Let the Games Begin

Filed under: — lana @ 11:58 am

Soon enough, my life in Germanistan will come to an end. This is inevitable, since I have neither the rank nor the desire to stay here forever, wallowing in the oddities that come out of combining German law with a Status of Forces Agreement that really should be updated more often. The end of such an existence means transferring to at least one more duty station in this Green World, and in order to avoid what I consider the inevitable horrid assignments such as Fort Bragg or Fort Gordon, I must once again posture before the Great Branch Managers and try to get something good, such as Fort Sam Houson, or at least something reasonable, such as Fort Lewis. Really, anywhere except the southeast. Nothing against the southeast, but… no, actually, I have a lot against at least every base in that region, so go ahead and take it personally, southeast. I don’t mind. But finding the branch manager is something of a challenge in the Army, probably because they know just how much no one wants to go certain places so by staying elusive they figure they can still staff them however they please. But I, for one, am going to fight that every step of the way, no matter who gets hurt.

That one getting hurt, given my stellar track record, will probably be me.

It brings to mind one day a few months ago, while stretching out for another fine and wonderful physical fitness session at our hangar-converted-to-gym, I happened to look in on the raquetball court. There I witnessed my life for the past six and a half years: analysts playing racquetball.

A few of the people I deal with around here are analysts by name, if not by trade. They are tragically ripped from their job and put in large security shops where they wallow in despair and check on the progress of someone’s security clearance for roughly nine hours a day. They then, as a general rule, go home and play computer games and drink soda while complaining online to analysts around the world about how their life has taken such a tragic turn and if they could only get themselves out to a large analytical element somewhere so they could really do their job.

To them I say, “Welcome to the Army. It should not have taken you this long to figure this whole thing out. I will be your glorified babysitter of the day. If you will just follow me to this dank,windowless room with nothing but a cot and a computer screen, I can show you your living quarters for the remainder of your contract.”

But I have sympathy for these poor, bespectacled friends of mine, so when we pass in the gym or out around the base we stop and converse. But needless to say, these folks are usually not what you would call the “sporty” type.

They did, during the course of this, allow my Soldier and I to come up with a new saying to replace the somewhat crude expression “Like watching monkeys doing inexplicable things to a football,” with the “inexplicable things” replaced with standard Army profanity (as per regulation, I think).

It is now “Like watching analysts play racquetball.”

One hits the ball. The ball hits the wall and shoots back and hits him in the face. The other one swings and misses on his serve. When he finally connects, it goes straight down, smashes off the floor, hits the ceiling, and catches him on the top of his head. The first one tries again and hits the side wall to have it somehow come back and catch him in the spine.

We could only watch for so long, having to get a workout in before my First Sergeant used his seventh sense to realize one of his Soldiers two hundred kilometers away was not getting proper cardiovascular instruction, but it was long enough: The saying was born.

The saying also serves to demonstrate my tenure in the Army. As mentioned, I am currently trying to get in touch with my branch manager, who is actually not my branch manager but a surprise temporary replacement since my actual branch manager seems to have disappeared within the six weeks I was galavanting between school and the field. She is obviously smarter than the rest of us, who have been trying to disappear now for years.

So I find this replacement’s number and give a call, allowing for the time change. Not only does he not pick up, but his voicemail is full. I don’t know how many calls it takes to fill up a government voice mailbox, but he reached the limit. So I sent him an email. No response. A week later try again, this time with a read receipt attached. No response. I contact someone who says he knows the guy. He says he thinks the guy is at some conference and good luck either way. Great. Somehow, I feel like I just got beaned in the spine by a rubber, spherical object.

But I have yet to give up. I have recruited others to my case, all of whom are now encountering the same difficulties. My warrant officer, who does very little after 1600 anyway, calls for me on the off-chance that his mystical warrant powers will actually come in handy (since the rest of us are still trying to figure out what exactly those powers are good for anyway). I call, my friend calls, another person interested in our job field is sending him emails… the effort is there.

But I point out that the analysts also made a very determined effort to make contact with the ball using anything other than their faces, and most times failed miserably. My theory goes that sooner or later, by chance, they eventually would hit the ball as they were supposed to and some semblance of a game would eventually appear through the chaos. That is therefore my theory here as well, that sooner or later, just by chance, I will catch him when someone he really doesn’t like is in his office so he answers the phone just to have an excuse not to talk to that person. I do that frequently, so I know it is possible. One of these days, my racquet will make contact and I can at least try to prevent myself from getting a crappy assignment. I would rather make contact and have the whole thing still come back and slam me in the ear than to watch my career bounce and roll miserably across the floor towards Fort Bragg because I was too uncoordinated to hit the thing.

But really, this analogy goes further. After all, such has been my life in the Army: wandering about, trying to accomplish great things but continually getting blindsided by whatever happens to be inbound. Usually, those things are just like the racquetballs: they are something I may have set in motion but wasn’t expecting to come back and blast me in the back of my skull a short time later.

Life in the Army is, therefore, really just one big racquetball game… and we are all really just mere analysts trying to make it through an hour-long physical fitness session with as few injuries as possible. By nature, we know that the injuries are coming; analysts are inherently uncoordinated, and we enlisted are inherently suckers when it comes to assignments or extra duties or changing something or just trying to get through a weekend without the Soldiers calling and saying, “Oops…”

So hey, I don’t know about you, but I’m getting a helmet.

1 Comment »

  1. Hi there! I just met your dad (totally charming) and wanted to say hi to you. I’ll try and catch up on your site later…

    Comment by DeltaWhiskey — 10/15/2009 @ 1:43 pm

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