Tuesday, September 12, 2006

October 19, 2005

For some reason, the last 2 days have dragged endlessly, and it seems impossible that it’s only the 19th. Had the worst coughing spell yet last night about 3 a.m. This morning my throat doesn’t hurt so bad, but my nose seems to be running.
Today the president of the Red Cross is supposed to cruise into town, and management is all a-twitter. J. asked me to postpone my day off because of this, and I agreed. So I’ll take tomorrow off. The driver that drove me nuts, T., as well as several other new ones, have been taken off driving for awhile until they can be trained by observation. I’m going out with one of the drivers from Algiers, M. Crew includes P., another driver who needs to learn the ropes, and who yesterday ran into a telephone pole. I’m glad the word on T. confirmed my own experience.
My run today is Bucktown in the a.m., and 3rd and Fillmore in the p.m., both outside of NOLA. J. and R. said the latter site is beautiful in the evening, right at a levee overlooking the Mississippi River west, and that the sunset there is spectacular.
Yesterday, based on reports, was chaos: between the additional logistics of loading twice the ERVs that were here when I arrived, and the lack of training of the new crews and drivers, a lot of food was wasted, as well as time. At the yard I watched J. trying to herd crews and make the ERVs move out. Crew members came to sit in the tent and chat or eat instead of staying with their vehicles. This, plus problems getting supplies of food for us and the Baptists, made for a bad day.
From what I can gather, the word passes down from on high how many meals to serve, We were supposed to ramp up from about 5000-6000 to 10,000-15,000. But the way it’s supposed to be counted is: the driver makes the count before the run, after telling the crew what to get and how much at the yard. At the end of the run, s/he counts again. But the sheets used for this have not been used, except once or twice, meaning the count at the end of the run can be whatever driver and crew decide on. Most often clamshells used makes the hot meal count, and boxes of snacks & water used makes the rest. But it’s been very haphazard.
Plus, the temperature of the food is supposed to be monitored so that hot food doesn’t fall below 140 degrees. Only certain drivers make sure this occurs. Others think it’s unnecessary---though it’s in the ERV Driver training. This only becomes an issue when an all-day run is made, since it’s twice the food at one time.
So what happens is, it’s in everyone’s interest to keep the count up, so the ARC can look good. The idea is to “use the meals”, which means if you can’t get rid of them at one site, move to another, or mobile feed. Sometimes not keeping close records becomes a way to fudge the count, which is why management doesn’t seem particular about enforcing the record-keeping rule.
Now, what political opportunism has propelled the ARC president down here is unknown to me. But you can bet that’s what it is. I’ve been saying since I got here that the higher-ups needed to be down here in mobile communication trucks, visiting the sites and making personal assessments. But I doubt that’s what this will be. More likely a few stops at staging areas and meeting with supervisors, then off to D.C. or wherever.
Cynical, I know.
Ah, the sun rises. 7:25 a.m. I’m in the playing field. I better get some loratidine* into me.

*An allergy medicine.

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