This Commanding Officer Really Nailed It

, , , , , | Working | May 18, 2021

One of the most annoying things in the army is the inspections. You have to shine your boots, cut your hair, iron your clothes, wash your clothes — you do NOT want to know how many soldiers don’t wash their uniforms — mop the floors, sweep the floors, brush your teeth — again, you do NOT want to know — clip your fingernails…

Long story short, there’s a whole laundry list (literally) of things to do, and because we’re guys, we never do anything until the last twenty-four hours or so before inspection.

My platoon made it out okay. But then, after we were done, our commanding officer came in.

Commanding Officer: “I have good news for everyone. Our order for new dividers finally came in. I need Section 11 to go outside and bring it in. Section 9 will remove the old dividers. Section 13 will assemble the new ones.”

You know that old joke where the military always goes for the cheapest bidder? It’s true. Our computers are secondhand 2002 models. Our chairs are falling apart, and instead of getting replacements, we’re forced to cannibalise broken chairs for parts to repair the dwindling number of less broken chairs and dig up cheap plastic ones from storage. And instead of actual cubicles, we have styrofoam dividers between our desks, held over the gap between them by ice cream sticks stuck through them. We’re even so cheap that once we ran out of ice cream sticks, we used old pens instead.

Finally, after an eternity of putting up with disintegrating styrofoam, we have new dividers.

The new dividers that we got are plexiglass, which means that they have an adhesive paper covering stuck onto them for protection. Which means…

Commanding Officer: “Section 13, what’s the holdup with the dividers?”

Me: “Ma’am, none of us have fingernails right now. Did you really have to schedule the inspection today?”

Commanding Officer: “Uh, oops. Right, in hindsight that was not a good idea.”

Me: *Sarcastically* “You think?”

Commanding Officer: “Sorry.” *Sighs* “Pass me that. I’ll peel the paper off.”

We eventually got a system working. The people with fingernails, pretty much only our superior officers, would peel off a corner before passing it to one of us, where we would peel off the rest.

Commanding Officer: “Good work, everyone. Again, I apologise for the inspection this morning. As was pointed out to me, it was a very foolish timing. As an apology, I will give you all one hour to smash up the styrofoam boards.”

Platoonmate #1: “Really? We’re not recycling them or something?”

Platoonmate #2: “Who would want them? They’re all falling apart.”

Officer: “And a lot of them have classified information written on them, so we will be destroying them anyway.”

Commanding Officer: “So go destroy them, boys!”

Everyone shrugs and starts smashing stuff. Section 9 carved up the most intact boards into weapons and tried to murder each other. Section 11 balled up the adhesive paper into a ball and used the boards for target practise. Section 13 embraced our inner Kung-Fu and made a game of smashing them apart with the most absurd martial arts moves. Even the officers joined in on the fun and acted as “judges” for our impromptu events.

Commanding Officer: “Did everyone have fun?”

Us: “Yes, ma’am.”

Commanding Officer: “Was that sufficient apology?”

Us: “Yes, ma’am.”

Commanding Officer: “Good.” *Pauses* “Because you now all have to clean up the mess.”

She then walked off with the rest of the officers, leaving us behind, smirking as we all protested and complained about betrayal.

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Pilfered Copper And Stolen Valor

, , , , , , | Working | May 17, 2021

My coworker gets a lot of extra slack around the office, even though he is a truly difficult, aggravating, and even rude person at times. We all give him extra time and space. He puts his attitude down to his injury he picked up in active service; it causes him a lot of pain and affects his mood. The owner is a massive supporter of injured service personnel, so we all genuinely try to be more mindful.

One day, [Rude Coworker] loses it and has a massive shouting match over nothing with one of the office girls. She leaves in tears and ends up quitting. [Rude Coworker] is called into a meeting with Human Resources and the owner. Somehow, he keeps his job.

Even so, the rest of the staff aren’t happy; most people are angry. We are chatting in the break room later that day.

Coworker: “[Rude Coworker] has gone too far.”

New Guy: “He has always had a bad temper.”

Me: “Oh, did you serve with him?”

New Guy: “Serve?”

Coworker: “In the military.”

New Guy: *Laughing* “[Rude Coworker] was never in the military; they wouldn’t take him cause of his record.”

Me: “This is [Rude Coworker] [Last Name] we are talking about? The one with a limp?”

New Guy: “Yeah, that [Rude Coworker]. I was with him when he got that limp, in fact, climbing out of that factory window. We were stealing a load of copper wire. Of course, I got a suspended sentence because it was his idea.”

Coworker: “Right! I am not having this.”

She marched into HR in a fury and told them everything. The new guy got pulled in, and then so did [Rude Coworker]. [Rude Coworker] was sent home while they investigated, but he didn’t wait for the outcome and quit the next day. 

I heard when the owner found out, he told the team that he would personally give any recruiter the honest truth about him should he dare put the company down as a reference.

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Literally Working Smarter, Not Harder

, , , , , , | Working | March 16, 2021

At my first duty station for the Navy after boot camp — a yearlong training program with very demanding classes eight to ten hours per weekday — in addition to classes and other duties, we had physical training three times a week. Periodically, there are also command runs. I hate running with a passion. I will do any other cardio to avoid it. Sadly, we have a commanding officer who wants us to do command runs monthly.

My collateral duty is being the division yeoman, keeping track of our training and paperwork. This included signing everyone in for command runs. Our division leadership wants us all to do as much college work as possible because a combo of college equivalency exams (CLEPs and DSSTs) and our weekday classes could become an AA degree. This seems pointless for me since I have a BA already, but I realize fast that this is a wonderful new way to avoid command runs; we are excused from the runs to do our tests. As a divisional yeoman, I am one of the first to find out about our new schedule each month, so as soon as I see the schedule, I schedule myself a CLEP test that “happens” to coincide with the command run.

My division leadership probably realizes what I am doing, but since I am passing the CLEPs, they don’t care. But I have a PT leader shipmate who takes personal offense to my avoiding command runs. One month, I notice that the command run is scheduled for a day that is a holy day in my religion. I check to see what my options for fulfilling the religious obligation are. The only way I can do it would be after class, at the same time as the command run. Of course, I have to inform my division leadership about why I am missing the run. As luck would have it, the PT leader shipmate is in their office, too. The conversation goes something like this.

Shipmate: “Let me guess. You’re scheduling another CLEP so you can’t make the command run?”

Me: “No, I can’t make it this month because it’s on a holy day in my religion and it conflicts with the only time I can make the observance.”

Division Chief: “Okay, not a problem. Do your thing.”

Shipmate: “What religion are you anyway?”

Me: “I’m [Religion].”

Shipmate: *Smirking* “So am I! What’s the holy day?”

Me: “It’s [Holy Day]… so I guess I’ll see you at the service?”

He looked very surprised. And I didn’t see him at the service. Also, I transferred to my next command with fifteen classes worth of CLEPs and DSSTs!

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I’ll Hold Him Down While You Punch

, , , , | Working | March 9, 2021

When basic military training begins, conscripts have to go through something called Confinement Week, which is actually two and a half weeks of staying in camp without the ability to leave. We all have to live in the barracks. Needless to say, the first week is exceptionally grating, as everyone tries to live with a dozen other strangers with their own bad habits.

We’ll either emerge from that as brothers or emerge wanting to murder each other. Alas, for my section, we emerge wanting to gut each other.

In particular, two of my sectionmates get into a feud during this week: [Sectionmate #1] and [Sectionmate #2]. They’re assigned the same bunk bed.

On our second or third night, [Sectionmate #2]’s alarm starts blaring and [Sectionmate #1] wakes up. He gets up and starts his morning routine, only to check his phone and realise it is three in the morning. He angrily shuts off the alarm and goes back to bed.

Later in the morning, [Sectionmate #1] confronts [Sectionmate #2].

Sectionmate #1: “Why did you set your alarm for three am?!”

Sectionmate #2: “Oh, I wanted to wake up at three am to go pee, so I set my alarm to wake me up.”

That night, the same thing happens. [Sectionmate #2] forgets to turn off his alarm and winds up waking [Sectionmate #1] again, and a few others this time. And the same thing happens again the night after that, which really makes [Sectionmate #1] cranky.

He forces his bunkmate to turn off his alarm in front of him and another two guys, all of them confirming that the alarm is deactivated.

On day seven, [Sectionmate #2] is confronted again, as his alarm keeps going off at five am, which is an all right time to wake up, but he never wakes up, forcing us to turn his alarm off for him. It doesn’t help that his alarm has the worst, and I mean the WORST sound. His response?

Sectionmate #2: “Ah, but it wakes you guys up. And you guys always wake me up, so it’s doing its job!”

We had to pull [Sectionmate #1] off of [Sectionmate #2], which wasn’t easy, considering that he was the biggest guy in the section. It didn’t help that everyone was tired of the alarms waking them up, so half the stronger guys didn’t help, and the other half only helped so that THEY could assault [Sectionmate #2].

Amazingly enough, those two made it through the remaining eight weeks of the nine-week training without a murder.

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This Is The Army, Major D**k

, , , , , , | Friendly | March 2, 2021

I’m going to meet my sister at a restaurant, and I have a service dog. She’s responsible for keeping me company for panic attacks and PTSD, which was brought on by my time in the military. It’s a time in my life which I normally don’t like to talk about, but it’s important to know for this story.

I enter the restaurant, and the hostess tells me that it will be a few minutes before a table opens up and I am welcome to wait until then. I notice a few people looking at my dog. My dog is a golden retriever, not particularly aggressive or unpredictable; normally, she’s a ball of sunshine. But today, someone decides to be rude about it. 

Man: “Hey, there’s no dogs allowed, buddy.”

Man’s Wife: “Honey, it’s a service dog. They have to allow them.”

Man: “This guy isn’t blind or deaf! He doesn’t need a freaking dog!”

Man’s Wife: “[Man], service dogs do more than help the blind or deaf. They can help with seizures, blood sugar, and so many other things.”

Man: “Hey, buddy, what do you have? Why do you supposedly ‘need’ a service dog?”

Man’s Wife: “[Man]! Don’t be rude!”

Me: “I served time in the army. I fought in a war. I have panic attacks and PTSD because I saw so much death and destruction and was forced to kill two men to save my own life and that of my squad members.”

I could feel myself starting to get worked up. My service dog laid her head on my leg and whined, and I took the pills my doctor prescribed and petted her until I calmed down. By then, my sister had arrived at the restaurant, and the man looked properly abashed. His wife told me that her husband was a major d**k, and that I was a hero and I was the reason why he was allowed to be a major d**k.

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