What I learned this week…

Back when I was a young, still wet behind the years bureaucrat, I thought I wanted to be a professional emergency manager. You may remember me from such natural disasters as Hurricane Katrina, when I spent two months learning more about the bottled water, ice, and refrigerated trucking industry than is strictly reasonable.

You might be wondering what that has to do with what I learned this week… Well, it’s mostly that it seems so very little has changed in that world. Reports will never be on time. No one will read them when they are published. And the numbers being reported will never ever match.

I also learned that emergency management is probably a young man’s game. Things I once would have savored now regularly leave me trying to hold back a disgusted cry of “What is this fuckery?” and “What ignorant sonofabitch thought this was a good idea?”

Maybe that last part hasn’t really changed so much, though. I vaguely remember a whole lot of eye rolling during Katrina too.

Swan Song…

This trip reminded me why I have enjoyed the work in emergency management since I first got the bug five years ago… It’s also reminded me why it’s time for me to go. While I’ve been here smoothing ruffled feathers and talking up our operation, I’ve been constantly peppered with emails from the home office about things that could more easily be handled by others. With a rare few exceptions, everyone in the office is senior to me in terms of years of service by 20-30 years. With that many years of experience stacked up, an office should be able to run for a week without sending major decisions through me for evaluation or to send in a report about how many of our people are working overseas. Sometimes I can’t quite shake the feeling that it’s amateur hour at the icecapades around here.

This trip is probably my last big roundup before moving on to other pastures, but one of the most gratifying things in it all is knowing that my opinions in the field are sought out by senior leaders and people who awed me when I was just starting out. It’s a little humbling… but fortunately, my ego is sufficiently large not to be too deflated by that.