What I actually do – part two

I work in a very small finance office and there is a lot of cross-training that goes on here. Personally, I have been running, cycling and using a rowing machine, but after I’m done with that, I’m expected to learn other areas of expertise in the office, or “cross-learn” as I like to call it.

Most of my “cross-learning” has been in the area of travel. It’s a very interesting part of the office where I work, and something I just completely overlooked in my thinking about what this experience was going to be like. Steve, a guy from Phoenix, was working as the Travel Supervisor when I got here. He’s a great guy to work with, and I was amazed that he was able to absorb all the crazy minute details of the job. For all intensive purposes he and his team of four other DynCorp employees, are an internal travel agency for all the people here at the camp.

Each employee gets time off that he or she can spend here at the camp. That’s lame, so the company pays for certain trips home and to other regional destinations. They will fly you to your Home Of Record (HOR – but a classy one) or to a Regional (REG) destination like Dubai or the Maldives. So all of those flight arrangements must be handled through my office, and guess who has two thumbs and took over when Steve left? This accountant right here.

I can’t be bitter though. Steve left to go home for the summer and then he’s going to Edinburgh, Scotland (pronounced “Edinburgh” – with a Scottish accent that doesn’t translate well) to go to college, and I’m happy for him. He’s studying the fine art of complaining about how your area of land should be its own country with a flag made of a pair of plaid pants. I’m not joking. That’s a real degree there. TAKE IT EASY SCOTTISH READERS! I KNOW it’s not plaid pants – it’s that plaid dress you’re all so fond of.

But in any case, I’m now doing Steve’s job, which almost makes it sound like I’m intimately involved with the founder of Apple Computer, but it only sounds like that – I could only be so lucky . . . . Where was I? Right. I’m responsible for the same duties that Steve was responsible for completing on a daily basis (that sounds better, but I still said “duties.”)

Organizing flights all over the world to get the employees back home and to a place where they can relax and among other things, drink a ton of alcohol, is very challenging. Add to the flight booking all the changes that have to be made as situations come up. The airport could be shut down due to terrorist threats or wild-west style shootings by disgruntled pilots. AirIndia’s entire workforce could go on strike. Each day, people departing and arriving must be escorted to and from the airport in armored convoys. And on the way home, long layovers mean hotel stays which mean stops in exotic places with less than exotic methods of transportation to and from the hotel. It’s very exciting and very entertaining.

So that’s a little taste of some of the other things that I get to do while I’m over here. My coworkers in the travel department are from the Philippines, Zimbabwe and Afghanistan. The sheer number of foreign accents is mind boggling. Ever hear an African try to discuss minute flight details with an Indian from Delhi while an Afghani tries to talk in his other ear? It’s big fun, and there’s no telling who is really funny and who isn’t because all the parties are struggling to understand the other. And strangely enough, they all try talking louder and slower. It’s a universal solution . . .

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