Stupid assumptions about the new guys turn out to be stupid …


So I'm a chick in an opera circa 1850?

So I'm a chick in an opera circa 1850?

Ever heard about something happening and jumped to a conclusion as to why it happened only to later find out you were an idiot for ever thinking that?

Welcome to my everydayoftheweek.

Okay, it happens to everyone.  

For example, You hear that Whitney Houston has died and you logically assume it’s because you wished a painful death on her because of that time you had to  hear her song “the greatest love of all” 14 uberillion times in a row while synching a slide transition for some slideshow or another.

“I hope that fucking bitch is beaten with garden hoses while angry (are there any other kind) cannibals rip at her still living flesh!” 

Then you find out she died having a glass of wine in the tub, which is basically how I want to go if you substitute wine with beer and tub with tons of naked hot chicks.

Or maybe, I know why Germany invaded France in both World Wars, the weather in Germany sucks and have you been to a French beach ever?    Oh, so it wasn’t because of the weather or the beaches, shit.

We’ve all done it and I think the older you get the harder it is to realize you did it.

Which means of course, I just did it.

Sometime between 1990 and 1991 Dave Bixler (I think that was the name) handed me a book titled The Straight Dope.   The gist of it is

also known as 'the dope'

the author, Cecil Adams (a fictional ‘world’s smartest man’ character) answered readers questions no matter how weird (why is poop brown) or conspiratorial (is the dull side of aluminum for food and the shiny side poisonous) or whatever.

Thus began my love affair with conspiracies and urban legends.   I purposefully wait a few weeks before going to www.snopes.com so there will be several additions to the ‘what’s new’ tab.   I love to read about how the government was behind the 9-11 attacks, or the fact that our president is a Muslim Kenyan Atheist and that aliens shot Kennedy with Cuban supplied CIA weapons and HOLY SHIT SOMEONE JUST STOLE MY KIDNEY … well you get the point.

Bizarre segue follows but bear with me …

In 1989, as a private at the Defense Information School at Fort Benjamin Harrison Indiana, I was informed by my drill sergeant that I was a prima donna.  

I had no clue what a prima donna was to be honest — so shit, maybe I was one.   To be fair the drill sergeant didn’t say, “Okay next week’s duty roster has been posted, we’re conducting physical training at 0630 tomorrow and Private Oliver, You’re a prima donna, dismissed.”

He meant all of us young aspiring U.S. military journalist and broadcasters … we were all prima donnas.  Of course this was said by the tough-grizzled drill sergeant in charge of a bunch of hopeful journalists and broadcasters, so there’s that.

Yes Drill Sergeant, I do have a question. What the hell is a Prima Donna? What's that? Do pushups? But that doesn't really ... awwww nevermind.

I heard it time and time again over my 20-year career.   Fact or fiction (let’s be honest here its more fact).  I heard it in different forms.   Rumors flew that during the Public Affairs Officer’s Course the instructors taught it as fact.  I was once told I would have been fired for some stunt or another but because I was a ‘creative journalist’ type the offense was forgotten and forgiven.

Fast forward (backwards?) to 2007 when I was told by my sergeant major that my beloved career field would for this day forward only take, as new inductees, people who were already non-commissioned officers from other military specialties.    Only people like infantrymen, tankers, artillerymen and cooks, you know non-prima donnas, would be allowed into the career field.

It was obvious, to me at least, that some higher-up fucktard in the pentagon had grown tired of our prima donna shenanigans like posting a close up photo of your testicles to face book titled “me and the little guy” constituted “artistic expression” and that the career field needed a few more hardened vets that knew the value of a hard day’s work

All my love of urban legends and conspiracy theories went out the window.

A little background for four of the eight people reading this may help.

In the U.S. Army’s public affairs career field, the officers generally don’t become public affairs officers until they’re senior captains or junior majors.   Thus when they graduate and become some commander’s public affairs officer, they’re generally two things.   First they are the most junior guy on the commander’s staff rank wise and second they have the least practical experience of any staff member.   This would seem bad but for the fact that they, at this point in their careers, understand a lot about how the Army and commanders staff’s work.   Pair them with a public affairs non-commissioned officer that’s been in the career field for 7 to 10 years, and is ostensibly a master of the nuances of the career field and you should have a great relationship.

In my own experience, paired as a young staff sergeant with a freshly graduated major, it was a good yin to yang.   I knew the basics of a broadcast news and I had mastered (or so I thought) the print side of things.    MAJ Stanford Angion, my PAD commander, understood how a brigade staff worked.

It was hand in prima donna glove love time … cue porn music.

So when I heard that they were going to only allow into the career field enlisted soldiers that were just as new to the career field as the officers, did I?

A: Understand that the military as a whole is a large, complex organization that doesn’t give two shits about my opinion?

B: Concede that the accusation of forces into our military is an ever changing goal line, more so in time of war?

C: Reach back into my bag of “those assholes think we’re prima donna’s and they’re going to fuck us all ‘cause shit should never change and also change is bad!

If you guess c, go have a drink … I’ll wait.

To my own credit I did, before writing this, question my own conclusions.   So, I turned to, among other people, Master Sergeant Mike Lavigne who during that time frame understood the nuances and realities that drove the decision. 

He looked at me like I was dropped a lot as a child (I WAS NOT, I was just shaken a lot, like a martini I hope) when I asked him if what I thought had any basis in reality.  He carefully explained the Army’s total acquisition system where the Army (I basically zoned out during these conversations … for all I know a wizard with a carrot up its butt declared it so) used force projection numbers for future years to arrive at the conclusion that only cross training Soldier’s should be allowed into the Public Affairs field.

To be fair Mike did say, yeah I can see where you might think that.   So there, I’m not a total idiot!

This was meant to be a rant, a snarky rant, not about many of the newly inducted NCOs into the PA career field over the last five years because they are innocent, but about the Army’s badly thought out process of moving the career field in that direction.  But the conversations with people that actually know what the hell they’re talking about kinda, well definitely, took the wind out of those sails. 

Finally I don’t want this to come across as a “if you just entered this career field as a NCO you suck” message.  I don’t.   I can, mentally get to where you are at.   You just left some career field or another where you were top of your game only to land in our personal little viper pit.    Someone might have told you that your news release was the biggest piece of shit they ever read and that you should hang yourself or that your news spot for AFN was so fucking bad you’re now the hand-receipt holder for the bathroom. 

You don’t suck.  Well you do, but we all do … the American Forces Network has a large room filled with broadcasters that they referred to as the shark tank.  Not because they have a love for aggressive fish but because on both the print and the broadcast side of things it’s expected that you’re going to have your products ripped to shreds and that you’ll rip others to shreds.   Fun stuff.

You, I assume picked this career field cause you thought it would be fun and great place to do some creative exploring.   To understand that a sentence isn’t always a cut and dry definition and that access to really good broadcasting equipment is FUCKING awesome gift.   If the story comes back soaked in red pen blood, welcome to the team.   It happens, always.  If your editing on the video is raped by the boss, it will happen again, again and again.  It’s always a team effort you don’t own it and those sharks make it better …

If you joined for the low cut off scores and the promotion rates.  I hope you are beaten to death with hoses while happy cannibals rip your still living flesh from your body.

 

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