I was sitting in my new office this morning (not much better than the old office, but at least it's private) and I got a call from one of our project managers. As usual when they call me, it's to complain about something. In this instance, the complaint was about some salaries that, due to an accounting screw-up, had gone unpaid.
Not get paid is a serious deterrent to effective performance, so I sympathize with the PM and his guys. However, he was all bent out of shape and ranting (mostly in Urdu, which I do not speak), so I began to get frustrated. Eventually, I had to fall back on my time-honored response to this sort of debate, which is to say, "Hey, it's just business. Nobody dies, right?"
Except that.....ummmm.....yeah, people do actually die in this business.* I have a disturbing tendency to be a little too flippant for a place like Afghanistan.
*Just last week one of our competitors lost an entire team of convoy escorts when they ran out of ammo during an ambush down in Khost. That's just poor planning.
So, I guess I'm going to have to find a new catch-phrase response for when things aren't going right. The long, cold silence on the other end of the phone confirmed that for me.