Who Promoted Major Major?

Filed under: — lana @ 2:30 am

A fantastic chapter of the satire my life has become, my adventure continues…

I arrive at my old battalion, having been told that they fought hard for my return and that the new battalion was sorry to see me go, great work, godspeed, do great things and make at least some sort of small effort to stay out of trouble (this time). So I expect, when I return, either a “Thank goodness you are back… we had this empty chair here for weeks with no one to sit in it,” or perhaps (and more likely) “WHAT DID YOU DO?! YOU ARE IN SO MUCH TROUBLE.”

What I got, instead, was, “Hmm… what are you doing here?” “Well, my old company told me you guys were pulling me back up here.” “Oh. Uh… let me go call the commander… how long are you here for?” “I was told for the rest of the tour; my bags should be (hahaha) en route in a few days.” “Interesting. Let me go call the captain…” Several minutes later wanders back with “Go call the first sergeant. He is a bit confused.”

What apparently happened in the interim was a phone call to the commander that went, “Well, she’s here, where are we sending her?” “What do you mean? What is she there for?” “She was told to come here.” “For how long?” “I think for the rest of the tour.” “Hmm… maybe the first sergeant knows something about this. Hold on.” (Pause… about a minute later another phone in the room rings and someone else answers to the unmistakable voice of an enraged senior NCO) “JUST WHAT IN THE HELL IS GOING ON DOWN THERE?!” Captain returns to the phone. “Nope, I don’t think he knew…”

So I call up there and get a nice apology from my first sergeant that he’s sorry I got mixed up in all of this and don’t worry, sit tight, and someone will figure it all out. Apparently a few people at my battalion knew of my impending return, my thought is that the Sergeant Major had no honest belief that I was going to be returning anytime soon (his reaction? “Welcome back. Um… how long are you here for?”), and certainly no one bothered to call the company. My guess is that last night was a pretty funny night amongst my original company and the company I was attached to, not to mention the two battalions.

So I just kind of mill around, on no one’s books, doing my own thing… at some point someone will realize that I have no job and I’m still getting paid, therefore I am finally living the Army dream, and then they will try to get me to re-enlist…


Army Job

Filed under: — lana @ 3:52 am

I have officially discovered the best job in the United States Army: the S-3 shop of any battalion-sized element. I say this because I am throroughly convinced that they can do absolutely nothing for days at a time, even weeks, in a combat zone or back in garrison, and it is all okay because it is what everyone expects. Kind of like middle management…

The S-3 shop, for non-Army types, is the fun place that is supposed to do things like logistics. Not supply, now, that’s the S-4. Or personnel action, that’s the S-1. The Army has to spread out anything that would logically go together or things might actually get done and THEN where would we be? Probably Syria by now, now that I think about it. But I digress…

Let’s take a few examples from recent history. First, we have my initial transport, which we all recall. I was stuck in the north because my bags couldn’t seem to find a way onto a plane, at least by themselves. Because bags, in case no one else was aware, have no legs. Nor do they have the common sense to say, “Hey. I think we are supposed to get on that plane heading up north…” Crazy bags. So the S-3 should be able to help, because I think that might fall under their line of work. Logistics, getting bags north… sounds good.

But when the officers would call down saying, “So… about those bags…” they would say things like “Hmmm… they didn’t get on the flight today?” No one seems to have informed them that the bags, indeed, are not sentient. Nor are some of the Air Force folks working down there, I thnk… and the ones that are really could care less about my bags anyway.

So then the officers say, “Well why don’t you go down there and check on them, make sure they are still there, and see when they are coming up here?” “Well… I did call… and… um… no change…” “So go down there.” “Um… I called… I think yesterday…” Maybe they are all the vampires in the battalion, so the sunlight would burn them… It’s possible. I’m going to leave some garlic on their desk next time I am at headquarters and see what happens, like they come in and have to turn around and leave again. Not like anyone would notice if they stopped coming to work…

Then there is this other battalion’s S-3, the battalion to which I am attached for at least another few hours. They have been working on arranging my flight out of here, apparently, for three days. Manifesting me on a helicopter. So we get here and stop in to their office to ask about it. And they say, “Still working on it.” Then, a few hours later, “Just fly Space Available tomorrow. I’m sure that will work. We couldn’t get a flight.” So I head over there and ask the Air Force guy at the desk. He hands me a phone number. I call it. In five minutes I am manifested for a flight later in the day. No hassle. No worries. No three days of sitting around practicing my telepathic skills hoping that the Air Force got the message I sent along tenuous brain waves that they should put my name on their manifest.

Best job in the Army. And I could put “Telepathy” under the skills portion of my resume…


Relocation Nation

Filed under: — lana @ 6:36 am

And so it comes to pass that if you do your job too well, you will only gain the negative attention of those above you who sit around all day pushing papers from one side of their desk to the other and grumbling about how come the war is taking so long. Point is, I did my job, some people noticed and were impressed, and that made my command upset so now I get to return north where I can be adequately watched and babysat, not to mention dummy-corded to a computer. I’m not in trouble… I’m just… um… more essential elsewhere. Yeah. That’s the ticket…

I reference the book Catch-22 a lot, because it is my life, though Army, not Air Force. Today, I think I will be ex-PFC Wintergreen, who is called ex-PFC because every time he makes it up to PFC he goes AWOL or something equally entertaining so he can get busted back down a few ranks, then proceeds to do grand Army punishments such as digging and filling in holes. Who’s got my shovel?

It’s alright, though. This place was starting to remind me of a bad episode of Green Acres. I have mentioned the chicken farms, and how some people seem to be fixated on the chickens. The sheep are roaming the medians like the window washers that used to mill around in the streets outside of the Lincoln Tunnel in New York City, and now I have to deal with Pig Island. Pig Island is south of the city, and is a small island in the middle of a wide section of the beautiful, flowing, ever-fragrant Tigris. The conversation regarding its discovery (by us foolish infidel Americans) went something like this:

“There. That island.”
“What is happening on that island?”
“It is a bad place.”
“Why is it a bad place?”
“It is evil.”
“Why is it evil?”
“You do not want to go there.”
“Okay, we have established that it isn’t a good location for my new summer home, but why?”
“Excuse me?”
“Pigs. There are pigs all over the island.”
“Yes. Pigs. It is a bad place. You must go there and do something.”
“Do something. About the pigs.”
“Yes. About the pigs.”

Make the English a bit more broken and throw in a translator and you have me rolling up my maps and my partner trying to restrain me from using it like a paper baseball bat.

So really, leaving this area might not be a bad plan. Who knows… no one has brought up goats yet.

I think I have some holes to dig…


Money Matters

Filed under: — lana @ 3:31 am

Today is one of my “I love the Army” days. I really have those a lot, as I am sure it is obvious. Today is something of a day off for me, though I still have work to do prior to my eventual location change that has been in the government rumor mill for a few weeks now. Luckily, it is a government rumor mill, so it is a lot of hot air and very little production.

I decided this morning that I am going to finally start my book. T’will be a satire, I believe, as my life has turned into something of a horrendous comedy at this point, mostly at the hands of the Armed Forces. Entertaining for all involved except for myself, no doubt. With any luck I can retire at age 28 on the royalties and not have to worry about future government service, enjoying the fruits of capitalism having left the communist regime that is the Army.

Today I thought I might access my accounts that I hold with the Army for retirement funds. I thought, in my child-like innocence, that it would be nice to dream of how life will be when I am out of Iraq and out of the military. And so I found the correct website for the fund that I set up in Basic Training and attempted to access my information.

But lo, weary travelers! There was password protection, of course! Never fear, as I entered personal information I hope even my mother doesn’t know, and on to the PIN. Here, tragically, I was thwarted, as it has been several years since I thought about even looking at the accounts. And so I tried. Again. and Again. And after attempt three was locked out for an hour. So I said, “No worries, I will contact them.” Again, with the wide-eyed, naive wonder similar to that of my cats when they watch snow fall or a bug on the floor or their food bowl being filled, I clicked on the tab that would provide me with someone to give me my PIN.

As it turns out, they seem to guard this particular information much like the Top Secret vaults in the bowels of the Pentagon, quite unlike soldiers’ social security numbers which they use for every identification purpose conceivable in the greater military organizations. But in order to access PIN information, I first have to contact them. I cannot, it seems, do this via e-mail. I must call or write or fax them. From Iraq. Somehow. Score: Evil Government Agency: 1. Me: 0. Then, I must wait ten days or so for them to get a new PIN in the mail. Score: EGA: 2. Me: Still 0. Note that I have no idea what address they have on file, probably one while I was in training, so first that must be fixed prior to me even requesting the PIN. EGA: 17. Me: -6. And the games only continue.

You would think that they, being an agency that works primarily with people working overseas in various capacities, that they would streamline the process a touch. You would think. I would be very careful about thinking: it will only bring negative attention around here…


Street Dreams

Filed under: — lana @ 10:44 am

Went on a little jaunt one day. I found that this place really isn’t so bad.

There are such nice buildings, amazing architecture, and… sheep…

I suppose in the cities, there aren’t a whole lot of places for grazing. One would assume, therefore, that they would leave things like the herding of sheep to those living in more permissable areas, such as, oh I don’t know, maybe not in the city. But I haven’t thought this problem out, obviously. As we cruised down one of the most dangerous roads in the country watching the world pass by, there was a man walking down the highway median herding his sheep.

The sheep, of course, were paying no mind to the traffic going back and forth, the waving arms of gunners, the general noise of a bustling city, the occasional mortar round or gunshot… they just munched on the trash that was piled in the gutters and the grass that has been starting to dry as springtime in Iraq comes around. They were having a lovely time, not even looking up at the overpasses where the fun terrorists get to play “dodge the grenade” now and again.

And so it stands that this place really isn’t such a desolate area of forgotten infrastructure… if you’re a sheep…

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