Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Takeaways from a Long Day's Work

Well I did the math after I woke up this afternoon. In a little over 50 hours I managed to get exactly 2 hours of sleep plus two cat-naps in the car of about a half our each. On paper going in it didn’t look like it would be that bad. But then, no plan survives first contact with the enemy, as they say…

Of course by the time I got home this morning, Gorgeous was getting ready to head off to Atlanta for some meetings and an overnight. I tried to stay up and chat with her but apparently I was babbling a little incoherently because she eventually stopped me with, “Chris. You really need to get some sleep now.” Ah, the wisdom of the fairer sex.

I did learn some good lessons from the whole experience, though

  • It is amazing what the human body can put up with
I’m a sucker for survival stories. Get caught in a blizzard on Mt. Everest? Lost in the Sahara desert? Find yourself behind enemy lines? Or maybe you got trapped out in the wilderness by yourself and had to cut off your own arm to survive? I could sit and listen for hours. It is fascinating what people do to survive. What is the difference that causes to someone who makes it through when others don’t?

My little work induces exercise on staying away is incredibly tiny compared to those stories. But going through things like that, even on a smaller scale, helps give you a measure of what you can do. It helps build your belief so that when you face the next challenge in your life, you have some perspective and are more able to conquer it.

  • One difficult person can really complicate things
Where to begin on this one? Well, on merchant ships, the Chief Officer is normally responsible for the cargo. Since most of my work involves issues with cargo, he’s the guy I usually have to deal with. And we see all kinds. They come from all over the world. The overwhelming majority are highly competent professionals who have a heavy responsibility and are used to getting things done.

But not last night. Last night I had to work with what a pastor friend of mine calls an “EGR” for “Extra Grace Required.” One of the fist things I noticed when I met him was that he absolutely stank of alcohol. Now I was willing to cut him some slack on that account because alcohol and seafaring has a long tradition behind it and the ship had been at anchor for a couple days before it came in. It is not uncommon for mariners to hit the bottle from time to time.

But it sure added to my frustration as he continued to make a sting of decisions that made all of our jobs harder. He was belligerent too, pretty much yelling and screaming at most of the crew, including the captain. At one point he even started in on me as if I was responsible for things taking so long. The bottom line is this guy basically single handedly turned a 24 hour job into a 36 hour job.

Then finally at the end of the operation he created a situation where I couldn’t realistically even do what we were hired to do.

I was not happy.

But it made me think. How many times do I complicate things for the people around me? Hopefully I’m never as bad as that guy was! But it is amazing how just one person who’s not pulling in the same direction of the rest of the team can wreak absolute havoc and keep the objectives from being met.

  • Pets are good value
I get the feeling that the boys knew I was zonked because Low Rider curled up beside me on the bed while I slept today and didn’t bug me at all. That’s unusual for him. Big cuteness points. Then, after I got up, Fat Boy came in for some lap time. Since it’s spring time, he’ shedding like crazy so I started brushing him. He started purring really loud and I could tell he was loving it. But I actually laughed out loud when he started drooling all over my shorts.

Somehow a good bout of uncontrollable drool seems to always signify contentment.

I think I’m going to take a nap, maybe even drool on my pillow…

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