I went in to work for a bit yesterday, to have some think time without people telling me things or asking me to do things. This will probably continue until I feel that I have stuff under control. It's actually stress-relieving for me, though I do have to have down time as well.
Today we went to Clearwater Beach for a while. I don't know how much longer we have to do that, or how bad it will get. The water and the sand were pristine as always, but every now and then when the wind was strong out of the gulf we caught a faint but unpleasant hydrocarbon smell. Maybe it was from somebody's boat somehow. Have never smelled it there before, though. I looked at little kids enjoying themselves as they always do. The thought that they may be my age before the beach and the ocean are returned to their current state - well, it's hard not to feel helpless rage and almost overwhelming grief. Maybe, MAYBE it won't be as bad as all that - but it will be miraculous if it is not.
And the rage part comes from the fact that this environmental disaster is 100% man-made. The stories that are coming out about fighting between groups on that rig, no clear line of command, corruption in what was supposed to be the governmental oversight agency, safety rules being arbitrarily set aside because they were behind schedule, are - well, I'd say unbelievable, but I know better. You can have the best safety program in the world, and it all comes down to personalities: whether the human beings in charge at the time actually care, what their priorities are, how likely they are to engage in magical thinking when they're under financial pressure, whether the right people are stong enough to push their point until it sticks; and that kind of thing is almost random, I'm sorry to say. I've seen corporate people who were excruciatingly careful about keeping their standards of integrity front and center at all times, and I've seen corporate people who didn't have a clue about integrity, let alone prioritize it.
[Case in point - in the job I just left, I was asked to draft a quality statement for the owner to sign. I refused to do it. That statement has to originate with the owner or it is utterly worthless. "That's our quality department over there" or "that's our safety department" or "that's our corporate ethics department" - that kind of thing is the kiss of death. Why we have to discover this over and over is beyond me.]
So I'm left with memories of one more beautiful afternoon at beautiful Clearwater Beach, and weird streaky sunburns because my spray-on sunscreen had less in the bottle than it had led me to believe; and I don't know how many more of these we'll get, or what the future holds. The beach isn't all there is to Florida, of course, but tourism is going to take a tremendous hit. That has already started. And the local economy, so heavily based on tourism, is about to get slammed.
I wish I thought that we'd learn something from this.