Spent a week in Boston at a conference for our group of docs. We gathered from around the world. 27 or so of us. It was great to be able to meet people who’ve been doing this job for the last 15 or 16 years.
There were also quite a few new folks as our service is growing, so it was also good to get their perspective on what it’s like to be a new person in this job. Their successes. Their struggles. All were keen to offer tips and I felt fortunate to be able to attend.
A lot of these docs are involved in a lot of really interesting things. Some have helped in hostage recovery. Some have helped in relief of natural disasters. Several spoke of being involved after the Westgate Mall shootings in Nairobi.
It makes you tune into the news with a different ear. While in Boston, the news was full of the Boko Haram kidnappings. We heard a U.S. Senator pledge that the U.S. was going to send assistance including “mental health assets”
One of us newbies remarked, “I wonder what they mean by that” to which an older doc said, “That would be you. You’re the mental health asset.” We’re all that close to the next headline.
To a person, they all said that this was the coolest job in the world.
And it is, or it seems to be when you hear about all the exciting stuff. Then there are days like yesterday where everything is a hassle.
Not coming from a bureaucratic background it is a struggle to try and wend one’s self around in this big conglomeration. And, I’m told that the foreign service is small on the government scale.
I’m reminded of those video games where you’re given a quest and nothing but some rudimentary tools that seem useless at the beginning. You start out just wandering around bumping into walls and picking up random objects.
Then you discover that if you bang on trees, coins fall out so you bang on all the trees you can find and you upgrade your rudimentary tools. You find people to give you bad information and others who are gurus. You hang on their every word.
You finally complete some task and run back to the beginning to get your reward or move on to the next level.
This is similar to what it takes to get reimbursed for expenses. Fill out a form. Send it in. Form is rejected without explanation. Tweak form. Resubmit. Rejected again with cryptic feedback. Seek guidance from helper who’s assigned to help you. Receive silent shrug. Seek guidance from guru who instructs you to put form back how you had it the first time. Resubmit. Wait. Success! Why? “I don’t know”
So, I guess even the coolest job in the world has gotta have it’s downsides. Just got to learn to shake those trees.