iraqistan

8/10/2009

Off-Day

Filed under: — lana @ 12:36 pm

I suppose we are all entitled to an off-day. Today was mine.

The weather did not cooperate, so I started out rather grouchy and with a headache. Under normal circumstances, I would take the red pills (not the green ones; they make me more grumpy) and the headache would go away after a bit. But I am almost out of red pills and cannot get more without a trip west to visit Those That Want Me Medically Boarded. So I, in my infinite wisdom, have avoided getting a refill by just conserving pills for a month until I get back from my theoretical class. The class is still theoretical, by the by. While they fixed the routing and someone agreed to pay for it, absolutely no one has signed the authorization yet. But that is a mere digression and not even remotely out of the ordinary for this band of zoo escapees, so I continue:

I started out off and things did not improve. I went for a meeting, did my thing, and came back full of fabulous information but a much worse headache and having made the decision that I have a sincere dislike for one of my co-workers. By the time I was done with my day, that number was up from just one, but patience, patience… all in due time. This particular one simply bored me with poor English and inane topics for a two hour drive each way. Because of the headache, I could not evade as well as usual and instead was forced to talk about the weather, the concept of a Jeep Cherokee versus a Jeep Grand Cherokee, and why Americans call the side of the road “The Shoulder.” I weighed options of a quick death and opted not to grab the wheel. A foolish choice, in retrospect.

Upon my return, I asked my warrant officer if he had caught up on any reports while I was gone. I have not been in the office for a full day in the last seven or so working days, so I am a bit behind and have worked at least 12 hour days to catch up, all of which has been fruitless. He said he had not caught up on the reports at all, had not even looked at them, but did I happen to read a funny internet article he passed my way last week? My decision to leave the wheel alone haunted me, but I had work to do. I left some cake on his desk I had somehow acquired over the weekend. It entertained him enough.

I did some work, playing around with a new system to which we just got access. There was a four-page mini-instruction presentation which I skimmed through and I got to work. I should have known better, given my state of mind. I mistakenly thought that once I routed a query, were the query not answered within the computer I could go back and change the routing before submitting a formal request. That would be logical, so I figured it must be so. A mistake, as always. I sent the request before realizing I had just requested something directly from some basement (I suspect, because they usually are) office somewhere back in Washington D.C., as opposed to the basement a few hours away but at least still in Germany. I only realized it because about five minutes after I hit “send” my phone was ringing with someone in the general vicinity of Europe asking me if I really meant to do that. Since I had no idea, he and I had a lovely conversation about what I thought I had done versus what had actually happened. I learned an awful lot. He was most pleasant about it, explaining that it happens nearly every time someone starts using the system because it isn’t the most clear of structures, but now it would take him a few days to fix it. The trouble with my job field is that they love introducing new technology but they hate making it intuitive and really hate training people on it. Analysts come up with a way to make their lives easier, but it complicates things for the rest of us. I function, still having some semblance of engineering background, on logic. These guys seem to focus more on whim and what they had for lunch. We don’t always mesh, but at least one of them caught it three minutes before I received an email stating that my request was now abandoned to some other system. The guy on the phone, who also saw the transition pop up on the system, informed me that he just bumped his estimate from a few days until the end of the week. I told him to take his time.

During this time, my warrant (who never uses the new system, possibly because that would require him to work instead of having me do it) giggled incessantly at me while eating some leftover cake with his fingers. He only paused to answer his phone (getting icing all over the place). Turns out it was our other two Soldiers who were on their way back from the company headquarters but had somehow taken a detour and ended up on the wrong highway with no idea where they were or how they got there. We go to the company headquarters about twice a month. The detour, which I just took with one of them on Friday, takes them towards a large city with clearly marked signs to the correct highway. Upon guiding them back to our general vicinity and waiting for their return, I discovered that they had in fact actually successfully navigated the detour in the first place and even ended up on the main highway back to our area before they got lost. They got lost because they have never once in all the times we have gone to headquarters paid attention regarding how to get back and had left the correct highway for an incorrect highway about halfway through the drive. And no one called until they were a good hour out of the way.

While one might think this would make me feel better, thinking that at least I wasn’t the only one having an off-day, that one would be mistaken. This is about right for the pair I sent out there today, a non-commissioned officer and a soon-to-be non-commissioned officer. The former couldn’t find his way out of an open cardboard box and the latter, while being a good Soldier, still relies a little too heavily on instructions (in the form of a navigation system that they had not taken with them). The blind leading the blind. I was just surprised they made it back before finding out what Berlin was like this time of year. Probably muggy, like the rest of the country.

I am chalking today up to just being an off-day, brought on by the weather and my dwindling supply of red pills. As such, I am going to just have to do what I always do: try again tomorrow. At least I already know how not to have my reports end up halfway around the world. It may not be much, but it’s a start, and we all have to start somewhere.

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