The way the union works means that Zag was unable to train his replacement. He gave far more than the required amount of notice, but it was still not enough to find his replacement in time. The union requires that there be a week wherein anybody in the relevant union who doesn't currently have a job be given first option to apply for it. Then there must be a week of general and widespread advertising. And only then can they interview the applicants from that general advertising round. Without an administrative assistant, well, many many many things will not be happening. And all this about a month before we host SHOT (the Society for the History of Technology conference).
More craziness is likely to descend upon the department in the form of a baby boom. We haven't had any departmental babies in about 3 years and it looks like the next half year or so may bring 3 infants into the department. In all cases, the fathers are the ones who are the students.