Basic Communication

Filed under: — lana @ 2:38 pm

Thursday was yet another day in this humdrum life I call the Army. That is to say, it was full of mishaps and misadventures that usually end up with me being at least an hour away from anywhere practical and moderately annoyed. Most of this, as usual, happens because someone doesn’t feel like listening. Usually, that is because listening might involve work, and there are definitely some work-adverse people in my daily life.

I began my day with the Semi-Tri-Annual Local Area German Random People Somewhat Affiliated to Us Meeting. While that may appear to be a long title, and is indeed one that we made up, it is shorter and more pronouncable than whatever it is actually called. It happens approximately once every year and a half, so that is the best we could come up with. Also, the German who works at my office could not seem to really identify who would be there aside from the one guy who passed us the invitation, so I had to wager a guess. I did not wager much. I asked my warrant to assist, particularly since preparation work needed to be done, and to attend with me. He decided that it would be better if I went alone, leaving him to attend a huge ceremony on our base that would leave him alone for the better part of the day. I chided myself for asking him to actually work and instead concentrated on preparing for the meeting.

At the meeting, I was to present something. I also had to wager a guess at this, since the instructions were not terribly specific. I opted to name some of the threats to U.S. Forces in Germany and what we do to counter those threats. I figured that such a briefing must exist somewhere already in the vast system we call our analytical section.

I figured wrong, forgetting the work-adverse nature of certain elements. They sent me a few items, mostly newspaper articles. I ended up making up the presentation, picking hot topics like “Terrorism,” phrasing them like they were new and exciting, and stressing how the Germans have to do all of the work anyway for any investigation off-post, but we are certainly there for moral support. Go, Team! Oddly, they seemed to react well to the whole thing, with the head of the meeting expounding upon some of the examples I provided. Very heartwarming. My warrant, when he saw me working on the briefing and regularly harassing analysts and everyone else I knew in the country for an official briefing, told me that he must had misunderstood the nature of the meeting and didn’t know it would be so much work for me. He was very proud of me for having done it, however.

Now, I had to leave the Semi-Tri Annual Local Area German Random People Somewhat Affiliated to Us Meeting early on account of the fact that no one could give me a straight answer if there existed an implied task for me to head to the area of the Company headquarters and watch the Sergeant Major of the Army give a speech and try to score myself a coin. A warrant officer told me that it was not required, but I couldn’t shake the guilty feeling. Since at present I was the highest-ranking enlisted person in the Company actually working, I changed into my uniform and headed to the theater.

At the theater I ran into every enlisted person from the tenent infantry unit waiting in the lobby. I promptly walked back out of the theater and went back to the headquarters. Mission failure. I decided to wait around, because my warrant officer had told me in no uncertain terms that a piece of equipment for our computer network would arrive at the Company and I had to pick it up and return. His persistence had even caused me to set up for the local tech guys to come bright and early the next working day for the installation.

And so I sat and waited. And waited. And waited. Luckily, there was a suspicious package scare with some powdery substance occuring back at my home station, so I filled my time writing reports that my warrant had not done because he misunderstood another warrant who told him that it was unnecessary. The other warrant had actually told him that until my warrant had more information it was unnecessary, but that was not how it was heard as that would have meant my warrant would have had to get the information and then actually write it. My warrant called me from the office several times to give me all of the information, but assured me the reports weren’t required. Skeptical, I called the other warrant and discovered the miscommunication. By then, naturally, my warrant had been told to clear out of the office by the emergency personnel and was not about to go to the other locations where they had access to the reporting system two blocks away. But I didn’t really mind, seeing as it filled my time waiting for our communications guys to deliver the equipment. His reaction to my having to write the reports? “Oops. Thought it sounded odd that we wouldn’t report that. Huh. Well, thanks!”

Still I waited. Three hours later, the communications guys finally showed up. I asked them for our equipment. They gave me a blank look instead. Several phone calls later, it turns out that when my warrant had heard “The equipment will be hand-delivered tomorrow because these guys have to go down to your company anyway, so send your NCO to spend her afternoon picking it up,” what our communications shop had actually said was “Your request for that equipment has finally been sent up to Brigade and may take a little while longer yet for approval. Don’t expect it anytime soon, much less tomorrow.”

I tried to grab a computer or something just so I didn’t go back empty-handed, but my commander caught me. The computers, one of which actually belongs to our office to replace my ancient machine, were still not network-ready anyway.

My warrant’s reaction to this one? “Hmm… I must have misunderstood. Oops! So, when you coming back? Yeah, sorry about it being well after the duty day already and all with you still being way near the eastern border, but I’m on my way home for the night. Anything else you need?”

I asked him go fetch me a sandwich to leave on my desk. I figured since my whole day was largely his fault, I may as well get something out of the guy for the day.

Lo and behold, he screwed up my order. Says it was some sort of miscommunication. The sandwich was still good, but I have decided that from now on I am only communicating with him in writing and recommending that others do the same. Simple words, large print, on sticky notes left on his computer screen. I have around six months left here, so I need something to be done right once in awhile before I lose my mind.

I am not, as it turns out, going to ask him to do the supply request for this new method of communication; I do not even want to see what would happen should I ask him to order pads of sticky notes.

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