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Following Orders… Literally

, , , , | Working | September 17, 2021

Back in the mid-1980s, I was a junior Non-Commissioned Officer that worked across from a Major in a cubicle farm. I didn’t actually work for him — he had several dozen junior enlisted and NCOs working for him — but my desk was just the closest to his.

I was the single person in charge of tracking all computers and peripherals for the unit, and I was writing software and creating databases and procedures for a couple hundred new computers that were to be installed in a different building, so my BS tolerance was fairly low. The fact that I also reported to a full Colonel granted me a bit of leeway in my ability to get away with things.

The major stepped into my cubicle.

Major: “Sergeant [My Name], I need a copy of this floppy disk right away.”

Me: “Sir, can you ask someone else to do it? I’m kind of busy.”

Major: “No, you’re closest, and I need you to do this now!

Me: “No problem, Major.”

I take the disk, walk over to the copy machine, slap the disk onto the glass, and make a paper copy of the disk. I hand him the disk and the paper.

Me: “Will there be anything else, sir?”

He looked like he was about to blow a fuse, but I just went back to my desk and continued my assigned duties. He didn’t say anything else to me, but I heard him go over to one of his NCOs and get the disk copied.

I did have to report to my Colonel to answer the Major’s complaint about me, but when I gave my side of the story, the Colonel laughed. The Major was also told that if he wished to task me with anything, it needed to go through the Colonel.

It pays to be a smarta** sometimes.

Luckily, This Lieutenant Dan Has Legs

, , , , , , | Working | September 1, 2021

I’m in the Royal Canadian Navy. There is a young officer in my unit whom we shall call Lt. Dan. I’m a senior NCO, Petty Officer First Class — for American readers, this is NATO OR-7, not OR-6). I don’t work for Lt. Dan directly, but we cross paths pretty regularly during the day, so we know each other to talk to. He’s a bit on the loud and brash side, but I’ve certainly worked for and with worse.

Lt. Dan’s car is in the shop being worked on, and on Friday, he gets a call around stand-easy saying it’s ready, so out in the smoker, he asks me if I can give him a lift. I don’t have a problem with that since it’s more or less on the way home for me anyway. Traffic is always heavy when the dockyard lets out and even worse on Fridays, and I’m stuck behind someone who wants to turn left across a stream of oncoming traffic. This is when the fun starts.

Lt. Dan: “F*** me, what’s his a**hole’s problem? Give him a honk; get his a** moving.”

Me: “Gotta wait for a break in traffic.”

Lt. Dan: “Well, pull around him, then!”

There’s a bike lane but it’s certainly not car-wide. Besides… it’s a bike lane. With people riding bikes in it.

Me: “No can do, sir.”

Left-turn man gets his break in the traffic, and we move on.

Next, it’s the stop-and-go coming up to the bridge ramp, and Lt. Dan is unhappy because traffic is merging and that means taking turns. He thinks that I should just push through and not let anyone in. On the bridge, every other driver annoys him in some manner, including someone who signals and then changes lanes. I’m getting annoyed with Lt. Dan, and once we clear the toll booth on the far side, I pull over.

Me: “Get out, sir.”

Lt. Dan: “What? Why?”

Me: “You’ve done nothing but b**** about my driving and other drivers and I’ve had enough. We’re about three klicks from the shop; you can walk or take a taxi.”

Lt. Dan: “You can’t just kick me out here; that’s illegal!”

Me: “That’s bull, sir. I’m not a taxi service; I can kick you where I feel like it. I was ready to kick you out in the middle of the bridge, but that would’ve been illegal.”

Lt. Dan: “You want to be charged for insubordination?”

Me: “Not particularly, sir, but you do you. Meanwhile, are you getting out or do I get one of the bridge police to come over?”

He got out with very bad grace and further threats of disciplinary action. I left him there to make his way to his car and thought no more of it.

It turned out that he really was daft enough to pursue it, as I got called into the coxswain’s office on Monday. (For US readers, the coxswain of a Canadian ship is the most senior NCO onboard — what you would call the Command Master Chief.)

The coxswain was already dubious about the story as presented by Lt. Dan, and my side of things pretty much cemented the matter being dropped. Needless to say, Lt. Dan does not get rides from senior NCOs at this unit any longer. The lesson here is to never piss off the chiefs and POs.

He Should’ve Taken That Number With Him

, , , , , , | Working | August 24, 2021

I am a network engineer on a navy base. I was hired to take the place of another engineer who moved to a new building on base. I sit at his desk and use his computers, I have his desk phone, and I ate his leftover cough drops. I also have his old phone number, which has occasionally caused some confusion with people who haven’t checked the directory for updates.

The phone rings.

Me: “PAC Fleet Support, this is [My Name].”

Man: “Hi, I’m looking for [Predecessor]?”

Me: “He moved to a position in the NOC; I now have his former position. Is there something I can help you with?”

Man: “No, I was told specifically to talk to him. Do you have his number?”

Me: “He doesn’t have his own desk phone anymore. His team at the NOC shares one phone. I can give you their number and you can ask for him if he is not the one who answers.”

Man: “Oh… Wait, what about [phone number]? That’s what I was told was his number.”

Me: “That… that is now my number. It’s the one you just called, which is why you are now speaking with me.”

Man: *Pauses* “Oh, yeah… What’s the number for the NOC?”

Time To Bite The Bullet, Part 4

, , , , , | Working | July 14, 2021

This is a story I heard from my senior about his boot camp sectionmate. One guy, having heard all sorts of horror stories about Potong Jalan, was desperate to avoid it. He somehow managed to get himself FIVE girlfriends, with the idea that, and I quote:

Sectionmate: “Even if one or two break up with me, I’ll still have three. No way after service I won’t have a girlfriend.”

I know, right? What a scumbag.

His plan flopped from the get-go, because all five girlfriends insisted on sending him off on his enlistment date, and when they all turned up, they realized he was five-timing them.

After the shouting match, [Sectionmate] went to his knees and begged.

Sectionmate: *Tearfully* “Please let me have all five of you.”

His harem wasn’t amused. Cue mass dumping.

Apparently, [Sectionmate] cried himself to sleep for his first week of boot camp. His platoon was all too busy laughing their guts out to console him. Even the officers were amused.

Time To Bite The Bullet, Part 3
Time To Bite The Bullet, Part 2
Time To Bite The Bullet

Say What You Mean, Sarge

, , , , , , | Working | CREDIT: LiathGray | July 9, 2021

Like many people in the military, I too have had leadership entering stupid contests and winning stupid prizes. This time was one of my favorites.

Our First Sergeant — the highest-ranked noncommissioned officer in an Army Company, basically a very senior management type — tells all the young’uns to clean the area around headquarters, including washing the whitewashed rocks that are surrounding all the pretty landscaping, which is something we have to do about once or twice a month or so.

So, we’re out there with buckets of soapy water, washing the stupid rocks, when he comes out to inspect and declares that the washed rocks still look dingy and we need to “bleach them” to get them white again. Then, he proceeds to check out and go home for the weekend, leaving us to execute his orders without much in the way of supervision. Our sole junior sergeant who is left in charge isn’t the brightest bulb in the box, if you catch my meaning.

Now, anyone who knows anything knows that bleach ain’t gonna do a thing to make a rock change color. What he meant for us to, and indeed what we should do, is repaint the rocks white again. And as it turns out, we don’t have paint, but we do have a couple of bottles of Clorox. A couple of soldiers make a token protest, but our genius junior sergeant tells them, “Top told us to bleach the rocks, and we’re gonna bleach them!”

So, we spend the rest of our day bleaching the rocks.

Top comes back on Monday to a bunch of still-grey-and-dingy-looking rocks and lots of dead landscaping. Turns out, bleach is bad for plants. He is livid but he has a hard time finding someone to get in trouble for it, since we all did exactly what we were told to do.

The best thing, though, is that for the rest of my time in that unit, no one ever told us to wash the rocks again.