Sunday, February 1, 2009

One Jet at a Time

It’s 5:40 AM and I can’t sleep. My wife and I are at The Alaskan Inn, she’s asleep next to me. The cabin is nice, a rustic touch of romance to celebrate an early Valentine’s Day. We’ll be getting breakfast delivered to the door of our cabin in about four hours and my stomach is growling in anticipation.

After I write this blog post, I’ll work on my current project. I’m still drumming away at chapter two. The changes I want to make to chapter one are fresh on my mind and nagging. I must move on, though, and leave the rewrite for once I’ve finished the draft. I suppose I could go back and rework it a bit if I get stuck somewhere, but I’m hoping that doesn’t happen for a while.

My responsibilities at work have been evolving as of late. It still seems odd to be the Team Mentor, but now I am saddled with producing and / or updating all of the guides for every operation we perform for the new training program that will be rolling out soon. I have client-facing work scheduled for all of this upcoming week and I’ve had to fight to get the old, outdated documentation. That is a hurdle in and of itself right there.

From time to time I get frustrated because it seems like I’m not being given the tools I need in order to succeed, and instead I’m forced to rely on my own resourcefulness to get the job done. That’s all well and fine when the day is over and all the tasks are complete, but it wears me down to some degree – more so than is necessary in most cases. I’m willing to admit that sometimes the extra stress is of my own making. Surely that was the case a few times during the summer when tensions were high and my nerves were on end. Working 14-20 hours a day throughout a normal work week and sometimes through the weekend and to the end of the next week, well that would be stressful to most people, I’d wager.

Up until this point, I’ve tried to keep most things related to business out of my blog in case anyone from that circle decided to make their way here to sate some profound curiosity. I do see this blog as a form of release, a bit of a way to vent sometimes, and I do enjoy posting. I’ve found that it becomes harder and harder to post when I’m not writing about what’s really on my mind. Right now I’m thinking about the mass of documentation I’ve got to produce while also performing my normal duties. Sure, I’m supposed to be the last one assigned, and any minute not used to perform those functions are supposed to be dedicated to this new venture, but two guys are out for training for the next week and we no longer have the staffing we used to. That puts me on the front lines.

When I was in the military, my first few years were really rough. There were many days that I was given the opportunity to spend my lunch hour on the flight line, snagging bites between aircraft refuels with jet fuel soaked hands. I’d finally come in off the line after my shift had ended to see a garbage can full of take-out containers from some of the local restaurants and as a lower grade enlisted member it was my duty to take those out to the trash before I could head home. It’s all part of the “rank has its privileges” game so many deal with on a day to day basis, but it didn’t make it any easier to console myself that I wasn’t alone. Whether warranted or not, I’ve always tried to take pride in who I am and it was quite humbling to be treated as a lower form of life, unable to enjoy the same courtesies that people around me seemed to take for granted.

I later learned that this environment was not necessarily reflective of my branch of the military as a whole, but it was too late. I’d already seen enough to know that any organization where power was abused so badly to the constant detriment of its members was not for me. But on those blistering days under the wavering heat of the sun and the bitter nights of the frozen North, where you huddled in front of the exhaust pipe of your truck for any warmth you could steal from the darkness, I comforted myself in the mantra that I could only do what I could do. No matter what the size of the list that I was given, I could only refuel one jet at a time, and so I did, and so I made it through each night – one jet at a time.
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