was a difficult challenge but that it was a worthy one and that I would do what I could do to give him a chance to finish before graduation. He also understood that in order to finish in three years that he would have to pass every speech, as even a single failure would make it just about impossible for him to manage the pace of four speeches a year that would be necessary to accomplish his plans.
In scheduling Spokesmen’s club, I work within a few constraints. One is that given the compressed schedule, no one is going to be scheduled back to back, with only two weeks between speeches. That said, there are a few of us that are pretty impatient to graduate, and so I will look to schedule as alternates those who are the most driven to finish and the most able to take advantage of those opportunities, in the hope that they will not have to be used too often. Also, I am really hoping that there is some kind of Ladies’ Night or Ladies’ Brunch activity this year, even if the odds of me being able to actually bring a lady to such an event is not particularly high given the lack of eligible potential dates. At least it will give me (and others) the opportunity to speak again in front of an appreciative audience, and perhaps give me the chance to schedule a part two of one of my most beloved speeches . Additionally, I hope to show some of my fellow undergraduates in club that I do have a priority in helping them along in development as speakers, while also providing some of the graduates plenty of speaking opportunities as well.
In addition to scheduling the speakers and alternates, there is also the matter of scheduling the other tasks, such as evaluation, toast and topics masters, and those who will provide refreshments. We decided that rather than rely on volunteers that we would assign people to provide refreshments who had jobs. This has proven to be an interesting task, trying to balance people together whose tastes are complementary and who can communicate well to provide good snacks. Somehow, and sometime soon, I hope to turn the papers and my chickenscratch notes into an easy-to-read and comprehensive schedule and roster sheet that will hopefully meet the needs and wishes of my fellow members of our local Spokesmen’s club. At least I can dream.
 See, for example: