Thursday, December 13, 2018

Stumbling my way through…

People who live on land have made this getting back to land thing far more difficult than it needs to be. Out on the water people tend to take your word for things. People “buddy boat” for weeks or months starting out with just a simple agreement between two crews who, likely, hardly know each other. They start to respect each other pretty quickly when making joint decisions on weather and routing. Should one boat run into some kind of trouble, the other will step up and help in every way possible. Often, in our experience, “buddies” will go far above and beyond what would be expected to get their new friends out of whatever jam they have found themselves in. Such is born without so much as a handshake, just people meeting, talking, finding they have a common goal, and then agreeing to help each other along for while. Which is sort of what it should be like to have a job.

No one thinks that the other crew might be lying about their level of experience, no one doubts that the stories told are basically true. It must be admitted that sailors are at least as good as those who fish at telling stories, but somehow that gets taken into account and all is well. No one thinks that the story will be exaggerated to the point where claims of knowledge and ability are being exaggerated. In fact it is often the other way around. People who have had thousands upon thousands of miles slip under their keels, with more stamps in their passports than most people have bills, are almost shy about their adventures. Telling tales is one thing, baseless and exaggerated boasting quite another. Rarely have I seen the latter among the cruising community.

One of our first buddy boats

That level of trust is seen in other ways. During our years on the water, we often helped out another crew with some mechanical problem. It was never necessary to offer proof that I knew enough to help. It was just assumed that I would help as much as I could, or at least not make matters worse.

Ah, but moving to land…

We bought a car. Part of that buying process involves getting it registered. Part of that registration process means listing an address. We don’t yet have an official address in Missouri, even though this is where I am currently living and where the job is located. We listed the address of the apartment we have a tentative agreement to lease. But we can’t sign that lease until I can prove I have a job. So, when the official job offer came in my email I forwarded it to the leasing office. The email, rightly so, didn’t actually have a benefits package or pay scale listed and so wasn’t good enough for the leasing office. Now I have to take a paper copy of the benefits package to the leasing office. I can tell them how much I will be making over the phone, but that isn’t good enough either. They need to see a piece of paper. In the meantime the car registrations ended up going to a place where we don’t actually live yet, and have since disappeared into the unknown. Surely ours are not the first registrations ever lost and we will be able to get duplicates. And just as surely it will be a pain in the ass, having to prove to some agent somewhere that I am who I say I am and I actually own the car they already know I own.

Then there is the background check. My resume goes back roughly 45 years. The contract company doing the background check sent me an email. They couldn’t verify that I actually attended the tech school I attended right out of High School in order to start my career, and insisted I send some kind of document. Oddly enough, my graduation certificate was actually near at hand. I took a picture of it and posted it in an email, a picture anyone halfway competent with photo shop could likely fabricate in less than 5 minutes. But it made them happy. Now though, they can’t verify that I actually worked at one company for eight years. They can verify the first five years, after that? Nada. They want me to contact the IRS, come up with some documents, and email them along. I will do it of course, but I thought the whole idea of a background check was to independently verify the claimed background. If you are going believe in the documents I send that can easily be fabricated, why not just believe my resume in the first place? The really weird thing, those last 3 years were spent flying with the person who brought me to this job, a person who as been a FS instructor for more than 5 years. If they want to verify I worked there, all they have to do is ask him. Hell, we went to Flight Safety together at least twice in those last three years for recurrent training.

Land living apparently makes one skeptical of everything and everybody. Nothing is taken at face value, no one’s word is good, everyone is assumed to be running some kind of scam. I guess that is understandable, just look around. The land lets people get away with things, things big water would use to administer a major smackdown.

All who live out on big water face the same challenges, deal with the same kinds of problems, have to have mastered the same basic skills. There is no where to hide when things go awry, and when they do everyone caught tends to work together; first to survive, then to recover. When cruisers meet it is something they know that they share. Somehow big water has infused much of the cruising community with a basic honesty.

Something I never thought about much until heading back to land, and something I really, really miss at the moment.


Jeffrey Michals-Brown said...

Red tape, procedures, rules, paperwork. Pretty typical, I'm afraid. And the bigger the organization, the more there is. I was just hired by the US Postal Service. There were several official "tests" along the way, but another, unofficial, test was that of patience: did I have enough to wade through the duplicative info entered into multiple secure websites? It's not about "convincing" actual humans of your experience, etc--it's about compiling the required paperwork, so that all butts are appropriately covered.

Mike Boyd said...

I'd say welcome to the real world...but to me the world you are leaving behind seems far more real. Hope your time back in the working mans world goes as pleasantly as possible and your cruising kitty overflows as soon as possible!

TJ said...

"Test of patience." I like that Jeffery, thanks. It is a good approach to making a little sense out of the need requirement to jump though hoops. Good practice too, since the aviation industry is hoop filled and, for many perspectives, rightly so. When perfect is just barely good enough generating a bunch of hoops is unavoidable.

Mike, truth to tell I try not to think about it too much. This was a choice that was the right one to make for where we are now and what we want to do later. I think it helps that I am back working "in the sky." It is simulated sky, but the skills needed by those I will be teaching are as real a necessity as those needed on the ocean. We had to fill a nearly empty cruising kitty, but I think this is going to prove to be a job worth doing just on its own merits. I am both thankful and humbled that it came along when it did, and intend to approach it with the same determination to get it right as when we moved onto the boat. With any luck it will go a little smoother this time around.