Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Dodged a Bullet?

Some of my friends from my A-100 class have started getting emails re-assigning them to the passport task force. Unless you have been living under a bridge, you probably have heard about how the State Department has a backlog of millions of passports that have to be processed. And since they don't have the people to process them quickly, and can't hire them quickly because you have to have a security clearance, they have been trying to get as many volunteers as they can to help out.

But of course, those volunteers can only work just so much in addition to their 40-hour plus work week, and lots of folks simply want to spend their extra time with their families, not processing passports.

Add to that the work is mind-numbing. I did it while I was in Jerusalem. You literally take a file, check to make sure that the paperwork matches what is in the computer, click to accept and transmit it, and stick on a barcode. Then onto the next file. Seriously mind-numbing. And I only had to do it occassionally to help out in ACS (American Citizen Services) because I was in visas (which has its own challenges, but is less mind-numbing than transmitting passports). I have a friend in Jerusalem who does several hours worth of transmittals a day. I fear for her sanity.

Anyway, they haven't gotten enough volunteers, so now they are drafting people. About to go to your new post? Nope, we need you for 2 months doing passports. Finishing A-100? Here is your assignment for the next two months. Doing an internship? Off to passports. Mostly, but not entirely, they are tapping more junior people who can't say no. Hence, they have gotten to my class. We aren't yet tenured, though we are up for consideration as we speak. And some of us who are coming off consular tours, and thus have training and experience (like me), are especially sought after.

I have gotten an email saying I could get an email assigning me to passports, but so far, they haven't (allhamdulillah!). And insha'allah, they won't. I like my job, and it is a critical needs position. Plus, if they took me out of the rotation, my collegues would be forced to pull more overnight shifts and it would be harder for them to get leave during the very months people like to take leave. I don't want to do that to them. I know my boss is fighting for me.

I hope it is enough.

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