My first sergeant set a fine example today of the wonderful and oft-used expression “It rolls downhill.” He is a little more explicit about what, in particular, is doing the rolling, as well as just how it affects me.
There is an exercise approaching that he knows I would like to attend. It is a short, two week exercise held in different locations every year. I went two years ago when it was in Eastern Europe in a cold and rainy fall. This year it will be oceanfront. In June. Not a bad gig, I think. So I told him about it and told him if it comes down, I want to go. At that point, which was several months ago, he said if it came down HE wanted to go. We fought over it, we played rock paper rank, he won as usual, but nothing had come down anyway.
So recently I got a phone call. One of my Soldiers was being tasked. To what, I asked, and got the response “To go to the exercise.” I mentioned now wait a minute, how come he gets to go? He answered quite plainly that I couldn’t go because I was going to a different country, one to which I have been and of which I am remarkably less fond. I said that was hardly an excuse, as I don’t even like that country. He then explained the actual scenario:
The tasking for the exercise called for an enlisted person. My commander, who we know would have gone in a heartbeat, therefore could not go. Since he could not go, he told the first sergeant that if he, the commander, could not go then neither could the first sergeant. Since the first sergeant could not go and was therefore not happy, he decided to share the misery and tell me I could not go either, and therefore my Soldier would go instead. It rolled downhill.
I asked about the other tasking, which is work and not an exercise. He answered that he hates that country. The commander, however, told him that he must go on this particular tasking. Since he has to go, I have to go too. And since this logic, when coupled with the previous, made perfect sense, I said, “Oh. Okay. What are the dates again?” and went about my merry way until I realized that once again I think I was had.
What I don’t understand is why the good things don’t roll downhill as well. Why is it that when people are in lovely moods somewhere in the annals of the Army that those feelings of happiness and goodwill don’t come barrelling down the chain into my lap, and instead I end up in countries to which I never had any intention of returning instead of the warm beaches of a country to which I have not yet been? But no, the good just stays up wherever it might be, floating about on some sort of cloud which eventually comes over and piddles a misty, cold sleet on the peons mucking about in the deepening piles of that which has already rolled our way. And I am assured that it isn’t intentional, that that is just the general size and shape of the bad versus the good, and gravity therefore works its magic.
I informed my first sergeant today, somewhere amid this conversation, that I was putting in for a change of station. When he asked why and where to, I answered The Moon. He asked for clarification, so I calmly pointed out that if things continue to roll downhill, I really need to relocate to a place with lower gravity. It might not stop the eventual progression, but at least it might slow it enough that I can get out of the way.