We cooked supper and ate at home. We spent the time together building more on our relationship. I had a feeling that this Kampala situation was going to lead to some stress that all of us would have to deal with.
But tonight it was food then the hot tub and babies. Then there was soft talk, soft touches and no talk of business; that would come tomorrow. It was a great night, but morning came too early. Each night until I left on Monday was going to be special for each my mates.
We were in the office by seven and started the general planning for the next 40 days. General is all it would be; plans are simply made to modified, broken or trashed.
At 8 I called all employees to the upstairs offices; I had the homeless girls man the customer window and control access to the gym while everyone was getting the scoop.
The first statement was, “The information you are about to hear is strictly confidential. It is not to be discussed outside this room until after the public announcement in Washington at 2 PM.” The information was limited to the embassy expansion and the temporary ambassador appointment.
Thirty minutes later we were making the same announcement in the Morton Field meeting room.
By 10:30 I was done with both the VCATS and SVOL conference calls. At 10:45 I was sitting in the hairdresser’s chair at Jenny’s insistence.
Then we went home for a quick lunch and for me to change into the best professional form fitting pant suit I had. We needed to be early; Victor had tons of rules, regulations and policies that I needed to review. We were just going to hit the important ones; the rest I would look up if I needed them.
It was a cover story for all the peons in the department who were never going to know the real reason this was taking place. That I and my team were essentially bait.
We made good time; traffic was light heading west across the bay this time of day. East bound was another story all together. We came in three Suburbans, us six girls, Jason, Mom, Dad, Cindy and Mindy. Jake was going to meet us there and Lisa was staying home to babysit the boys.
The directions directed us the park in the secure state department parking garage. Several green powered carts were waiting for us as we parked.
We walked into the State department building and this time I was taken to a room we had walked by swiftly the last time we were here. The rest of my family was waiting while a new picture was taken for the new ID card. They swabbed my mouth to get a DNA sample. I knew what that was for and hoped that they never had to use it. There was also a DNA report in my HR file at JBG.
I read several authorization forms, several nondisclosure forms and then signed them. The state department phone I had was exchanged for a new and more secure model; they were even nice enough to transfer the contact list.
If they thought they were going to find a windfall in the contact list they were mistaken. The only thing that phone had been used for was official business unlike some other well known politicians who were in hot water now.
We were finally finished and escorted to the media center to wait for a few more dignitaries, we were told. I noticed right away that Hanna and her camera man were in the front. Either she had been really early or someone with clout moved her to the front.
Victor, Eric and Frank came walking in from the side entrance. Eric had some papers with him. “I notified the ATF that we were adding a manufactures license to your other ATF authorizations to cover you for that device you are making; sign on the check marks,” he said as he handed me a pen. After I signed the forms he handed copies to Jenny.
At two on the dot the Secretary of State came out to read the politically correct speech before getting to the JBG part.
“JBG has repeatedly proven itself with its current security contract. The department, after an in depth process, has awarded JBG a contract security expansion that covers all of the embassies in Africa and the Middle East starting on October 1st. There was however one condition and that was that Roberta Jones – affectionately known as BJ, president of JBG – serves a short stint in the shoes of an Ambassador to expand her knowledge of daily embassy operations.”
“Ambassador Bernardi of the Kampala embassy needs to return to the US for a critical surgical procedure for six weeks. BJ will be assigned as ambassador at our embassy there for those six weeks. BJ, step forward to take the oath of an Ambassador,” he said.
“Repeat after me; I Roberta Josephine Jones do hear by swear to uphold the laws and represent the United States of America as Ambassador to the best of my ability.” I added, “So help me God.” A phrase that was part of the oath I gave years ago.
The rest of the oath and the process was a blur with the camera flashes, the media and the handshakes from dozens of people I was going to have to know. Luckily all of the questions were directed at the Secretary.
As the officials drifted into the side halls and the major media moved off to report to their news desk, Hanna called out for an interview.
“BJ, congratulations, this has to be a moment filled with pride for you and your family. How soon are you going to leave for Kampala?” Hanna asked.
“I leave Monday,” I replied.
“With you going to be gone for six weeks, who is going to step up to fill your shoes at JBG?” she asked.
“Marcy, Jenny, Lorrie, Ching Lee and Vicky and I each have a division of JBG that we are responsible for. We cross train to be able to keep things running smooth when one of us is away. I being gone will be of no consequence; they can handle any problems that come their way. My administrators that handle the day to day operations for my division will report to them,” I replied. “We have everything covered.”
Several other news persons had recorded the conversation. I went to the side door that my family was being ushered into. There was a catered meal set up for everyone.
Victor handed me my new ID card, in bold red letters above my picture it said, “Roberta Jones, Ambassador of the United States of America.”
The realization of what I had just done finally settled in. I had served my country for 10 years in some of the worst hell holes in the world. Now I was going to serve it again in one of the worst regions, only this time as a leader and a much bigger target. The money was going to be much better this time though. This time there was a beginning and ending date; six weeks, I can handle that.
It was at the dinner that was nothing but finger foods with my family gathered around that I was introduced to Marine Lt. General DeMarcus. I had seen him before in the sandbox; I recognized him immediately. He was the one who escorted the army general who was looking for my head into the MASH tent after the Camp Roberts rescue.
The doc was checking my arm where the field medic had stitched it up from the bullet wounds at the camp. I was sitting topless on the exam table when they barged in; the doc was checking my upper body out closely for shrapnel and had found several small pieces.
With a big smile he came to attention and a salute that I returned and then shook his hand.
“Ambassador Jones, it’s great to see you again. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that someday I would be working with you and you would be my boss. When I first saw you and you didn’t back down from that army general, I was impressed; after reading your file I am even more impressed. Believe me; it is going to be a pleasure to work with you. After all, we survived all those years in the sand – this is just a bump in the road.”
Edit by Alfmiester
Proof read by Bob W.