Saturday, July 14, 2007

Working for the Weekend

I had forgotten how hard it is to start a new job. And it becomes doubly hard when you're starting over a new life too. But for some reason, I suspect that starting a new job at my new organization is harder than most, for a number of reasons

1. The cliquishness: Everyone has to go through a 10day orientation session when they join and go to the field. They spend the days together and the nights together and get drunk and argue and share their fears about heading into the conflict zones. It's like boot camp for humanitarian workers. But headquarters staff do not need to do this. Add that missing experience to the fact that while you've been in the field - you haven't been in the field with them. There is an automatic forged bond that most have that I'm missing with them.

2. the Machisom: Everyone who works there is macho. From the women operational managers who stomp down the halls in their heavy boots, tight jeans, chunky jewelry, and wizened cigarette stained faces to the men in their casual "REI" fleece jackets, jeans, long sleeve tees, tevas, and their unshaven, rumpled style. All the women complain that noone cares about gender-based violence and the men parade their knowledge of the different armed groups. Hard drinking, hard smoking types. An emergency "bombardment" box of supplies contains a box of Marlboro lights and a bottle of Jack Daniels because noone under siege would want to have to deal with the others undergoing nicotine and alcohol withdrawal. And I work in the 'soft' girly section so I have strike two for being not macho.

3. the Dutch attitude: Very blunt. Outspokenness. argumentative even. Yet not really appreciative if you don't agree with them. Friendly enough but not outgoing. Curious but a bit aloof. Content to allow strangers to sit alone. Probably allowing them to have their own space in this overcrowded country where privacy is at a premium. So, if you are feeling tired or shy or intimidated by the macho cliquishness, don't expect any sympathy from them.

4. the Weather: overcast. a bit cool. Tendency to burst into thunderstorms at a moments notice. Yet when the sun comes out - everyone is transformed. But in general, you keep your head down. you do your work. And you dream of your warm cozy home where you can get away from work. So no need to linger for chats with new people. No long DC happy hours every week. the weather conspires to make you long for home.

1 comment:

  1. Hang in there, Sarah. I'm proud of you and your move to the Netherlands. Be safe and continue your updates on your blog here. They're fun and informative to read.