Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Building Bridges

Four years or so ago, when I was a student archives technician, SuperJ called me into his office and told me I was going to the other end of the building for a month to go work with a bunch of people called the "ARC staff."  I was the newest ARC review POC for my unit (translated – I reviewed and, okay, I admit it, edited archival descriptions that my colleagues wrote to add to the National ArchivesArchival Research Catalog.)  It was a job that I got totally by happenstance.  My unit’s POC left the agency to go to another agency…for a 13.  His replacement, my friend Courtney, ended up leaving shortly after him.  I’m pretty sure she’s the one who told the bosses that I should take her place…it’s nice to know you have friends watching out for you.  That’s how I found myself in SuperJ’s office being told that I had to go to the other end of the building.  So, off I went.

The Boss calls me Miss-Builid-a-Bridge.  SuperJ calls me the Tappan Zee.  I prefer the Peace Bridge (because I am just that full of myself).  It all started seriously enough but it’s turned into a bit of a joke, a joke I still take seriously.  One particularly frustrating day when I, a processing archivist (I realize I’ve never really explained what I do…I owe you a post.), got really, really frustrated with something in the Reference Unit, I burst into The Boss’s office - okay, I knocked first but she TOLD me to come in! - and I said, we need to have meetings with those people (those people = reference archivists)!!!  I’m not a huge fan of meetings, unless there’s pizza, so it was surprising that I actually made the suggestion to have one!  But I was frustrated because there was a serious lack of communication and if there’s one thing I can’t stand (besides waiting) – it’s not communicating!  And then I said the phrase that has gone down in infamy:  “We need to build a bridge!”  And okay, there was a silly little arm gesture because I can’t really make grand proclamations like that without flailing my arms or dancing a little jig.  The Boss rolled her eyes as she is prone to do when I make grand proclamations and I left and I thought that was the end of things.  Because really do grand proclamations ever go anywhere unless it’s something like the Emancipation Proclamation?
But then we were in a unit-wide meeting/weird birthday celebration for a computer system and The Boss, in a semi-joking way, referred to me as The Bridge.  And so it began.  I like being The Bridge.  I take being The Bridge seriously (but not so seriously that I don’t dance a little jig when I’m trying to bridge.)  I like talking to people and helping them and figuring out how we can help each other because you know what, we’re all in this together and if you’ve got my back, I’ve got yours.  I like knowing that people feel like they can ask me questions…the greatest compliment I’ve ever received was that I’m always willing to help others.  Well, yeah, we should all be willing to help.  How are we ever going to get to the other side if we don’t help each other?  Bridges help people get to the other side or to wherever they need to go. 

Bridges.  They’re awesome. 
Yesterday, I told you about the different sides of our building.  I’ve always gone to the right.  I love going to the right.  That’s where my passion lies, that’s where I’ve grown up as an archivist.  But that job offer?  The job offer that I turned down because the 13 wasn't my brass ring?  It got offered again.  And I started thinking, the 13 isn't the brass ring...I got so wrapped up in that number, but you know what, it's got nothing to do with anything at all.  We believe Records Matter on the right side of the building but so do the people who sit on the left side.  As my coworkers friends have been saying to me since this whole thing began, maybe this is what I'm meant to do...maybe I can try to help bridge the right and the left.  That's the brass ring.  It’s gonna be new and different and it's not gonna be easy and it’ll probably be scary but you know what?  I think I’m ready. 
So, off I go.

One of my most favorite bridges!