Four Random Career Tales

For many of us who work in an office setting our days bring an element of predictability.  We check into the job either physically or sometimes remotely these days, analyze and evaluate data, talk with customers, and maybe attend meetings.  There are of course deviations and crises that occur, but for the most part we have a general idea of what awaits us. 

Except, you still never know what a day may bring.

Many years ago I was the HR Director for a small municipality.  It was about the time that illicit drugs were becoming a national scourge and many communities sought and received state and federal funds dedicated to narcotic eradication units, otherwise known as drug task forces.  These agencies tended to operate undercover with Police Officers infiltrating drug rings.  I knew the Commander of our task force and mentioned to him that if ever an opportunity came about I would enjoy observing their work.

One sunny morning the Commander phoned me and said, “we’re going in.”  “Going in where?” I asked.  “Raid,” he responded.  “Get your butt down to the Police Station…now!”  I honestly don’t know what I was thinking, but with adrenaline pumping motored over in a quick five minutes.  Upon arrival the Commander was in the parking lot holding a flak jacket that appeared to be just my size.  “What’s this for?”  I asked.  “In case there’s trouble,” he replied. 

Another ten minute drive took us to a wooded residential neighborhood.  When we arrived officers in windbreakers with “POLICE” labeled on the back had surrounded a home, guns drawn, and shouting out a warning, “open up or we’re kicking it in.”  The Commander beckoned me to sink down to the floor of the truck we were in.  Once the suspect was successfully apprehended he motioned for me to exit the vehicle in order to search personal artifacts in hope we would identify contraband.  Sure enough, a bag of cocaine was found in a car that we had combed through.

Whew!  You never know what a day may bring.

A few years before that when I was quite new in that same position, our Director of Emergency Operations needed a Public Information Officer, otherwise known as a PIO.  He explained that I would respond to the news media in an emergency, but that in our relatively peaceful neck of the woods he really was not expecting an occurrence of any magnitude. 

Several months later torrential flooding caused a river to flow out of its banks.  A school bus of over 40 teens and counselors attempted to evacuate a rapidly flooding summer camp early in the morning of the days prior to early flood warning systems.  The bus became caught in the river and the passengers abandoned it.  Some made it safely to shore; others were swept downstream and latched on to trees or any other nearby solid object such as a tree.  Through the efforts of a host of brave rescue workers many were rescued; unfortunately 11 lost their lives. 

Not only local media, but national networks and agencies such as Associated Press and CNN were on the scene.  This young PIO was left to answer questions in the midst of what could best be characterized as emotions running the gamut from tragedy and despair to hope and gratefulness. 

You never know what a day may bring.

Frustrated job seekers would sometimes assert themselves and ask to speak to the HR Director.  That was me in this instance several years ago.  The applicant explained that he had filled out an application several times and had not experienced success in landing a coveted position.  He asked what I was going to do about it.  I went through the usual, “we will review your application again and determine what you are best matched for, however, there are several thousands of applications and only about 100 available positions, etc.”  He then proceeded to offer me a “gentleman’s agreement of some means.”  My response, “that’s a bribe for a job.”  He begged to differ saying these gentleman’s agreements are “done all the time and I should understand.” 

He was escorted out of the office.  Oh, and he didn’t get the job.

You never know what a day may bring.

Finally, in my very first year in HR I was assigned to plan and execute my company’s annual management meeting, which was typically a fairly high-end affair at an upscale restaurant.  It was for the purpose of reviewing the organization’s finances, production, and safety, none of which seemed to be very stellar at the time.  Not knowing much of what to expect, I planned the event with things seemed going relatively well until one of the department manager’s reached a point of fairly high inebriation and proceeded to say what was really on his mind.  Fortunately senior management stepped in and abruptly ceased the evening’s activities.  Not exactly what I signed on for.

Again, you never know what a day may bring. 

As we head into Thanksgiving in a couple of weeks, I hope your days bring you fulfillment, prosperity, and as much excitement as you can stand.  Thanks for reading.

The Seed Sower


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