N o
B a d
D a y s

No Bad Days

March 16th, 2006

As I write this, I am reminded of Ray Romano’s “Everybody Loves Raymond” – the episode where he has to give a eulogy. Today we are finalizing our preparations to go to the field. For my particular part of the military this consists of sleeping on the ground, waking up cold & wet, wearing flack jackets & kevlars, and toting guns around while driving HMMWVs and trying to let people send text-messages to each other.

Translation: We camp out with M16s, bullet-proof vests, helmets, POS “Hum-Vee’s”, and use oversized equipment to do what a cell phone can already do.

The point in all this is that we have a less than comfortable work environment. We have less that tolerable work conditions given that, as a Network Administrator, I hardly administer a network and more often than not become a Radio Operator. The other Admins and I have a sort of bond that noone else can comprehend. We have formed our own small family outside of which everyone is foreign. We will not reenlist and since day one, it would seem we’ve all fallen on black days.

I have seen many do so, however, and every person who has eventually asks theirselves a week, a month, or maybe even a year later, especially after they knew they had a better job lined up “on the outside.” (Yes, this life is prison-like.) They ask:

  • “Who concinved me this was a good idea?”
  • “What was I thinking?”
  • “When was this ever a good idea?”
  • “Why did I reenlist?”
  • “How could I have been so stupid?”

The answers (in order):

  • “You only.”
  • “You only know.”
  • “You only know afterwards.”
  • “Friends…”
  • “Brothers.”

If you’ve never had a friend so “best” that he called your mom “mom” and revelled in annoying your opposite-sexed sibling as much as you do, I don’t think you can truly know what this brotherhood is. For us, it is possible to say that it has a value greater than life. Just like every movie, if one true-blood brother goes or is sent to war, so must the other go. It’s not about honor, integrity, riches, glory, or fame. It’s about that other human being who is irreplaceable and invaluable.

My previous post and my lead-in to this one paint a gray picture of the world we live in. I feel that movies made of our lifestyle belong in black and white. Reminiscing and nostalgia aside, what we shared over the last four years in laughter and blood, failure or success, broken bones and broken hearts will never be bad times – never regretable, and no remorse.
We shared our lives. And as we leave this place, we will give some of that up. Those who don’t leave… who can’t leave… I know.

F O C

FOC

March 7th, 2006

…Also known in the military as Final Operational Capability. Also known in the military as “something that might never happen.” I learned this term in a class last week in reference to the infamous NMCI.

I’m not sure where I was going with that; I guess I am exasperated for my current position. I am a Sergeant, – sometimes better known as an E-5 on an E-9 scale – and I am really no more powerful than I was as E-4 or E-3 or possibly even E-2. I have unfortunately become one of the military’s paper pushers, where I should be a network administrator.

As one of my friends said last week, I should be everyones’ best friend, because I understand their computer in and out. I know what a cookie is versus a virus and that both can come from just about anything these days. Worse yet, I have an inquisitive mind that can get to the root of almost any computer related situation. But for the last 3+ years, I’ve been downgraded to the guy who asks another guy (who asks another guy) to create your e-mail account.

I also reminisce about how the military used to be, when it was an “blue collar, gung-ho” (-Wyl) proud living. Being in the military was rugged and the public had a certain respect for your sacrifice. The hottest suit in the room was a set of Dress Blues.

As I’ve seen – since I’ve been here – though, we may never reach Final Operation Capability. I’ve learned that many times the things we overcome are ourselves: our lack of supplies, manpower, political power, and even simple intelligence. I enjoy learning something new, learning a skill, making one’s living worthwhile.

I am proud to have served my country. I am proud of my service. I am proud to be an American. But I cannot be proud of “running in place” – expending energy for relatively little achievement.

A definition of success that many may be familiar with closes “To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” And so do I, in search of the world’s challenges.

O u r
h o u s e

Our house…

January 19th, 2006

I found a sticking point late last week and early this week. I almost feel like I contradict myself. On a few occasions, I have arrived home to find out that there was no parking space available for me in my apartment complex – we only get one reserved spot (which isn’t mine.) I am obliged to park on the street, my car is aging and not a lease. But probably every time I had to park on the street, moments later car from someone living in the surrounding area would come speeding by, uphill. On one occasion out of my own stubborn will and slowness to cross the street, I almost got hit, and once the driver saw me across the street, he stepped on the gas anyway.

Hard as it is for me to say it, and regardless of the speed limit, the principle of the matter is that these people need to SLOW DOWN! There are neighbors on a cross street that – even weekly – put up signs for those traversing the area to slow down because kids live there. There’s a church that does day-care in front of my apartment complex with kids of all ages running after balls and skateboarding. So, again, I wish these people would slow down!

I remember when I first got my car, no limit was a speed limit. I probably got at least 8 speeding tickets before my license was on probation. I even ended up in STOP class three times in my state and once more in Colorado. I had a sports car that went fast and that was my vice. As my “driver-ship” matured and I got more experience, I decided on one thing: to be a courteous driver, if not a slow one.

So here has come the day that when I turn to go home uphill about two and a half blocks to my humble abode, I go slow. I go 25. I go the speed limit. And everyone behind me has to suffer (which is when I get mine.)

To my son or daughter on the way, all I can say is that when I was a 16 and I just got my car, I knew I was fast, and I had lightning quick reactions. If a kid ran out in the street, I definitely did slow down – even if they were simply near it. But after seeing so many parents’ mean faces and thinking about you coming around in a few (6) months, I don’t want even the slightest chance that someone could hit you with their car.