Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Don't know the status of this one, but here's where I found it.

You know you’ve got a pretty good job when the biggest part of your anxiety and job stress stems not from the work they hired you to do, but from some of the volunteer work you got roped into doing after they hired you.

Today was such a day.

I work at the RWMC – the Radioactive Waste Management Complex – part of the Idaho National Laboratory, as a technical writer. I write procedures and other documents used to handle radioactive waste and to track the fire protection program at RWMC. Thoug at times this job can be a stresser, it’s 99 percent the good kind of stress, the kind of stress that makes me function well. I love my job.

Then there’s the volunteer stuff.

I’m part of one emergency response team. When there’s an accident or incident at work, we respond as a team to coordinate everything from notifying local sheriffs departments to working with the INL Fire Department and other internal organizations to handle toe emergency event.

I’m what’s called a notification specialist – I’m basically the bridge between the team and the INL’s communications center. When we classify emergencies, it’s my job to notify the comm center as quickly as possible so they can do their notifications. That all has to take place within 15 minutes. I had to do two of those notifications today during our drill, one right on top of the other.

And I did it.

Felt good. Felt great. Of course, I went over the steps in my mind the night before, and then again on the bus coming to work today. Also brought the Lord in on it, and I feel that with the practice I put in mentally preparing myself for the job, we got it done. Glad it’s over. Glad it's over especially because each time I'm involved in a drill, I remember something Homer Simpson said about safety:

“Our safety is in the hands of people no brighter than you or I. Some of them, incompetent boobs!”

I know precisely well where I fit on the “incompetent boob” scale.

No one who works on these emergency response teams gets anything for it other than the occasional safety vest – I’ve got two now, one orange, the other purple. I’m very well-dressed for drills. The only ways out of these positions are either a job transfer that takes you away from RWMC or – and this is only half a joke – death. I’ve thought a few times it would be rather nice to get out of the position, but then I think it’s something else I can put on a resume and makes me just a teence more valuable to the company. Though that value is a relative thing.

That’s the major point of stress I have at work – the drills. So I’m hopeful I can keep working here for a long time.

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