Wednesday, February 27, 2008

On the edge of awful things...

Our senior management had a great idea to take our cooks, cleaners, guards and drivers all out to the field today to see what all the project people had been doing all this time. They wanted the people who normally stay in the office to see how they contributed to something bigger. It was a great idea.

So, after a day of touring around houses and schools, meeting families and children and teachers they stopped at the floating fish ponds that I have previously described in another entry. But, instead of getting there in a canoe they put them on a raft. To make a long story short the raft flipped and trapped several of them underneath. Most couldn't swim. Some of those who dove in to try to save them couldn't swim. It was awful.

No one was drowned although there were some serious bad moments in which those who were managing the situation thought there might be. Everyone involved was traumatized and several in severe shock. Imagine having been through the tsunami and now this.

I used to think that awful things began horrifically. Cataclysmically. And I think they do when you are a participant, but when you are on the edge of awful things, when your job is to be close to them and to pick up as many of the pieces as quickly and as quietly as you can that you see that most awful things begin quietly. A text message that hints that everything is not all right; a calm voice on the other end of the phone that says, 'we have a situation'. Awful things do not strike you like lightning. They begin as an ebb and then grow to a swell that eventually becomes crushing until there is nothing left to do but sit with someone and hold their hand and cry.

No comments: