I’ve been working at the MLC for almost six months now. My business card announces me as Logan K. Stewart, EIT, Highway Drainage Engineer, so I suppose that drainage is my forte. Unfortunately, six months in the real world of state regulations and design specifications is not long enough to have everything down and stored in the brain, and I find myself pulling these manuals up for consultation quite frequently.
Nevertheless, over the course of six months I should have learned some things, right? I should know enough to not be nervous about this very important meeting that I’m going to in Paducah on Thursday, with my boss and several other big-wigs from the State and such, right? Or should my eyes be twitching in fear? My stomach tied in knots?
See, what I’m expecting is something like this:
Interrogator #1: So, Logan, I see that you designed this culvert with a 42” opening instead of a 36” opening. Why did you do that?
Interrogator #2: Yeah, Logan, you little sissy boy, why’d you do that?
Me: Uhm, huh, he he, hmmm, well, see, uh, I, uh…[loud belly grumble]
Interrogator #1: Never mind that. How did you come up with this number for this ditch design flow value? It seems abnormally high, don’t you think?
Me: Well, I’m new, and, and I, uh, just—
Interrogator #2: Abnormally high?! It’s about 200% too high! The fool doesn’t know what he’s doing. Crucify him, I say. Crucify him!
Okay, I don’t honestly expect it to be that bad, but I’m still nervous. I am new and I don’t have the years and years of experience everyone else has, but I’m trying. I’ve taught myself most of the stuff I do by going through old completed designs and reaping knowledge, mimicking the methods I see on the pages. Practically, this works, but I can’t tell you the “why” on some of the things I’ve done. And to me, that’s a problem.
I don’t want to be the fool, unable to justify why I did something the way I did. I feel like all of my answers will be, “Well, I looked through the design manuals and this is how I did it. I’ll give it another look when I get back to the office.” After hearing that over and over and over again, I’m sure they’ll think the MLC has hired a robot. No, truly, I want to learn and be good at what I do, but it will take time and practice, and since I’m mostly teaching myself, lots of time and lots of practice and lots of errors.
Really, though, I think my nervousness stems from the fact that this is my first meeting of this magnitude. I don’t exactly know what to expect except to expect to be extremely bored for an exceptionally long time. (I am very proud of that last sentence. You should read it out loud. It’s fun. Go ahead. I’ll wait.) Then, quite suddenly, I’ll be thrown on the horns (yes, I borrowed that expression from Mr. Rothfuss) as my work is meticulously picked apart, page by page, formula by formula, iota by iota, while I squirm uncomfortably beneath the harsh glow of the heat lamps.
So, like the fabled and great Dr. Horrible once said, a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do. I guess I gotta buckle down and prepare myself for the potential onslaught that is to come. Of course, it all could just be hype, and I may just find that my fretting was pointless.
Alas, I don’t know. I do know that tomorrow will be the conclusion to The American Dreamer: Part One on my weekly edition of Writing Wednesday’s. I do know that my NaNoWriMo novel is at almost 6,000 words. I do know that I don’t like blue shells from Mario Kart. I know that Stella’s birthday was yesterday, and that she’s now one year old. I know that Keisha’s going to see a neurologist today, and I ask your prayers on that. I know that I’m playing music tonight in my garage with my pal Alex. Wish me luck and pray for me, too, if you’d like. I’ll let you know how it goes.