Monday, June 23, 2008

Well, I'm not dead...

Three years ago last Saturday, I died.

Then, three years ago yesterday, I died again.

Since then, I haven't died (except, of course, for la petit mort, which is all The Mrs.' fault.) And to be honest, I've never complained about that.

Many of you, (is two equal to many?) have written to wonder if I had fallen off the face of the earth. Not quite, but I can see it from here. I planned to blog my cross-country trip to Washington, and other than a few restaurant reviews, that failed miserably.

I planned to keep everyone up to date on my current state, and that too, has failed miserably. My beloved code monkey has even wondered where I went.

Here's the 411:

Like last summer, I am out at the Leadership Development Assessment Course, living in the woods at Fort Lewis, Washington. Unlike last year, where I led patrols and had a direct impact on training individuals, this year I am the overall operations planner for the patrolling committee. I write the plans, others go on to lead the patrols. Granted, the job is more in line with my pay grade, but is far from personally rewarding. Most days I sit in a tent and work on PowerPoint slides and excel spreadsheets, get yelled at by our fairly belligerent committee chief who enjoys servicing targets with shotgun blasts instead of well-aimed and placed shots. I attribute it to poor leadership styles of those who've led him over the years.

Because I have been sequestered for so long in the woods, the internet access we were supposed to have out here (100Mbps) and backup wireless broadband, was in actuality no wireless broadband and twisted pair 9600 baud. Not exactly conducive to blogging. I managed to find and purchase a high-gain antenna for my Verizon air card, and now I have teh intarweb on my laptop, but folks seem to think that my personal laptop is open for anyone to use to chat with teen boys on yahoo and such.

Even changing my password to "eatshit" wasn't discouraging to them. I had to stop bringing my laptop to the woods, which greatly reduces my ability to use the voice software, and as such slows productivity in producing slides and such, which leads to more frequent ass-chewings. Of course, working in a noisy tactical operations center isn't exactly a prime location for the voice software either, so I suppose I'm screwed either way.

So, I've driven three thousand miles to sit in a tent for the summer. I will not get to see Bubba's first few football practices, Adelle's soccer games, or get the whole le petit mort for the next two months because I am an overpaid slide bitch. Unlike last year, hard as the training was, I actually got as much out of it as I put into it, and made an impact on training leaders. Not so much this summer, the physical discomfort is greatly reduced, but the mental stress and lack of job satisfaction has increased exponentially.

I hate this job; toc bitch, S-3, Operations Officer, whatever you want to call it. I've done it everywhere from Kuwait to Kosovo and all points in between. It's a job where the boss is never happy with you, and the people who actually need your products never get them in a timely manner because a font is wrong, or a slide isn't formatted properly. Worse still, the end users never provide good feedback to tell you when your products help, how to improve to better help them, or when you are 90 degrees off true.

Most TOC's (and especially this one) focus on form over functionality, and eye wash takes precedence over common sense. On my desk (a folding table) is a phone that isn't connected to anything, a printer with no ink, a painter's paper dropcloth as a table skirt (god forbid someone should see the stuff under my desk, and a power strip. We had to build a 1/2 height wall out of sand bags across the TOC, for no reason other than it looks cool. All charts are printed on a plotter, and hung on plastic backing boards, which means that after I figure out which slides to display above my desk (not to be confused with which slides I can actually use) I have to drive the electrons in a thumb drive 20 miles to the training aid support center to get printed on a plotter, mounted on the boards, and covered in clear plastic. Since it's a drop-off, not while you wait, that means I have to drive back (20 miles) to work, and then make a return trip (20 miles) to the training aid center later in the day (20 miles) to pick up the finished product (assuming they are complete (and I can't very well call, because there is seldom a signal in these woods) and IF the products are ready, drive them back to the TOC, hang them up, and forget about them.

80+miles in a pickup truck (a gummint vehicle, not my own) for pure unadulterated eyewash. And then someone will decide that they need a different chart, or that they don't like they way I track information because it isn't intuitive to them, or that it isn't the way they did it when they were the ops guy in another unit with a different mission.

So, work sucks, I'm tired (days start at 0500 and usually seem to end at 0400) I'm getting tired of a steady diet of beef jerky and funyuns, stale burned coffee, and cold soup. (Actually, those are supplements to my steady diet of anger, regret, and nicotine.) I'm really sick of getting my ass chewed because other people couldn't give clear guidance if they were giving someone directions down a one way street, and because things aren't progressing as fast as they want, in the manner they want. So far, I've been nodding my head and doing the "yes sir" dick dance, but my dance card is getting full and my stupid shit o-meter is pinging in the red. Sooner or later the "I'm medicated but still in pain, tired, frustrated, and really don't give a flying fuck if you don't like the way I did something, especially when the end product is only for my use... sir." argument is going to come out, and since I can only be fired and sent home early, I really don't see many drawbacks to doing that.

Just bitching.


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