Aaron circles by once, sees the second gentleman I am helping. He discovers me wrapping up with the third when he returns for an encore attempt at our morning meeting. Thankfully, it knocks out the bulk of our visitors early, and our meeting goes undisturbed, save a few responses to chatter on the radio.
“Busy already this morning?”
“It’s just Monday.” It’s odd how much I have lost interest in small talk since I met and married the Lumberjack. Visitors used to be the brightest spot in my day when I was a shiny, new employee. They still get my best service, just not too much extra chatter.
I bring my mind back to the conversation at hand knowing any thoughts of Daniel will distract me from whatever my boss is teeing up.
“And you are busy, as always. The good news is I have a solution to the current situation that we are going to put into place sooner than we anticipated.”
“Are the summer temp staff starting early, because that would be great. I could get a jump on some of the renewal paperwork for the grazing leases.”
“No, they’ll be here mid-May, and one isn’t starting until early June, plus, of course, training time, so if we rely on that support it won’t provide you with any real relief for more than a couple months.”
He pauses to sip on his mug of coffee, unsuccessfully, blows across the surface, and then tries a second time with a small taste of success.
“Do you recall the two postings that were closed at the end of December but never filled?”
“Yes,” I ask more than answer. Of course, I remember them, yet curious as to where his question is taking us.
I applied for a promotion, or rather an internal transfer, that would allow me to work in the forest. Rather than processing paperwork for grazing, and cabins, and campgrounds, and logging, I would be out in the forest inspecting those places and operations and dropping the paperwork off for someone else in the office to copy and submit and process and file.
“Did the Ranger get them to reopen the postings?” I’m hopeful, but I try not to sound too eager with my question.
Victor is the Ranger – an unofficial title for the individual who leads each ranger district. The ranger approves expenses, hiring, procedures, and handles any “buck stops here” concerns. Sure, there’s still a chain of command, but when it comes to making the big decisions, and tough choices, Victor not only makes the final call, he makes them well. I really respect him and admire his leadership.
“Yes and no. He worked with our regional partners to get funding reallocated for the second half of the fiscal year and we managed to get the dollars needed to hire a second person in the office.” An extra set of hands absolutely would be appreciated, even if it is all we can get for now.
“Do you think you can still hire someone locally to start sooner? Do you have someone in mind?” I’m excited about the prospect of a co-worker in my midst.
“We do. We think we can bring in Monica. Do you remember her?”
I met with two individuals between Thanksgiving and Christmas last year. Of the two, I liked Monica best. She arrived in Sheridan with her husband who works for the VA as a physician’s assistant. She didn’t have a lengthy resume, but she interviewed as someone who came across as completely capable and basically, someone who gets it.
The other candidate, Electra, which I still marvel that someone who choose that name for their child, was a face I would see at the local market occasionally. When I see her and she asks about the still unfilled job, I remark about how the federal tax dollars are the true decision makers when it comes to forest service hirings, which isn’t entirely untrue, but it really was a blessing that there wasn’t funding enough to extend an offer to her. Even her cashier skills are mediocre.
“I do remember Monica. Please hire Monica.” I don’t care if repeating her name sounded desperate.
“I already did.”
Yes! Yeah! A new friend to have in my corner! The possibility of having another human in my world every day might possibly make this absence from Daniel bearable. Of course, depending on when she starts.
“When does she start? I mean, when did you hire her?”
He chuckles at me, knowing I am anxious for the help. I am trying to figure out why I’m going to be busy if there will be extra help in the office.
“She starts in about fifteen minutes.”
“Oh my gosh,” escapes from my mouth because that was not the timeline I expect. He continues to laugh at me.
“Sorry,” I fumble to apologize, “that’s just a whole lot sooner than I expected you to say.”
“No, I get it. When she told me she was still available and willing to get started as soon as possible, I decided to move on her like a… well, maybe that’s not the best choice of phrases.” I’ve never known Aaron to be inappropriate or sexist, so I expect the phrase started out differently and he decided to just let it drop.
“So, I don’t have a training plan together,” I admit. “I’m not sure where to get started.” Suddenly I am overwhelmed thinking about what I need to pull together on the fly.
“Oh wait, I should probably ask if you even want me to train her.”
“Of course, I want you to train her. No offense, but no one else really has time to train her and, quite frankly, I don’t think anyone knows all the things you do here in the office over the course of your day.”
“I’m not sure that’s a compliment.”
“I don’t think it came out as one, but just take it as one anyway. Mostly it’s a shame that none of us have been able to back you up on most of the tasks here.”
It didn’t sound like much of a compliment, but I don’t need a lot of praise to still make a strong effort. Given my past performance at previous jobs, his words are completely satisfactory.
“Oh, and there is the fact that you are amazing at what you do,” he admits over the edge of his coffee cup.
Now that’s a compliment, and one I wasn’t expecting, or that I am able to easily accept. It still doesn’t sound like what people have usually told me.
“Thanks, that’s nice to hear.”
I really don’t like to dwell on praise, so I move on quickly. “It sounds like I definitely will have plenty to keep me busy for the next few weeks, well, probably for the next month or more.”
NEXT: No Secrets Here – Part 6