Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Logistics, in case you didn’t know, is a crucial part of all relief operations. They’re basically the people who buy stuff, store it, and get it from point A to point B. They also manage properties, deal with comms, travel, etc., etc., ad infinitum. It’s not the stuff of action movies but important, nonetheless. Without it project managers would have nothing to build with, wells wouldn’t get dug, nor would latrines, we wouldn’t ever get out to the field, and basically the enterprise would come to one massive, grinding, screeching halt. So, when logs is in trouble I’m there for them. Or, at least, I am in theory.

That sentimental theory met reality today when my love and devotion to logistics was put to the test by a serious gap in logs staffing. I volunteered to take a sabbatical from communications for a couple of weeks to help logs It was valiant and gallant of me - if I do say so myself…and I do. Afterall, I’ve got a fairly good handle on logistics. It’s not rocket science. You shop. You boss people around. You give withering looks that make others feel inferior when they’ve completed the wrong paperwork. Sheesh! I do those things for fun. But, there is one thing that I haven’t done and that is warehousing. I’ve heard about warehousing. I’ve wandered around tidy warehouses and looked at things. I’ve even inventoried warehouses. It’s just that I’ve never actually ‘managed’ a warehouse. So, when the Logs Manager sat down at my desk and looked at me earnestly my heart started beating a little faster. Here’s a snippet of conversation:

Logs Manager: I think we should talk about what where you’re most needed.
Me: Sure! (inside my head) Please don’t say warehousing, please don’t say warehousing!
Logs Manager: We’ve got a couple people who will be covering procurement and purchasing.
Me: Great! (inside my head) Please don’t say warehousing, please don’t say warehousing!
Logs Manager: So….ummm…I was wondering how you felt about…
Me: (inside my head) Not warehousing! Anything but warehousing!
Logs Manager: …about managing the warehouses?

What could I do? I was sitting there with a silly confident grin plastered across my face? I gulped, nodded and kept smiling. “Sure! Great! Sounds like fun!” I said. Of course, I did what any reasonable person would do in those circumstances - I promptly got on Google and typed in ‘Warehouse Management for Dummies’. Google failed me and so I turned instead to our own manual on warehouse management that has been – handily – put on all our computers.

The Logs Manager walked back in. Could I do the interviews for the warehouse assistants? “Sure!” I gulped again. Not only have I never done warehousing but now I’m supposed to ask someone else how they do it and judge their answers. I returned to hurriedly reading the manual. Stock checks. Ok! Bin cards. Check! Rats, fires, flood, fraud. I put the speed reading skills to the test.

“Oh,” the Logs Manager turned back to me on his way out the door. “Here are the outstanding MDRs”

MDRs…riiiight. Love those MDRs! What the heck is an MDR? More manual flipping. Material Dispatch Requests. Of course, silly me, how obvious!

So, two interviews, 35 MDRs, two warehouse tours, a lot of faff with some project managers over bricks, and 10 hours later I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was still alive. And breathing. And no one hated me. At least that they’ll say to my face but I’m keeping the withering looks on standby just in case.


Josh said...

So you're now a glorified Wal-Mart stock-girl in another land. Nice

pellucid said...

I find that "W.W.K.D." (What Would Ken Do?) gets me through an awful lot of bother. Google's a good backup though.

Aaron Stewart said...

You've got white skin, of course you must be qualified! I was called Doctor more times than I could count. :)

Jennifer said...

Aaaah. My quality of life has just escalated now that I have regular Adventures of Kelsey Reports again!!!!
Lots happening here. It's pumpkin season so I think of you often :-)

Lee said...

Wow! You are now in charge of a mini Walmart. This you can do. Just remember the old and true adage: Fake it with confidence! Withering looks help a lot.Love ya,

Frida said...

no one hates you? can you tell me your secret?

marktristan said...

love the honesty! - but actually, i think you could do pretty much anything.

besides, isn't that how a lot of these things get done? a pinch of resourcefulness, and a whole cup of soul? do you think nehemiah was an experienced construction foreman? hehe :)

glad i found your blog, not the masquerading version.