Published: Sep 11, 2012 10:29 AM
Modified: Sep 11, 2012 10:30 AM
CARY - It’s 5:23 p.m. when I realize I’ll be late to meet Sue Rowland. This is cause for panic. To me, Sue is an almost mythically organized woman.
After all, she’s the town clerk. Even worse: All the rest of the state’s clerks named her Clerk of the Year this month. And there I am sweating in my car, drumming on the wheel at 5:28, wondering whether I should even bother making an excuse.
I’m ready to beg for mercy by the time I park at Town Hall. Sue, as the mayor put it, is “the town’s heart and soul.” What if I have thrown off her entire schedule and potentially doomed the town?
But even as I jog toward the seat of government, I see Sue walking with the Cary Town Council. Miracle of miracles, she has been delayed.
“I was thinking, ‘I hope Andy’s late,’” she half jokes. Well, you can count on me.
The following, with edits for brevity, is a chronically late reporter’s conversation with Sue Rowland, 49, who is a baseball geek, an exercise fanatic, a mother of one, a grandmother of two, and Cary’s beloved clerk of 20 years. Kenney: Are you possessed of natural clerking skills?
Rowland: What do you call natural clerking skills?
I’m possessed of the skill that I like to work with people, and I think that’s critical. I think you learn how to do the work of the people, as long as you don’t mind the change that happens – every election year you may have new people that you’re working with. I don’t think I’d be well suited to be a clerk. How do I become one?
Do you have a device where you keep track of all your commitments? I have a dumb phone.
So do I. ... We do a good job of getting people where they need to be when they need to be there, and the clerk’s office staff is phenomenal with that. So I guess my answer to that is, you hire somebody who has those skills. And the council’s very dedicated. They want to be where they need to be. Now, you surely must have some personal routines.
I’m a pretty organized person here because I have to be, but I’m probably the least organized person at home. It’s just over organization to do it here and at home. I have a feeling that your disorganization is different than mine. Your throw pillows might be out of order.
It might be – or the blinds are uneven. So what are your routines at work in the morning?
I make sure I don’t have any voicemail messages from overnight, I check email messages to make sure there’s nothing that needs to be taken care of right of way, and check to make sure – (pauses) I guess I am pretty organized. How do you keep other people on track?
If we have a deadline that’s dependent on their work, they really do what it takes to get it submitted on time. ... And I hope people will say that I can be flexible when I need to be. I’m working on that. You said you’re working on being flexible?
The older I get, the better I get at doing that. I think I used to be rigid. I can’t imagine that. Is it the deadline monster?
I used to be, but don’t publish that, because then maybe people will take flexibility for granted. (Author’s note: Sorry, Sue.) Is there a certain feeling - some kind of zen or satisfaction when everything’s going smoothly?
Oh yeah, who doesn’t – that’s a wonderful feeling. But when you hit a bump in the road, you get over it. Sometimes when things go differently, you find something that you never would have discovered before. How long do you plan to stay with the town?
I don’t know, I wake up every morning, and I love coming to work, and not many people can say that, I don’t think. Now, if I come up here one day and the locks on the doors are changed, I think I’ll take a hint.