Friday, January 11, 2008

Seeing the Small Picture

Not very long ago, I was a new Ensign in a new command. I learned quickly that my vaunted rank entitled me to the much-coveted position of “Doer-Of-Anything-The-Admin-Department-Needs”. It beats out urinalysis officer on the crappy job scale, but just barely. Taskers were frequent, fast, and furious. Depending on who they came from, they also overlapped, and had conflicting priorities. When an Army Major and a Navy Lieutenant Commander both need something done as an “A-1 Top Priority”, the value of being in two places at the same time becomes readily apparent. Did I mention that it was just me, and did not have anyone to which to delegate any task?

Didn’t think so.

Those of you who have read my bio over at the Flight Deck know that I work in the Pentagon on Reserve weekends. You are also likely aware that the building is undergoing a massive reconstruction. A manager of the project once described it as converting a black and white TV to color without ever turning it off or missing a show. Needless to say, there are construction workers there 24x7x365. Aside from those workers, a few guards, and us reservists, the place is pretty much a ghost town on weekends.

One fine Saturday morning, I was on my fifth trip up to the third floor of the Pentagon for some such thing, and I came across one of the construction workers. Part of the renovation involved building a temporary wall running down the middle of a rather long passageway (hallway). I’d guess it was about 30 yards long or so. Apparently, this wall had just been removed, leaving a rather unsightly line of adhesive all the way down deck (floor).

This particular worker’s task apparently was to remove said adhesive using a hand-held razor scraper. He had evidently just begun, because he still had about 29 of the 30 yards to go. As I passed him, I couldn’t help but be just a little jealous. His task was clearly defined, had no conflicting agendas, and had a definite end, even if it was 30 long yards away. When he finished, he would stand up, and look back down that shiny clean deck in that long passageway. He knew what he had done, and could clearly see what he had accomplished. I’d like to think that when he did walk back down that p-way, he’d stop every so often to get that last little bit of adhesive he may have missed.

When he was finally finished, he would grab his hardhat and lunch pail, go home to his family, and sleep a well-deserved sleep.

Me? I have no recollection of what I actually accomplished that day. I’m sure it was important and all, but I couldn’t see it.