Government work isn’t generally known as a hotbed of excitement. Still, there are people in Florida heaving heavy objects into deep space, bean counters at Treasury striving mightily to keep the economy on track, agricultural inspectors keeping an eye on our meat and produce, or Coasties rescuing sailors in distress. There’s a lot of good work going on out there.
I should put heavy emphasis on the “out there,” because none of those things is reflective of what I’m currently fiddling with on behalf of my rich uncle. I spent at least some part of today reviewing the website of a local porta potty company and talking with their very special customer service team about getting a quote to provide services to an upcoming event. Lest you think that we’re talking about hauling in a bunch of standard plastic single seater units that we’ve all seen or used at outdoor venues, you can get that image out of your head completely. We’re talking about trailerable units that are fully powered and ventilated, plumbed with hot and cold running water, and feature the latest in mobile bathroom design elements.
Sometimes I wonder what it would be like living as a planner in one of those little corners of my universe that does the cool stuff… or what might have been if I’d have landed back in the strategic planning world I thought I was headed towards when I made the leap back to Maryland. I, and the world, will never know. It’s the path not taken.
If anyone needs me I’ll be over here thinking about executive porta johns and wondering which particular career decision put me inexorably on the path to this exact moment.
Certain marks in history are so important that men and women still talk about them thousands of years after the fact. The Ides of March, remembered now in no small part due to Shakespeare’s treatment of the subject, are still recalled even by those who have no more than a passing interest in the politics of dying Roman Republic. The year 1066, when Norman Duke William lead his army across the Channel and conquered. The story is as familiar as an old family friend to anyone who has studied English history at all. June 6, 1944 is another one of those marked dates in our story – when we committed to spend every ounce of blood and treasure of the English speaking peoples if need be to throw back the rising tide of darkness. I have little doubt that 1000 years from now, historians will view Eisenhower little different than William before him.
There are dates, though, that most people don’t remember. Most people don’t think about them at all, really. That last day before the Big Thing happened. The day before the Ides. The day before the Battle of Hastings. The day before Overlord.
It’s easy to think of our history as a foregone conclusion, that because it’s the way it happened that it’s the way it had to happen. Nothing is further from the truth, of course. The day before the Big Thing, is the day of uncertainty and of questioning whether all is ready or if anything else can be done. It’s a day where history hangs in the balance. I’m not bold enough to suggest that preparation has nothing to do with it, but I’ve also been around long enough to know that random chance has an oversized role to plan in all of our efforts.
Today is June 5th – the anniversary of Eisenhower’s great day of uncertainty. The day before he was the head of vast army sweeping its way across Fortress Europe. It’s a day that the vagaries of weather nearly halted the invasion that we now think of as inevitable. Studying what happens on these days before the Big Things in history is the real case study in determination, courage, and leadership.
The paperwork needs to catch up and I’m probably making myself a tempting target for Fate by even breathing it aloud, but the word is that I’m in the process of completing the world’s shortest temporary promotion. In fact, it’s been so short that it isn’t even effective yet and won’t be until this coming Sunday. About a month later the powers that be have decided they’ll convert the temporary assignment to a permanent promotion. Still non-supervisory. Still in the same office I’m in now. Basically we’re formalizing the fact that I’ve been doing the job for the last few months without benefit of pay or grade. I can’t deny that it’s nice that they’ve noticed I was punching well above my weight class for a while now. Through a fortuitous convergence of other personnel departures, the fact that I competed for the temporary position, and a few other bits of administrative minutia, it seems that all things are possible.
As is my custom, I’ll be nervous and jerky every day between now and then from knowing nothing is real until the paperwork says it’s real. I’ve been burned one too many times on that front to be fooled again. Still, fingers are well crossed in hopes that the human resource professionals don’t fine a way to foul the lines between now and the end of February.
If anyone needs me I’ll be in my corner trying not to say, do, or think anything that might somehow inadvertently change the course we’re currently following.
I have always harbored a secret belief that I was destined to do great things, to leave a memorial that I was here, something to be remembered by. I’ve never been one of those folks who believes that “as long as you’re remembered in the hearts of your family and friends, you can never really die.” What an assassinine comment. I’ve seen way to many dead people to think that when you die, you’re anything by dead. I’m not qualified, or especially interested at this stage of the game, to pontificate on issues of the soul. I figure that we’ll all find out soon enough anyway.
Still, I am occupied with chasing destiny. I’ve had ridiculous luck for as long as I can remember. The right things have always just fallen into place at the right time *knocks on wood*. I won’t ponder mortality, but can’t help but contemplate the future.