What a Week!

This week, beginning Monday, June 24th, would have been a good one for a Valium prescription. 

On Monday, I got the word that the biopsy I had was benign.  Note:  that isn’t the same thing as “negative”.  It was something, that something just wasn’t cancer.  As one of my friends said, champagne all around! 

Tuesday, in the context of the rest of the week, was a snoozer. 

Wednesday, the City Commission made it official:  my company has been awarded the contract for the next five years with five one-year options to keep doing what we’re doing.  I get to keep my job for 5-10 years, well, assuming I don’t do something to screw it up in the meantime. 

The next morning, an article came out in the newspaper headlined “First company to benefit from City’s local preference program is not local”.  Or something to that effect.  Here’s the deal:  in a bid process, local companies get extra points.  So to win, other companies must obtain higher scores in other areas to compensate.  I learned only through the article that this is a “pilot” program for one year, enacted by the City Commission.  (Aren’t we lucky that our contract came up for bid during this particular year?) I understand the rationale, and their hearts are in the right place, but there’s an extent to which they didn’t think it through.  Nevertheless, I’m not complaining. 

The article went on to say that my company is a national one headquartered elsewhere, with only a “branch” office located here.  They interviewed the City’s Director of Management and Administration (translation:  a demi-god.  The Mayor, the Commissioners, and the City Manager are the Olympians.  Below them are only a few people whose word is essentially law:  the City Attorney, the Treasurer, and the Director of DMA.)  In other words, if an issue reaches them and they make a decision, you can fight City Hall all you want, but you will lose.  Actually if you want to fight City Hall, your best bet is with the Commissioners and the Mayor, because they’re elected.  You may not think this is fair, or right, but it’s the way it is.  If you choose to ignore the way it is, then you will become Sisyphus, perpetually pushing that rock up the hill.  You should go sit down somewhere and have a beer, which you can cry into. 

So the Director of DMA said, we don’t care if they’re a national company.  We asked that they have a local office which has been established for at least six months prior to the bid; that they have a business license; and that they have full-time local employees.  They qualify.  Any more questions?  (Time to have that beer.)

My assistant manager asked, “Why is this news?”  It was on the “consent” agenda.  There was no discussion of it in the Commission meeting.  No dispute.  The Commission essentially rubber-stamped it.  So why would the newspaper waste space on it?  I said, You poor, deluded, naive, baby soul.  No, I did not say that really.  What I said was, items in the newspaper are generated by complaints; it’s similar to the way Animal Control works.  They aren’t out there cruising to find violations–they rely on citizens reporting violations.  There is no doubt in my mind that the company which came closest to us generated this.  They were smart enough to know they didn’t have a leg to stand on with the City, but thought they would get a little jab in on the way out.  You can’t really blame them.  (But it’s time for THEM to go have a beer.)

When I came home that same day, there had been an enormous deadfall in the back yard (there had been a thunderstorm during the day).  Oh no.  Yard Guy will not be able to simply hook this one to the back of his truck and haul it off. 

It ends just short of the birdfeeder.  Nature made a handy stepladder for the squirrels. 

BUT…that same evening, just before dark, I looked out the kitchen window and there was an enormous owl sitting on the birdfeeder pole.  It’s only the second time in my life I’ve ever seen an owl in the wild.  It turned out to be a barred owl. 

I tried to creep out so I could see it better without the window in between, but of course as soon as it saw me it flew away.  Majestic does not begin to describe it.  It looked like an airplane flying away.  They have wing spans of three to four feet.  I was in awe. 

So that’s what I mean about the Valium prescription.  In the space of four days, I went from euphoria to profound anxiety to great relief to Oh No! to awe.  Theoretically speaking, it seems like it would have been a great idea to mute the highs and cushion the lows.  But, I believe this is what we call “life”.  You don’t get to choose when it happens to you–it’s happening all the time.

6 responses to “What a Week!

  1. > I get to keep my job for 5-10 years,


    As for that local preference, you know what they say where the road paved with good intentions leads. Some cities actually give a price preference, which means the local business can charge more than a non-local and still win, which means taxpayers pay more.

    If it’s a $200,000 contract with a 5% local preference, then the local can charge an additional 4% and still win. That’s $8,000 of our tax dollars that could have been used elsewhere.

    I deal with federal money; the feds prohibit the use of local preference.
    That big Franklin Blvd flood control project is funded from $10 million my office gave the County for hurricane disaster recovery. No local preference will be allowed.

  2. I am actually pleased to hear that, spencercourt, that the feds prohibit local preference. It’s a seriously stupid idea. Like I said their hearts were in the right place, or more likely, their desires to be re-elected were in the right place. There are certain things that it doesn’t pay to give preference to. Like or not, there are times when the expertise to accomplish whatever the task is does not exist locally. So giving an advantage to a company for being local is not necessarily the best choice. You end up with Bubba’s Construction Company. Looks good in the headlines, though. And don’t get me started about MBE.

  3. Love the owl, thanks for that pic:)

    So FN you have dodged the bullet of job change, barring unlikely intervention. If it were me and I were you I would say “self what have you learned and what will you do about it?” When is it time to prepare for change? How can you manage to maximize what you want your life to be like at age (fill in the blank). You know your companies business model could change if the business community ever wakes up to the cost benefits of working from home. We won’t need parking garages so much without cars on the road.

    Anyway congrats on surviving another challange.

  4. Thanks, pt. As embarassing as it is to admit, I am seriously flawed when it comes to planning for the future, if it’s further away than an hour from now, or possibly, tomorrow. I’m relieved that by the time our first five years on the new contract runs out, I’ll be old enough to retire…almost. My client, the person I report to in the City, will be retiring at the end of that 5 years. I need at least one more year, so I need to make it through that first option year. The odds of that are pretty good, though, since whoever takes over for my client will probably not want to make any changes right off the bat.
    But many things can change in that 6 years. One of the reasons I have trouble preparing for the future, because, being the future, it’s so unpredictable. I can’t seem to come up with a plan that covers every eventuality. Plus, as time has passed, my past poor planning has narrowed my options. .
    I will have to disagree with you about the necessity of parking garages. It’s like solar power–it will not replace fossil fuels in my lifetime. And there will always be jobs that cannot be done from home (and therefore, cannot be outsourced–the good news).

  5. Oh, and about the owl 🙂 I had no idea what kind it was until I went the Google route. It’s a funny thing about bird identification. True story: Fakesister and I were at the beach once and we saw a bird, which we tried to memorize so we could look it up later. Then along came a bona fide bird watcher (with a telescope, even!) and Fakesister worked up the courage to ask him what kind of bird it was. She said, it was about 6 inches long and had yellow legs. No, no, no, I said. It was about half that size with black legs. Or something to that effect. So much for memory 🙂 And so much for eyewitness testimony 🙂 Anyway, it turned out it was a sanderling. We both agreed to accept the word of the real bird watcher person. He then let us use his telescope to view an oyster catcher out on the mudflats–the first and only time I’ve ever seen one.
    So there I was, peering through my kitchen window trying to memorize the features of this owl, knowing how unreliable my memory would be later. But as soon as I saw it on the Internet, I knew I was right. Why? Because the thing I remembered vividly was that its eyes were like big black circles on its face. And it turns out that the barred owl is the only owl with black eyes. All the others are yellow.

  6. I love that photo of the barred owl. I mean, take a look at those talons. You do not want to be on the business end of them.

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