At the end of February, my fiancee and I went on our first ever cross country road trip from California to Georgia. We planned out all of our stops, booked hotels, and made plans for major cities along the southern border that we hadn't visited before.
At the top of the list was New Orleans. As you get to know me and my fiancee, you will know that our binding force is food! For years we have talked about getting a "real" beignet, red beans and rice, crawfish, and fried oytsers from the flavor capital of the south. We also really wanted a taste of the infamous Bourbon Street.
But if you really know me, you will know that I have champagne taste on a beer budget. Initially, I booked us a room at an extended stay type hotel since we had the dog, but it was my other half's birthday, so at the last minute I upgraded to a hotel in the French Quarter to really celebrate reaching yet another milestone.
Not only did we get the upgraded hotel, they offered us an upgraded city view (woot woot!) to which I of course accepted. We got to the room, opened the curtains, and this is what we were upgraded to:
My first thought, this isn't much of a view to be upgraded to...my second thought "That's the Hard Rock Hotel!"
If you aren't aware, the purple building is the Hard Rock hotel that collapsed October 12, 2019, killing three workers, and injuring many others. The other side looks like this.
To make matters worse, there are two humans in the destruction of the building, that have yet to be laid to rest. Two families that are still searching for closure. The tragedy occurred because the building company skipped the curing time for a portion of the project, and the city inspector signed off without actually visiting the site.
I'm all for trusting relationships, as the contractor was known for the excellent work according to reports. However, there are times when having integrity and being accountable are paramount because the outcome could cost someone their life.
As a health and safety professional, I know first hand that there are a lot of boxes to check in the day to day grind. Sometimes, those boxes feel redundant and I rely on my frontline leaders and executive leaders to do their part.
During this road trip, I decided to enter the job market again and the weight of not "checking the box" really came to the forefront as I looked for my next career match. The role of being responsible for the way someone goes home, or if they go home, meant just that much more.
In 2018, over 1,000 families lost a loved one at a construction site in the United States. Over 1,000 communities grieved. Over 1,000 coworkers and supervisors coped with losing a teammate.
New Orleans was more than a good time. The food was delicious, especially the chargrilled oysters (yum). The people embodied southern charm and my fiancee had an incredible birthday celebration. I also got grounded in my profession. It is more than a paycheck, a LinkedIn status, or a blog post. The daily grind, including the really exhausting days, are for a reason. People are literally depending on the commitment of occupational health and safety professionals, each other, and organizational leadership.
P.S. If it doesn't feel right, say something. If someone tells you that it doesn't feel right, follow-up. Make every task as personal as if it were your life.