In any operation – military, commercial, governmental – there is a limit to how long personnel can be expected to perform tasks productively. In many businesses, there are actually regulations in place that state exactly how long and how often a person can be on duty in a given period of time. Take commercial pilots as an example. They are limited by law to fly no more than 100 hours a month, 30 hours in any 7-day period, and no more than 8 hours a day. Truckers get similar treatment although there are fewer points of enforcement with them. Combat soldiers are rotated to the rear for R&R and given more extended leave on regular intervals.
The point to all of this is that people cannot sustain working a given task, especially one that involves a lot of stress, indefinitely. They get tired, even if only mentally, and tired people make mistakes. Tired people in stressful jobs make big mistakes. None of us are expected to work day in, day out forever with no break at all – weekends or vacations. I’m sure there are examples where people are held to that standard for a period of time but they’re rare. Most of us get downtime to relax and recharge. How we do that in our downtime varies but that’s generally our business and no one else’s.
With that in mind, I find the outrage over BP CEO Hayward’s attending a yachting race over the weekend to be misplaced. Hayward’s company is working this issue right now and there are people busting hump on getting the leak sealed around the clock. What, precisely, are people expecting Hayward to personally be doing that he can’t so much as take an afternoon to unwind? Where was he supposed to be, on the rigs drilling the relief wells? Shoveling oily sand somewhere, permanently and forever? We have laws against forcing prisoners to do that in the country but people are insisting that Hayward be held to that standard?
And if that’s the case, then where was the outrage over President Obama’s hitting the golf course – again – at the same time?Hayward takes time to spend with his son watching sailboats zipping along and that’s an unforgivable slight but our President, whose response to this entire disaster has been slow and unfocused since day one, can get in 18 holes and that’s perfectly OK? We’re not even talking about his going to a baseball game the night before. Where’s the outcry? And where’s the media on this? They make a big deal out of Hayward so much as getting lunch (yes, that’s a mild exaggeration) but Obama takes 4-5 hours smacking the ball around the links that’s just par for the course? (Pun intended.)
I understand people are angry about this whole situation and I’m right there with them. But even the CEO of BP gets to take a day off in the middle of this. I need him more focused than ever and that means he needs to rest every so often. If he rests watching people race sailboats then that’s his call. Like the President, I prefer golf. That or dozing off with a TV remote in my hand. But people need to get the perspective on this. Not everything Hayward is doing is done as a deliberate slap in the face. And let’s try to be consistent with the standard. If we’re going to call Hayward out then the President is far more guilty of the offense and should be similarly called out.