Archive for August 19th, 2007

The Captain Hates Explaining What He Does

Days Until I Am Married:  55

Current Weight:  172

As I have mentioned before, my career goal is to eventually become a City Manager.  There are numerous reasons why I find this job attractive, but perhaps the most basic reason is this:  The easy explanation of my job.  I’ve always hated having to explain my job.

My entire professional career I have never had a job that is easy to describe to a stranger.  When someone asks what it is I do for a living, I inevitably have to oversimplify my job or give a long explanation.  I usually end up saying “I work for local government,” or I give my job title.  Neither one of these statements explains squat about my actual job.

It seems to me that all most people are looking for is a vague idea of my profession.  This is why I’ve always desired an easily explainable job.  Teachers, lawyers, chefs and doctors can answer this question with a few words.  My hatred of job explanations stretches back to when I was a kid.  My mom was a nurse, which sounds noble and is very easy to explain.  My dad had an extremely complicated job that involved updating computers systems.  When asked of about my father’s profession I would inevitably shrug and say “Computers.”1

I currently have the best job of my entire career, and by far the most difficult to explain.  I now don’t even have the luxury of saying “I’m in local government”.  The best I can say is “I’m a governmental consultant.”  That sounds about as legit as “I’m a venture capitalist” or “I’m an importer/exporter.”

I’m so excited about my new job, but there is no simple or quick way to explain what I do to anyone.  So with this in mind, I have decided to explain my job in blog form with the hopes that this will reduce the number of times I am required to have this conversation.  Feel free to skip the next paragraph if you are not interested, I take no offense.

I work for the consulting that is hired by cities and counties here in Florida to assist in set up special taxing districts for local governments.  Special taxing districts are a way that local governments can tax their residents for specific services.  The State Legislature of Florida is currently severely limiting the ways that local governments can collect tax dollars.  This makes my companies’ services quite useful right now.  So, to make a long story short2, I will be working with several local governments to help them set up these special taxing units.

What this means practically is that I will be doing a lot of travel to cities across Florida to meet with local government leaders.  This is quite exciting to me.  The job I had between college and grad school involved a lot of travel, and I really enjoyed it.3 I find business travel a great way to break-up the monotony of the work week.  I’ll be traveling anywhere from 1-3 days a week, sometimes driving and sometimes flying.

I went on my first work trip this week and I already love it.  I flew into Orlando on Wednesday, spent the nite, and flew back to Tallahassee on Thursday.  I had quite a rare experience while waiting for my flight in the Orlando airport on Thursday.  I discovered something that horrified and excited me at the same time.4 At the Orlando airport on Thursday I signed up for the CLEAR program, which made me want to rejoice and barf at the same time.

The CLEAR program is being tested at a few big airports across the country, i.e. New York, San Francisco.  CLEAR is basically a VIP line for security checkpoints at the airport.  I pay about a hundred bucks and give the company an insane amount of info about myself and in exchange I get to breeze through security checkpoints.

First off, I can’t really believe that this is legal.  I can’t believe with the massive level of scrutiny that is currently associated with airport security that TSA is going to make it easier for some people to get though checkpoints.  Granted, I am required to provide a ton of information about myself to qualify for the program, including a passport, birth certificate, fingerprinting and even a retinal scan!  This information is combined with an exhaustive background check that is required for my approval into the program.  Once approved, I get a little card in the mail and I’m on my way to skipping the line.

This is troublesome to me on several levels.  All any of the information that is collected can really prove is that I am who I say I am.  This has nothing to do with my proclivity for doing bad things on an airplane.  Sure, it can tell security what I’ve done in the past, but is that really enough?  Timothy McVeigh, the DC Sniper, Richard Reed and the Unabomber probably could have gotten one of these cards.  This possibly could make it easier for nefarious people to do horrible things using airplanes.  Is that worth it just so a couple of business travelers can catch a plane faster?

On a practical level, I don’t really think a governmental sanctioned VIP line is fair.  One of the cornerstones of our government is that it treats all citizens equally.  Like the post office and the DMV, airport security has always been a place where everyone has to wait in the same line.  The people in suits flying first class may get to board the plane first, but they have to wait in the same line as the mom with the screaming baby.  Granted, really rich people can simply charter a plane or use a private airport and skip the whole process.  However, the point is that people wishing to use public airports are all subjected to the same process.  This could be the start of a disturbing trend.

Of course none of these reservations about the program prevented me from applying for a CLEAR card.  A chance to skip the regular security line is just too sweet and opportunity to pass up.  My whole life I’ve never really been the VIP type.  I’m usually waiting in line like everyone else.

Given the chance to skip something as awful as the airport security line is just too tempting.  If Dumbledore couldn’t give up the Elder Wand then how am I supposed to turn this down?  He’s ten times wiser than I’ll ever be!  I’m actually going to be flying in and out of the Orlando quite a bit in the near future, and this will make my life a whole lot easier.  So next time you’re in the Orlando airport and you see some assbag in a suit cutting the security line, feel free to call me a sellout.

Besides traveling, I spent the week hitting the gym trying to get back on my exercise routine.  The elliptical machine and I are best friends again.  As is typical during my first week of exercise, I somehow gained a pound.  This used to infuriate me, but it has happened so many times that I now just find it amusing.  My legs are sore and I’m sleeping better at nite, so something must be working.

All in all I had a great second week at my new job.  Establishing a routine really helps me with time-management, and traveling helps to break up the monotony that inevitably comes with a routine.  I really feel that my new job is perfect for me, but please don’t ask me to explain why.


The Captain

1  A trend that continues to this day…

2  Too late…

3  That is until I eventually burned out due to the gigantic workload piled on me by my crazy boss.

4  The last time I felt these same emotions about something was the first commercial I saw for Flavor of Love.

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