What My Job Sometimes Entails

The following is an example of the type of thing that I sometimes do during the course of my job. (WARNING: The following is a bit long and quite full of hot air, but did you expect anything less?)

Sitting at my desk Tuesday morning tending to regular business I get a phone call from the project manager for all eight diesel generator projects we are working on. (I have been on dry dock for two of these projects and have two or three more dry docks this year that are centered on the DG installation project.) The project manager is on board the GTS Jewel of the Seas where they are very close to getting the massive diesel generator operating that was installed during an October dry dock. As often happens during a project this big there were a few last minute parts they needed to get the engine running.

I was asked if we had the ability to air freight some spare parts from the Miami area to St. Marteen, where the vessel was to call the next day. I checked with our in-house air freight company and it turns out we got lucky and there was a four AM flight to the tiny island. The flight was arriving at seven-forty the next morning so we could pretty much be assured the package would make it to the ship before she departed at the end of the day. . . as long as there would be no issues with customs. A quick call to our agent on St. Marteen set me at ease with regards to customs clearance because he laughed when I asked him if there would be any problems getting the package on board by the end of the day. No worries.

So far, so good and this technical emergency should really be no big deal as long as the part they need is actually in the Miami area. The diesel project manager told me that a representative from a company called Wartsila would be contacting me to arrange the pick up of the part. (I'm thinking it's no big deal. . . a technical company that big normally has a warehouse in Miami and I'll just need to call for a pick up of the part.) It's still before lunch and I think the situation is well in hand. I only need to have the part delivered to Miami International airport by five PM so there's plenty of time. Still no time for lunch though because now I'm a little behind on the work for my upcoming dry dock. No worries.

Get a call around two PM on my cell phone. . . number starts with plus-forty-seven so I know it's from Norway. (Damn, I thought I might get this done without having to worry about mis-communication due to a language barrier.) The Wartsila rep on the other end of a phone is in a very noisy environment and has a classic, and heavy, Italian accent. Guess he ain't Norwegian. He verifies that I'm the guy to talk to about the spare parts and tells me he's in Ft. Lauderdale. Turns out he's not so much in the actual city of Ft. Lauderdale but rather he's on a ship that is anchored in Port Everglades which is the port in Fort Lauderdale for cruise ships and container vessels. Possibly this information would have been handy a little earlier since the only way to reach a vessel at anchor is to hire a tug boat to get out to the vessel for the pick up. A few worries.

I have no idea who to call for a tug boat in PEV (Port Everglades) Harbor. None. All four of my co-workers, who might know this kind of thing off the top of their heads, aren't in the office and don't answer their cell phones. A generic web search produces a few shaky possibilities. As I'm starting to cold call companies that probably can't help I get a lucky break and the Italian calls me back. He's gotten two numbers for tug companies from the captain of the vessel he's on. I call the first number and get lucky. . . but not in a sexual way. The company has a tug that can make the pick up fairly soon. We've never done business with this tug company but luckily payment isn't a concern since we're so big. What is a concern is finding a place where the tug can meet a designated truck that will then bring the package to our warehouse. Building addresses are one thing. . . having a truck meet a tugboat at some random pier might be another. Still only a few worries.

Things work out. The tug company gives me a pier number in Ft. Lauderdale that might be a good transfer point and the trucking company doesn't seem to have much of a problem with waiting at a pier for the boat to arrive, especially when payment for the time spent is guaranteed. Things are looking good and it's still early afternoon.

The Italian number pops up again. I answer to the sound of engines roaring and large men with sledgehammers doing whatever it is they do in endless engine rooms on board massive vessels. "Hold minute. I move," the man shouts. He's wondering when the tug will arrive and I assure him it's on the way. (At least I hope it is.) I finally have a chance to ask him what the dimensions and weight of the package are. Dimensions? What dimensions? There's not even a box involved. I reply, "Ummmm, okaaaaaay. . . . . . . what do you have?" He's got four bolts, thirty-six inches long and five inches in diameter with the appropriate nuts, compression washers and the specialty tools to make it all work.

My reply, "Yeah, uh, you're gonna have to go ahead and find a crate or something to put that all in. We can't exactly air freight a hundred kilos worth of loose metal parts." He's flusterated and hasn't thought of this. My air freight company finds this a convenient time to call and remind me that they need the dimensions of the package before they can guarantee the booking on the flight. Things progress, a crate is found, the tug arrives, the cell phone is passed to the captain of the tug and we confirm the drop off pier and the pick up company. Everything is now either shiny or green depending upon if you're watching "Serenity" or "The Fifth Element."

I communicate the likely success of our air freight plans to the head project manager and now at three-thirty in the afternoon I'm told there is a second item that will need to be air freighted to St. Marteen or it won't even matter if the bolts make it. (Sweet. Thanks for the timely heads up.) Of course, we aren't even sure if we've found the second item that is needed or where it will be in So Flo once it's found. To cut the "suspense" I'll say that it all worked out in the end. The tug met the pickup truck on the Fifteenth Street pier in Ft. Lauderdale and luckily the second part was found, purchased and was able to be picked up by the same truck that was designated to pick up the crate of bolts from the tug. No worries.

The truck arrives at our warehouse and predictably the crate isn't sealed and there's not a stitch of paperwork attached to it. The bolts and nuts look like they were possibly removed from a similar engine to the one they are destined for, and possibly removed that morning by those same gentlemen who normally wield the sledgehammers. Our warehouse staff kindly seals the crate up and after a quick verification of the weight and some affixation of proper paperwork from the air freight company the truck pulls away from our warehouse at five-fifteen in the afternoon. (Turns out the actual cut-off for air freight is six PM down at MIA but it's not wise to tell anyone else that or they'll be asking you for specialty air freight at five-thirty in the afternoon.)

So that was half of my Tuesday. The parts were confirmed on board the Jewel the next day but true to form for most departments in this company I haven't heard a stitch about how successful (or unsuccessful) the start up of the diesel generator was. Oh well, I guess I did my job.

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