17 August, 2006

Meeting the Big Guy

[For the sake of the nosy Google-bot, I must be vague. My apologies for how it detracts from the story].

As described here, I recently made some excellent contacts among the local branch of our fine military. This resulted in my receiving a summons from a member of the leadership of the local mil-hospital.

The meeting was today and it went well. But in typical FbL style nothing is ever that simple. Knowing that fact, I alotted myself nearly twice the travel time needed. I figured that would give me at least half an hour to get lost and still have time to put on some makeup in the parking lot. Unfortunately, yesterday I had removed the wallet that usually resides in my car 24/7.

Problem number one: halfway there I realized I didn't have my wallet (ID) with me.

Problem number two: I was thirsty (had coins in ashtray).

I arrived with over 30 minutes to spare and figured I'd slip around the corner to a nearby intersection to solve problem number two.

Dumb move.

Very dumb move. The streets near the hospital do NOT run at right angles, nor are they consistently two-way streets. Add a tangle of two major freeways and FbL's sense of direction... and it goes downhill from there.

Knowing I might possibly be a little bit late as I wandered in a haze of one-way and dead-end streets, I tried to call Big Guy's office and let them know of my possible tardiness as well as ask them if they would call down to the gate to let me pass without ID. Unfortunately I only had the phone number of the main switchboard (Big Guy's number was in my email). After literally 10 minutes on hold with the switchboard, during which I finally found my way to the security gate with two minutes to spare, the following occurred:

Big, Intimidating MP with Uncaring Expression: ID, please.

FbL: (hands over face) I don't have it! And I have a meeting with Big Guy and I'm running late!

BIMPUE: You don't have any ID?

FbL: No

BIMPUE: Then you can't enter.

FbL: ...


FbL: There's no way to get in?

BIMPUE: Not without ID.

FbL: How about if I have Big Guy's office call down here?

BIMPUE: (obviously humoring FbL, almost rolling eyes) If you can get him to call down and verify, sure...

I spent the next 5+ minutes on the phone with my mother, talking her through getting into my email and finding Big Guy's phone number. Meanwhile I'm thinking to myself: Late to meeting with Big Guy where I'm supposed to impress him with my stellar character and competence? I think I'll just kill myself now and get it over with.

Two minutes after I call Big Guy's office, an impressive-looking MP steps out of the guard shack with a phone to his ear. Contact is made and permission is given. MP asks me if I know where Big Guy's office is. Turns out it's moved. He tells me exactly where to go and to park right outside the office, adding "I'll call up and tell my guys to leave your vehicle alone."

I whip into the parking space outside the door, grab my organizer, and run my fingers through my hair as I jump out of the car. Another MP steps out of the doorway on cue and offers to escort me down the two flights of stairs to the office. I arrive seven minutes late, feeling like I'm gonna throw up.

And here's the miracle: Big Guy's still sitting in a meeting and Secretary is debating whether or not to interrupt him 10 minutes after I arrive! He never knew I was late. *whew!* I had time to take a few deep breaths and try to loosen the knot in my stomach.

But it's not over... sitting in his office moments before he walks in I glance down at my multi-strand beaded necklace. One single dark strand is hanging by one end straight down over my white blouse. I reach for it and yank it off, spilling tiny little glass beads down my blouse and into the chair. I fold up the metal strand and stick it into my organizer as he walks in, standing up to greet him and praying that I managed to shake all those little beads into the chair before I stand up and they bounce along the floor (they stayed in the chair).

Actually, the meeting itself went very well. He obviously knew my resume inside and out. He handed me off to the person coordinating the volunteer activity for a special new ward in the hospital after a few minutes of conversation, saying that several things I'd said jumped out at him as indicating that was where I should be. I'm thrilled because that is exactly what I would like to be doing.

We talked about my desire to make a career of military personnel/family advocacy or support. He gave me some advice and said that volunteering and networking as I am is exactly what I should be doing. He also said he'd keep his eyes open and share my resume. I have definitely found a supporter in him, which still floors me when I think of it.

The tension I'd built over the day didn't unwind until about 10 minutes after I got home.... and then I crashed. I can't remember the last time I was so utterly, bone-meltingly exhausted!

But I think I'll call the day a success. :)

P.S. Lesson learned? Always have Big Guy's direct phone number at hand.