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Remind Me Why I Love My Job? April 21, 2010

Posted by KG in India, Mumbai.

Inexorable realities of Foreign Service life that suck: Bidding. EERs.

And packout.

Holy crap, packing out sucks.

I’m generally pretty easy and non-stressed about packing.  It’s five to midnight and our movers come tomorrow, and I’ve got my suitcases packed, my air freight organized, and a firm plan for tomorrow and Friday in mind.  The wife is a bit less chilled out, but this time she’s well ahead of the game as well; as I type, she’s organizing her jewelry and deciding which pashminas to carry (airplanes and HST offices: both freezing).  Like me, she finished packing her suitcases hours ago.  We’re actually so well on our way that we took an hour’s break to eat.  We’re probably going to bed soon — before midnight, the night before packout.  Shocking.

And yet, and yet, and yet.  This feeling stinks.  For the next few months, we will have only a very basic idea of where our stuff is.  My massive collection of comic books?  On a boat, somewhere.  My wife’s stand mixer?  In transit.  The art we bought in Australia, our first real art purchase together? Wrapped in acid-free paper, in a crate, taking the long way around.

This is one of those realities, one of those things I’ve gone through plenty of times and always dread.  No amount of planning and preparation makes it better, or easier.  Hm, that’s just like EERs, and bidding.  If you do the math — oh man, I just did the math — that’s equal to almost six months out of a two year tour where you either have none of the things that make a house a home; have to justify your worth and pray someone believes you; or have to write or edit paper that makes it sounds like you turn water into wine by walking two feet above it.  That’s one fourth of a tour (a conservative estimate) spent not being particularly comfortable.

Which brings me to my titular question.  Why do I love my job?  In the final minutes of this extremely stressful day, my wife forwarded me an email that reminded me exactly why.  It was from a woman who was trapped in the Trident Hotel on the 26th of November, 2008.  She was one of the many I had spoken with on the phone that Thanksgiving day, while she was barricaded in her hotel room in the midst of a war zone.  By then safe at her home in New York, she wrote to us.  In the email she described what it was like on the other side of the phone those days, and how our calls had helped her keep it together during what must have been a terrifying experience.  For some reason I had never seen the message until today.  In her email she went on to name a number of us she had dealt with, called us “pillars.”  A direct quote: “after our ordeal… we walked away feeling ourselves blessed.”

I’m enough of a cynic to look a little askew at that line, to ask how in the world one could feel blessed by witnessing such inhumanity.  Luckily, I’m also enough of a romantic to not question too much. I’m proud of our team’s humanity, supporting as well we could, some of us on our first overseas tours, none of us with any direct crisis response experience, all of us working towards one clearly defined goal: helping our fellow Americans.  It’s cheesy, I agree.  But even though this tour’s been tough, particularly the combined six months of no stuff/navel gazing/applying for jobs, those days in November define my time in Mumbai.

And why I love my job.


1. A Daring Adventure - April 21, 2010

Hope all goes well with your move… and you are so very right… packing out sucks!

Love your post!

And thank you for the link!

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