Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Staff Weenie

I am ready to insert a sharp object into my ocular socket.

As I've implied on here in the past, I am currently doing my "staff tour." Good for blogging, bad for attitude.

The Air Force more or less requires its aviators to perform a staff tour between 12 and 15 years of service. The timing was right for me, even though it was early for the Air Force, when I finished up my last tour at Del Rio. Since I loved that job so much, I wanted to line myself up to go back there after this tour--so I volunteered for the staff job. What I was told was not to look for a job so much as to look for a location. My first choice was San Antonio--primarily because I could do my staff tour and still fly. Of course, the anti-Christ of the United States Air Force, the Air Force Personnel Center, said a great big "hell no" to that one. So all I did was look for someplace warm that had year-round golf. Tucson.

Unfortunately, I can't fly on this tour. I, like 98% of the people that I've told this to, think this is a monumental waste of money. Not my call. I didn't think the flying would be that big of a deal--flying three times a day six days a week wore me down after three years. Boy-o was I wrong on this one...

It took me about three days to realize that this was an occupational error of the highest magnitude. The majority of the people I work with are at the tail end of their careers. Promotion opportunities are few and far between. The average age of the workers here (a weird mix of both military and civilian) is about 45. Oh--and we, unlike the majority of the US military, are so hopelessly overmanned that we have resorted to making up work to do--something that I absolutely refuse to do.

Instead of an office I have a cubicle. I have plaques from awards I had won for flying and instructing surrounding the laptop I surf the web on--leering at me as if they are the tombstones of my flying career.

So I blog. All day.

Once in a while they give me a job to do, thinking that it will take about 300 times longer to accomplish than it actually does. The other guys here are geniuses at making that happen. It goes against everything I've done in the military--and I'm a chronic procrastinator. So I finish it in a day, and then go back to surfing the net.

When I got back from the desert I swore I wouldn't come back to this type of a work day. So, before I even got orders back home, I wrote everyone I know and asked for some type of job transfer into a leadership position. It appears to have worked.

I had about seven job offers waiting for me. Unfortunately, it's my boss that makes the call as to where I'm going. And he has a wonderful job in mind where I'll be in charge of a branch of the organization I'm in--actually in charge of people.

Well, in charge of person. One civilian and me.

The office is supposed to have seven personnel in it, which presumably we'll get at some point. Until then it will be just the two of us.

In typical fashion, though, they're taking forever to make the transfer happen. So I'm waiting.

And waiting.

And looking for a pencil to place into my eye.

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  1. Hoo boy! That's frustrating.... I hope that you get to a spot that you like -- and soon!

  2. dang, that sucks. Well, at least we get to enjoy the fruits of your labors (lol).

  3. Make work, ugh. A retired, former double-dipping E-8 here and I sure can identify with the frustration of a position like that.

    I was a fairly productive & content GS-12 at Wright-Patt, but still I opted for a early buy-out a few yrs back. They almost immediately had my replacement. He was a quick learner and I had him up to speed in about 3 months. I then surfed the Internet for 9 months until the day I hit the street.

    It was fun at first, but quickly turned into one long day after another. What a drag and what a waste of taxpayer $$.

    Hang in there, like all things, it too will eventually pass.

  4. "Staff Weenie" Welcome to the club! Navy's the same way, except the only staff location that "counts" for the Navy is DC, so consider yourself lucky there in Tucson. (I grew up in Tucson, became a Naval aviator, and now after retiring from active duty, I am a Navy civil servant, so your story has many tie-ins for me). All I can say is, "make lemonade"! Take this time to watch and learn how corporate Air Force stuff works, or doesn't work, because that knowledge will be invaluable to your life after Air Force. Also, the billet you are occupying is there for a reason, no doubt in support of the force structure in some fashion. Staffs and bureaucracies tend to take on their own agendas which are at odds with what they are supposed to be doing. Find out what your outfit's real mission is and pursue it with zeal. Use the credibility you have earned as an operator to compel the people to perform their real mission. They will ultimately respect you for that, many will rediscover their own worth and patriotic motivations, and you will be doing the taxpayer a good turn in the bargain.
    Also, things like "project management" and "program manager" will do wonders for your civilian resume that "flight leader" or "aircraft commander" will never do. We all love to fly, love the risks and the challenges, the self image and the cammeraderie, but tactical flying is a young man's game. You will have a life afterwards and now is the time to start getting ready for it. I sincerely hated my staff time, but in retrospect, it taught me lots, and when coupled with my flying experience, has allowed me to write my own ticket, and it will do the same for you, because you will be way ahead of the competition . Hang in there, the USAF has given you a gift if you choose to look at it that way. Aim high! CDR USN (ret)

  5. Sounds like a hell of a lot of these "jobs" could be eliminated to save tax money. But no, the people just have to keep paying and paying. No healthcare, no social tax...(unless of course you are rich). All the while you sit on yer butt and collect.

    I hope yer butt gets fat "surfing the internet" and you can't fit in the cockpit anymore.

  6. Commenter at 15:49: You make some good points and are correct about a couple of things. But it sounds like you need to start voting for the right side of the spectrum. The Left ("defender of the little guy") has apparently failed you since it is their policies which have led to:
    - it being virtually impossible to fire government workers no matter how useless
    - your social security account remaining rooted in 1937 reality and therefore not being worth anything after 40 years of compulsory payments (actually an interest-free loan to the govt)
    - higher taxes in general
    - your health insurance being tied to your employment in the first place

    So maybe you should call Nancy Pelosi and she can help you out. She hates rich people too (despite being one). Otherwise, carping at a military member who is talking about these issues in another context gets you nothing but the disdain of those here who are serving and have served.

  7. 15:49'er:

    Ah, my beloved brave one Mr. Anonymous. Again, it genuinely shows a great deal that when throwing rocks you fail to leave your name. Who else is like that....hmmm...oh yeah! Those guys on TV that are always wearing masks when the kidnap someone or kill innocent kids...

    You clearly missed the point of my post, but I guess that is understandable. So, I'll break it down to your intelligence level: Government hire too many people. I get put into job where I am underutilized. I (unlike a large majority of folks with your political leanings) scream and yell until they give me a job with work.

    Now seeing as MY taxpayer dollars probably supported your paycheck in some way for YOU to surf the net on this fine Friday, and that your freedom in part depends that I get my "fat butt in the cockpit," I will happily say a polite "you're welcome" and go on to my weekend.