A love letter to my last job

(you don’t have to be crazy to work there but it helps)

I love that we are first in and last out, that we’re boots on the ground when the bullets are still in the air and we stay until we’re genuinely no longer needed. I love our unruly and brilliant country directors. I love that this is the smartest group of people with whom I have ever had the pleasure of working. I love always having someone to talk to on skype. I love that everyone here has field experience and is mysteriously lacking in any sense of self-preservation.

I love being part of a team, a team that does something that matters and does it well. I love the way this job combines competition and idealism, that we set out to help people and we set out to win. I love winning. I love that my job is difficult but I can do it anyway. I love that most of us would be completely helpless when trying to do our work if it wasn’t for all the other people who fill in the gaps. I love the way everyone here has a useful background, be it child survival, sociology, engineering, or the marine corps. I love working in an office that is highly tolerant of eccentricity. I love being judged on results and not how well I know my place in the hierarchy. I love having keys to the office.

I love the way people’s eyes light up when I tell them what I do for a living, once they finally understand. I love that the list of the places we work sounds like a travel guide from hell. I love hearing the taser crackle in the middle of slow afternoons, and that one day we had to send Amy up to the roof because of the tear gas. I love watching Al-Jazeera (and occasionally the world cup) scroll across the TV, and the PR guy sprint down the hall for some urgent media reason.

I love that even though we need the money to do what we do, it’s not actually about the money. I love having MSF hand over their hospitals to us because they leave at arbitrary points and we struggle and suffer and scream to stay, as long as there is need. I love that everyone I’ve met is still an idealist at heart. I love the thousand layers of bitter cynicism that covers the idealism. I love watching the news and knowing that I can do something about it, even if it is only a tiny bit.

I love sitting at my desk at seven pm and knowing I am not the only one there. I love writing a good proposal. I love seeing our logo on the news. I love how completely surreal our field problems tend to be, I love that we put our field programs first, and I love that our field programs are good.