Another week gone. A short week, no less, because USAREUR decided to give us a four-day for the President’s Day weekend. Nonetheless it still felt like the longest week of my life. Again.
Though I do recall Dunbar from Catch-22, who repeatedly stated that time passes more slowly when miserable, so he consistently remained miserable in an attempt to live forever.
I might well live to a ripe old age at this rate.
The week started out well, at least were I on Dunbar’s plan. I received notice that I did not get accepted to a job for which I had interviewed a month back. I didn’t much want the job to begin with, but was moderately annoyed because the employer had made several mentions to this element referred to as “formal training.”
Some of you might be in the military as well, and therefore as confounded as I was with this term. Apparently, it doesn’t matter that you received initial training for and completed a job in a combat zone to much acclaim. It doesn’t matter that in essence you qualify for this position because of the training you received and the extensive experience that was all a part of your job description and assigned duties, not just on-the-job training but what you are in the Army to do.
No, it matters only if you have this new “formal training.” It’s the same training you already have for the most part, but puts a qualifier or two at the end of your job description and gives you a pretty certificate to shove into a file someplace and pull out only when Personnel is trying to update your records and has once again discovered that they have lost everything that you have ever given them. Did the whole thing in combat? Who cares. Trained and trained others in advanced methods and techniques in both combat and strategic units? Meh. Where’s that certificate at?
Well, my friends and potential employers, we have this little problem called “consecutive deployments.” It turns out when you spend more of your time deployed than at your home station, your home station finds it difficult to send you off for weeks at a time for “formal training.” They prefer you to learn what you need to know while on hand for tasks like lawn mowing and post police calll. Then you move to another unit, but that unit is broke because some high ranking officer decided to take more personnel than necessary to combat with him and as such blew all of the unit funds on training those personnel who mostly sat around and played cards for a year because there was no need for them downrange. So that certificate? Make that out to someone else.
But I didn’t care much, because the job itself was less than appealing as it were, so I moved on. Next step was to help my Soldier. This was a task easier said than done, apparently.
Every Soldier who has poor eyesight is supposed to travel to any duty station or assignment with at least two pairs of glasses. When you depart a station, you are asked if you posess both pairs. Your answer is “Yes,” and you move on. Apparently, my Soldier said “Yes” when really she meant “What? Two? Army glasses? Huh?” because I now have a blind Soldier who fell asleep in her glasses, rolled over, they fell off, she rolled again, and the glasses snapped in half. They were civilian glasses, hence the shoddy workmanship, and she left the ugly but still useable glasses the Army had given her at home somewhere because they just weren’t classy enough to think of packing. So now she periodically bumps into walls and all of her reports are typed in 72 point font while I try to get her an expidited pair.
Easier said than done, again. I send her to the optometrist to order another pair. She has to wait until the optometrist shows up. Which is only about three days a week, not counting coffee breaks, it seems. She finds him and he tells her to talk to his NCO, who appears to reside about an hour away. She finds him and orders the glasses. She is told they take about a week or two because they can’t get them here, they have to process it through another base and they will mail them, but they only deliver on Tuesdays. Tuesday comes and goes, they say maybe next week. The next week the glasses are still not there, she remains blind, and they tell her to check her post mailbox. She finds that the glasses are sitting in the mailroom, but they are addressed to someone with a misspelling of her last name so the post office refuses delivery. She begs the post office. I call and beg the post office. I call the clinic and the optometry NCO (just in from coffee break) calls and begs the post office. But to no avail. The post office insists that the person to whom the glasses are addressed must come and get them, and if not they will return them to the mysterious base an hour or so away. Since there is no one in the army by the name to which the glasses were addressed, I can only assume they will send them back to the base. I called the NCO there and made arrangements to just go and pick them up next week with the Soldier in tow, because I am about to take this Soldier to a live fire range and would really rather not get shot because my Soldier thought I was a pop-up target because she can’t see more than five feet with any sort of clarity. I already have a list of Soldiers to be wary of for other reasons; a blind one is the last thing I need.
And on and on the week went. Each day only seeming longer than the last. Dunbar must have been onto something.
On that vein, I have again been considering reenlistment. While I say it is to get some of this “formal training” I have been hearing so much about, I really think it is just part of my unconscious effort to live forever.