Sunday, December 18, 2011

the question

Think about your job. Now think of the question you get the most from people who aren't familiar with your profession. If you're a psychologist, it might be, "Do you always analyze people around you?" (I confess: I asked a psychologist this once. He said no. But I think he really was).

"Do you fly the helicopter?" and "Do you jump out of the helicopter?" are probably numbers two and three on my question list. The answers are: no, the pilot does, and no, you must have watched the movie Firestorm. The main question people always seem to ask me is, "What do you do in the winter?"

Howie in smokejumper gear, ready to jump out of a helicopter instead of a plane for some reason. Love you anyway, Howie!

This question makes me cringe, because well, it's not that interesting. I sit in a cubicle. This is where I write aviation plans, work on hiring people, have conference calls, and plan helicopter training. Occasionally there is the excitement of a hard drive crash and the subsequent torturous "re-imaging" process. There are also many, many meetings, including video conferences in which several of us sit in unflatteringly lit rooms by ourselves all over the state staring at each other on large TVs, resembling some sort of odd, multi-subject police interrogation or job interview.

What gets me through these days are two things. One is knowing that all these plans I write, all these meetings, and all this training I organize make it possible for us to have the sweet days of summer flying over the wilderness and seeing the mountains from the sky. The other is the rare winter mission, a helicopter flight to look for wolverine tracks or to take a radio tech to a malfunctioning repeater.

I'm not complaining, though. I know I'm lucky to have a full-time job with benefits, the holy grail of government employment that we wanted when we were seasonals. So in my cubicle, I enjoy the little things. A snowy owl perched on a light post in the parking lot. Someone's happiness when I offer them a job. An email from a friend. I plan climbing trips (on my lunch break of course, Forest FMO if you are reading). Sometimes I leave early on a perfect afternoon for a snowy run or a short trip to the ski hill.

So that's my question, and there's the answer. What's yours?

Playing in the snow on a "work day"

1 comment:

  1. "Oh, you work from home! YOu're so lucky! Do you get to a) write on your novel b) work whenever you want to, c) goof off and make brownies and mow the lawn?"

    Um. No.


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