Meeting Of The Mindless
After I started this blog I was pretty surprised to find out that not a lot of other military folks blog. A lot of military spouses do, but not the folks wearing the Garanimals outfits with weapons. As a result, I’ve fielded questions several times about exactly what I do in the Army. This is surprisingly difficult to answer, really, because I have to describe something using words that mainly don’t exist outside of the Army for a job performed in the Army. Sort of like asking a space alien what it’s like to be a space alien.
The good news here is that I’m not attempting to answer that question here today. What I will say about my current position is that I spend way too much time in meetings. I hate meetings. You’ve already read about my intense revulsion and hatred of Power Point, so it should come as no epic surprise that I equally despise meetings. Meetings often have Power Point, which only makes the pain climb more exponentially. I also include conferences, tele-conferences, conventions, and other silliness in the same category of hatred as meetings.
At my level of seniority and rank, I come out at the upper-middle management tier equivalent for you all who sport button-downs and neckties or snappy business suits. Or skirts. This means that I largely get paid to think and communicate. In some ways this is just awesome because being paid to have opinions and talk is a lot like getting paid to… blog. However, one painful feature of any hierarchical organization – military or corporate – is the necessity to get together and talk. I do this more than I need to.
There is an old joke in the Army. When you get promoted to Major, they take your mouth away. Then when you get promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, they also take your brain away. Finally, when you make full Colonel, they give you your mouth back. Sadly this joke contains a lot more truth than it ought to. My boss is thankfully an exception (that’s not ass-covering there) but I have to interact with all manner of folks every day that probably fit exactly within this joke’s model.
I like to at least think that I don’t fall into that category, though opinion may vary on this. The old saying about keeping your mouth shut and letting people wonder about your retardedness versus opening it and confirming it is something I have tried to keep in mind, so sitting around air-drying my soup cooler isn’t anything I prefer to engage in. Because of this, sitting in a room full of people who prefer dry teeth and confirmed fuckwithood is the equivalent to wiping my ass with steel wool.
We are all products of our experience, I have long thought, and clearly I worked for some folks early on who took the same dim view of meetings. There is always work to be done, particularly in the Army. The kind of work you can ignore as long as you like, but it sits there waiting for you like a turd in the grass. To extend that analogy, it does little good to sit in the house talking about scooping up the dogshit in the yard when just going and doing it is more effective. Especially knowing that the dog doesn’t attend meetings and is free to keep piling it on out there for your poopscooping pleasure.
Some things are good to talk about, without question. If you’re going to head over to Terry Taliban’s house and drop in for a say-hey and change his mind (with a 7.62mm), it’s a good thing to make sure you’re all on the same sheet of music before you knock on the door. The painful meetings, the ones that leave me wishing for pliers to yank out my fingernails, or contemplating jamming my pen into my eye socket, are not this type. Interestingly, they happen far outside of danger, and are really only mental masturbation sessions designed to give one or a few people the warm, happy feeling that they’re doing something.
Someone let me know when the meeting kicks off. I have to go find my leg holster.