Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The (almost) perfect week

Being the Embassy Duty Officer is not fun.  Forced to carry a cell phone around with you wherever you go, your day can be ruined with quickest of rings.  Every time the phone rings, you worry that someone died (the worst calls), someone was arrested (also bad), someone is crazy (happens way too often), someone is sick or lost their passport, or just wants to say hi (seriously, that one has happened to me).  Every time the phone rings, your heart jumps in your chest.

That is why a week with no phone calls is the dream.  A perfect week.  And just like with baseball's perfect game, there are rules that apply to the perfect week. 

Rule number 1 - you cannot get excited about the possibility of a perfect week until the weekend is over (past the 6th inning).  Sure, it is nice to not get any calls on Wednesday or Thursday, but until you make it through the weekend, don't get excited.

Rule number 2 - you cannot talk about the perfect week.  Ever see the late innings of a perfect game in baseball.  No one sits anywhere near the pitcher.  No one will talk to him for fear of jinxing him.  This rule actually tripped me up the last time I got close.  I made it to Tuesday with no calls and then got slammed Tuesday night with four calls.  I not only blew the perfect game, but also the no hitter and even lost the game that week.

Rule number 3 - the opponent doesn't matter.  Achieving a perfect game (week) is hard no matter the opponent.  A major league pitcher playing against a high school team would not regularly achieve a perfect game.  So, it doesn't matter that this is about as slow as tourism season gets in Belize.  Achieving a perfect week would still be an amazing accomplishment.

So, I followed all of the rules this week.  I even thought I was going to lose the perfect week last night when the phone rang.  It was a wrong number (similar to a fielder making a great catch to take away a hit).  Then, this morning, at 745 - a mere 15 minutes before my time as duty officer is over, I got a call from a woman who needed information about doctors in Belize.  I felt like that Detroit pitcher who got the 27th batter to hit a ground ball, saw the throw to first beat the runner, and watched in disbelief as the umpire called him safe.  I knew I had my perfect week and had it snatched away from me at the last possible moment.


  1. I had duty this past week too. It was my first time here in Estonia but I had duty too many times in Jerusalem (sort of double, since I am a tandem). I got my perfect week this time (first time ever!) you, I didn't even allow myself to think of the possibility until I handed over the the duty materials!

  2. Well put! Although even with no calls I think duty week is the worst. I just live in constant anxiety that I'm going to miss a call, that a call is going to ruin my precious time off, etc.