Sunday, August 31, 2008

Life Lessons

Yesterday we had a dinner with people who arrived in Iceland not long ago. It is always interesting to learn about first impressions of newcomers, their encounters with local cuisine, adjustments to the weather. Considering that this family was previously posted on the border of Mexico, where gunshots accompanied their daily life, they really cherish the security and quietness of Iceland.

Conversations flew from tales of various countries to unavoidable topics of maneuvering through the hoops and loops of the regulations, dealing with bureaucracy which is the bane of FS existence. This brought to mind one encounter that taught me to be cautious.

Two years ago I worked in the Human Resources office of one of the embassies. During the summer, a major period of peoples’ turn over, a summer intern arrived from DC. He had to fill out a nightmarish amount of paper work, in which I assisted him as best I could, but dealing with the intricacies of his pay proved to be even more complicated. After several weeks all necessary paperwork was done, but as often happens he had to wait quite a long time for his first pay. At some point I bumped into him in the embassy’s coffee shop. He complained about getting low on cash, I jokingly answered, “Well, if you run out of cash, stop by my office, I will scrape something together for your cup of coffee.” We parted our ways and I returned to my workplace.
In a matter of several minutes an email appeared in my inbox addressed to my boss and cc-ing me, “Mrs. C was very helpful in dealing with my paperwork; she also mentioned today the possibility of some financial help from the embassy. Please, let me know how it can be arranged.”
The call from my boss inviting me to her office followed immediately. Needless to say, I learnt my lesson, “Always be on guard and resist the temptation to be nice.”

No comments: