Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Only a Marley-ism can soothe this.

"Who are you to judge the life I live? I'm not perfect and I don't live to be. But, before you start pointing fingers, you better make sure your hands are clean." ~ Bob Marley

The thin line between:


boldly or brashly self-confident

confidence in oneself and in one's powers and abilities

1. not proud or arrogant; modest: to be humble although successful.
2. having a feeling of insignificance, inferiority, subservience, etc.
3. low in rank, importance, status, quality, etc.; lowly: of humble origin; a humble home.
4. courteously respectful: In my humble opinion you are wrong.
5. low in height, level, etc.; small in size: a humble member of the galaxy.
–verb (used with object)
6. to lower in condition, importance, or dignity; abase.
7. to destroy the independence, power, or will of.

I work in an male-oriented, ego-driven, adrenaline-pumped career. On both sides of the radio. The exception to the rule is that in this male, ego driven career, you have a lone group of women who are the first point of contact for nearly all emergencies. I have to make split, snap decisions on a regular basis and I have to be steadfastly confident in that split second. I look at some of the above definitions of "humble" and think that I would never want anyone who was low in importance, feeling insignificant, inferior, or broken of their independence answering the phone when my child stopped breathing or my sister was just assaulted. I want the person who is unquestionably confident and unshakably sure in their course of action. I want the person who believes that they are infallible to be my lifeline to safety.

I've been doing this job since I was 20 - still not old enough to drink or gamble, but old enough to be put in a position of authority. Everyone who works here has a certian set of walls that they put up to survive - it's called mental and emotional security. Mine have been built up over the years from experience both positive and negative. You have to have both to ever grow or succeed in my line of work. The entrance to getting behind my wall is on a little pathway called respect - it might seem like a small thing, but it tends to grow and reciprocate the more it is given. It is the backbone to succesful relationships in all arenas of life.

Dealing with the stress of the public is not as bad as dealing with the backbiting of the people you are supposed to call "partner". Apparently for the first time in my career, my boss has been told that I've crossed the line from self-confident to cocky. This is according to two sergeants who were solicited by my supervisor for annual feedback for my evaluation. They're anonimity is to be expected so I'll never really know who said what, but considering that there is a well-known minority of them who get called into the office on a regular basis for their negative interaction with all employees of the department, including dispatchers, I'm would bet good money that its the same chevron sleeved micro-managers that baked the anti-humble pie.

Although I hate to live true to my newly revealed label; I don't care if that's what they think of me. I will never win the popularity contest here because I don't care to be the most popular. I don't care to sit right by the door so I can make conversation with everyone who walks in the door; I'd rather sit towards the corner where the socialization of the room doesn't interrupt the ringing of 911. I care to do the things that are right and just, both internally and externally, wether or not they are the popular thing to do. I care to do the best job I can do even if it means not enabling my co-workers to slough off their responsibilities they were sworn to uphold. I care to be safe, skilled, confident, and capable of doing my job so that everyone on my watch goes home safely to their lives and their families. Highly skilled, capable, and confident - I was also labed as all those things just prior to being called "Miss Bad Ass" and "lacking humility".

It's ironic. The breaking point in my career when I feel the least amount of pride and ability in what I do and feel the most disconnected from the skills that I've had in the past is when I get labled as the cocky bad-ass who is unapproachable and lacks humility. Is it Karma? Is it Irony? Is it just bad managerial skills? I'm supposed to be learning a lesson out of this somehow, but I just don't know what.


Dear Lord, help me keep safe those who depend on me.
Give me healthy ears, for they are my link with those who need me.
Keep my mind sharp and alert, my fingers quick and nimble.
Grant that I never forget how to do ten things at once, and do them all equally well.
Bless me with patience Lord.
Patience to deal with the public, with the officers, with the firefighters, and with everyone else who makes me want to grit my teeth and yell.
Give me nerves of steel; That I may listen to a mother screaming for her child to live, the man with a gun, the family watching their home go up in flames, or a request for backup or more equipment and not give way to panic.
Grant me empathy, that I may help the caller in need,
and not cause them more pain than they already have.
God, give me the ability to learn what I need, to remember it quickly, and give me the wisdom to use the knowledge properly.
Bless my family Lord, for they will have to make sacrifices to shift work, overtime, canceled plans and times when I just can't take on one more thing.
Help them understand the missed ball games, school programs and dinners for two.
Lord, give me courage. Courage to persevere when I feel undervalued, unappreciated, overworked and unrecognized.
Courage to keep trying when I feel in my heart it's hopeless.
Last of all Lord, help me to never forget why I chose this job in the first place, to never lose sight of what is important in the midst of the stress.
Help me to remember that I make a difference;
however small it may seem some days, and that I matter.
I am a dispatcher, Lord, grant me peace.

A friend with a better perspective on these things (once a dispatcher who eventaully saw the light and is now a real-estate agent) gave me this advice:

"How did I deal with it? Hmmm...not very well since I was not healthy and stressed all the time (sound familar). But I didn't realizle it until I moved "4 states away". You have to find a way to not take it personal. Easier said than done. Don't give them any power. When you go home, they don't effect your life. Just do the best job you can, learn to get feedback that can help you and ignore what can't help you. I know you're type A like me, but in the big scheme...the eval is nothing but an annoying pimple on ur ass. Pop it and move on."

And to think...the last day I was here at work, I was feeling great about my job again. I knew it felt suspicious...I knew it!

1 comment:

  1. Feeling good about the job is in a different catagory then listening to and letting the people who criticize you affect you. Just remember what put you in this room in the first place. The drive to help and lead others should, and will in the end, out shadow the negative feedback you recieve. All you can do is come to work and do the best that you are capable of doing. If that is what makes you happy then in the end it was all worth it. The people that count in this place appreciate you, believe me. Even the thousands of nameless rps you talk to appreciate you. It's a hard job, a hard life, bad outweighs the good, but you are capable of great things.