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THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
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JANUARY 2013
25
one receives the orders (or at least knows when and where one is
going), the better.
As many people know all too well, traveling with pets has
become a nightmare. Some of the airlines we are obliged to use
because of city pairs and Fly America provisions are the most
egregious in applying a new fee schedule under which having
the animal travel as accompanied baggage in the hold is almost
as expensive as having it travel in cargo—which is the most
costly category of all.
It is true that employees can use a professional pet shipper
to circumvent these limitations, since those companies are not
required to comply with city-pair contracts or Fly America. But
understandably, people want their pets with them and will go
to great inconvenience and expense to bring them along, which
can cause enormous stress and low morale.
People also complain about the lack of fexibility in having
access to goods in storage when they discover they have to stay
in Washington much longer than anticipated. For example, a
new employee might arrive in the winter for short-term training,
only to learn that he or she will actually be at FSI through the
summer. Such individuals would like to be able to put the winter
clothes into storage and retrieve their summer ones, but this
generally is not possible.
Be Patient
No matter how hard you try to make the transfer process
go smoothly, remember that bureaucracies generally function
slowly and imperfectly. Some parts of the Department of State
function more efciently than others. Some employees know a
lot more than others, and some people care a great deal more
than others.
You can also expect to get diferent answers from diferent
people to the same question. More often than not, replies to
requests seem to be a function of the individual’s personality.
People who are generous and helpful will try to use regulations
to make things happen. People who are negative and uninter-
ested will use regulations to prevent things from happening.
Sometimes the mechanics function very well. At other times,
one has to accept that they will not. If employees regale you with
horror stories, be prepared to evaluate the source and to keep
things in perspective.
When, despite your best eforts, the system just is not func-
tioning properly, ask yourself whether the many good things
about the Foreign Service outweigh these sometimes unpleasant
realities. I suspect most of us would readily choose the Foreign
Service, frustrations and all.
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