Exercise in Patience

Filed under: — lana @ 4:07 pm

I am starting to wonder if my unit is doing this to me on purpose. Trouble is, I am not sure what “this” is, because it is all-encompassing and thus harder to define.

Let’s see. Just today:

I discovered that my payment for travel from which I returned over two months ago has been sitting at the same office for the past 12 (soon to be 13) days. My Commander called them last week to get them to sign it and move it along, since it needs just their signature and one more to pay me, but apparently he doesn’t hold enough sway. The Sergeant Major is apparently trying now. It is a curious phenomenon, as these people are civilians and can therefore be replaced. I assume it is indicative of how word is spreading to others about this unit, even culling the Europe-dwelling civilian herd to the lame and dull so if we were to fire these (which have their competent days, just not in the past few months) we would struggle to find replacements. I am pretty convinced that my lack of payment has something to do with someone saying “Uh oh” sometime within the past year which now indicates lack of funding. I wonder how they will explain that to the bank, because I don’t want to get involved anymore.

Then I received an email from the head of the health clinic who spoke to the main personnel division for Europe’s medical command. He was asking about my Purple Heart and CAB. He was told “This is Personnel 101.” I still requested that he get it spelled out, because it will be needed. Today he confirmed my worst fears: everything has to go back through my current unit. Again. Let’s see if they can get it right THIS time. Doubtful. I will have the backup packet ready for my next unit. One would think it would be easy. Look at evidence. Determine if evidence supports criteria as defined in published regulations. Evidence does. Sign paper and move it forward. Repeat until a General looks at it. General signs and sends to Human Resources. Human Resources grants badges because oh, right, those particular things are already defined in regulations and you either meet the criteria or you don’t. I happen to, so easy, right? Apparently this has puzzled entities higher paid than I for four years running. And so the games shall continue on Wednesday.

So kick forward to later in the day, because everything in the middle was also mundane to include trying to puzzle through a conversation where someone admitted to having an imaginary pet hermit crab when she was eight. No, really, and when I asked her if she had a real terrarium to hold the pretend hermit crab in she answered that no, that was where her real pet lizard was kept and looked at me as if I were stupid. My brain bled a little in its attempt to escape the pain.

My resident fool, for whom I have had to follow up on his little cardiac problem since he seems to think 39 is ancient and therefore he should be absolved of all decisions regarding his health and well-being and accept “You’re getting older” as an excuse for nearly passing out doing pull-ups, went to the doctor after my repeated pestering (of the doctors and of him). Turns out my pestering of the doctors got a referral into the system for him a week ago but he didn’t know because he didn’t ask, walked into the doctor today and was turned right around with a comment of “Your referral has been in for a week. You could have just called and asked.” The doctor doesn’t like him much, either. The doctor is 79 and has little patience for the under-40 age group trying to say they are too old to run. I like that doctor.

Then, maybe a half an hour before closing time on my warrant’s schedule and the Commander calls to ask if my Soldier has a government travel card because he needed to send her on temporary duty halfway across the country for two weeks starting, oh, let’s just say in the next 18 hours. Time frame nonwithstanding in this unit, even this was a little irritating, but needed to be dealt with because the Commander was just as annoyed. Now, things like government cards are usually standard applications upon inprocessing, but I wasn’t around when she inprocessed and have been finding that a remarkable number of things that should have been done for her were somehow overlooked. The person leading her around during inprocessing, the “Old Man” as it were, emits maybe one nanowatt of brain power per year on average, and that is only if I am really making him try extra hard by asking him simple questions to lead him to a correct answer, so I had my doubts. I called. Nope, she didn’t have one and thought the magical government card fairies would take care of it because she didn’t really bother to mention it either. My fault, I should have asked instead of assuming things would have been done correctly in the first place. I talked to her about using a personal card for meals and getting reimbursed (a pipe dream, but maybe someday…), and she said she had one. I told her the hotel fees would be taken care of and arrangements were already being made through other resources. She agreed and I got a long-winded story I didn’t care to listen to about exactly how much is on her card.

Should have asked more questions, because I foolishly assumed that at least said personal card would be one readily accepted in, say, German dining establishments. She called me later to mention that she has an American Express card. Foolish me. Germans don’t take American Express, along with most of the world. She doesn’t know where another card is, though she thinks she has one in the house somewhere. I stopped her because I didn’t want to have another aneurism today.

I mentioned that at least today was payday, so can she figure out how to get enough money to sustain for a bit and then we can advance pay her in the system to cover the rest? Well, she could, but oh wait the money goes to an account her husband can access and not her. She has to wait for him (and he is currently deployed) to put money in her account. She has little liquid assets until he can get to it. They haven’t gotten around to fixing that stuff yet.

Great. So I would have to talk to someone about rushing her advance payments, then. Okay. I then mentioned that we have to make sure her accounts are all correct in the pay system and we would talk to the movement people in the morning. I then double-checked, starting to learn my lesson now, that she even registered in the pay system.

Of course not. And of course she never thought it important enough to talk to me about, only her husband who is in a completely different Major Command. Her (giggly, because she seems to find it immensely funny when she screws up) response was “Well, he looked to see if he could sign me up,” here I pause, because you sign in yourself because it is unit-driven payments, “and he couldn’t because he’s not actually responsible for me! Teeheheehehehehehehe!” I responded, in the most patient tone possible, that perhaps then she might have thought to bring it up to the people who ARE responsible for her? As in, perhaps, me? “Oh. Well, I didn’t really think of it. I just thought something was screwed up and it would fix itself eventually! Guess I could have asked… Oops! Teeheehee!”

Instead of seeing if I could reach my hand through the phone to choke her, I reminded her that her husband has no bearing on her success in the Army and that there are also no magical finance or any other fairies in the Army to fix her issues. She giggled again, so I calmed myself by pretending to have a pet hermit crab and imagining how happy it is at having found a new home in her vacant skull. It’s very theraputic.

So tomorrow, I, having too much real work to do in order to do this myself, have to trust fool number one to take fool number two back out to the company where fool number two can fill out the paperwork and get herself into the pay system and apply for a government card, and then be whisked away from me for a glorious two weeks. Meanwhile, fool number one has to pick up some equipment, load it into the government car, take the car to another post, switch it out for a new car, remember to move the equipment and anything else we own to the new car, get all the proper paperwork, and then drive back to us without getting horribly lost even with a navigation system. Last time, he ended up an hour north of us and I had to guide him back because he had the Soldier I liked in the car with him. This time he might not be so lucky, since my warrant is signing for all of the equipment anyway and I am not so sure I want any of these people back, so I don’t really have any alliegance to seeing any of it again.

My patience wears thin. I have little hope of seeing my awards before the turn of the next century, so instead I called my Branch Manager to again plead with him to send me to a course to which I should have already attended, what with promotion boards coming up and all. His mailbox, just like last week, is full.

Xenu might want to get out of my head while he can; my frontal lobe is stockpiling explosives, trying to make good once and for all my brain’s escape in a last ditch effort to save itself. I might just let it go this time in the heroic move that should it be able to get free at least one of us can survive to warn others.

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