Being a Professional

I mentioned that I’m outside the wire again, running loose and causing general mayhem outside of the Kansas state borders. I know, hide the horses and tie down the women. Or something like that. Suffice it to say that this trip is now officially half-consummated.

I’ve been largely vague about exactly what the fuck kind of value I provide the Army via the sweat of my brow (or other body parts). I’ve done that intentionally, sort of like I’ve also not listed my credit card numbers, home address and telephone, and my Social Security number. Mainly, however, I just didn’t bother because it’s what I do all day every day and I like to stop thinking about it for at least an hour or so a day. That, and at times what I do defies explanation without the experiential context of twenty years of Army experience. However, I was cornered over dinner last night explaining what I was here to do and it occurred to me that it sounded awfully fucked up.

Breaking tradition here, I’ll mention that my travels have dragged me to the Pentagon for only the second time in twenty years. I know, you all probably figured I was a key figure in making the biggest chunk of our land forces go from hour to hour. Happily, this is not the case. The Pentagon is someplace I’ve assiduously avoided all these years and for good reason. This second visit merely confirms my beliefs that I have been well-guided by my inner dickhead.

Fate, or whatever Murphy-esque force of nature of course ensured that I’d have to visit eventually. So there I was yesterday wandering through the largest office building in the Western Hemisphere, damn near lost. In reality, it is the largest day care center in the entire world. My purpose was to sit and justify spending money. In true military fashion, there is a formal process to this, and it involves a lot of slides, playing “gotcha,” nodding while looking intensely sincere and other procedural buggery.

Basically, every other year the Army goes before Congress and begs for money. Some of that money buys tanks, some of it replaces copy machine toner cartridges, some buys ammunition, and most of it goes to pay the salary of the million-odd armed, trained and disgruntled employees that work for it. Wicked smart move, that one. Anyway, in order to beg for money, you have to assemble something resembling a realistic estimate of what you need. To do that, in my current part of the Army, you have to generate lots of paper that shows what you’re about to do, how much it costs, and most importantly, what the fuck will fly apart at the seams if no ching is forthcoming.

I’m not going to pretend to know shit about how Army money works, because what I do know is that when I pay my taxes in 2010, some of that money gets handed back to me in 2011 in my paycheck. Somehow this taints my ability to comprehend the bass-ackward Army budget process. What I am good at doing is selling you a one-way ticket to hell and making you really look forward to the trip. It’s an acquired skill. At the end of the day I emerged successful and prevented the budgetary axe from falling on one of the programs I help manage.

Though I’m told I did a good job, I can’t help but feel like I’ve been standing on a street corner all day. In fact, my feet actually hurt.

32 Responses to “Being a Professional”

  1. So are you the guy who decides the fabric pattern/print for the uniforms? They should make a reality show, ala Project Runway, about the Army’s fashion industry. You could be Tim Gunn.

  2. Well, pat yourself on the back and have a safe trip back from the Land of Oz.

  3. Nice! ….. although I had you pegged as sitting on a tank brinking beer all day and waiting for the next call .

  4. Ahh… the pentagon.. I went there once on a class trip and got a picture taken with a very hot soldier who I made out with later….
    On another note, I refuse to give you any more money so you can play around with grenades. 😉

  5. Ahhh, the old three-card monte which accompanies any budget justification discussion!

  6. John Erickson Says:

    I greatly admire any service person who has faced enemy troops. I respect the4 HECK out of any service member who has survived the Pentagon!
    Bravo Zulu, soldier. Now git yer arse back here, safe and sound, ya hear me?!? 😀

  7. A clue: I know what you are talking about, just not in the Army, and not IN an armed force. Clusterfucks are everywhere, and what makes sense in a vacuum makes no sense at the 30,000 foot level.

    The Pentagon is not only at the 30,000 foot level, it has ivory towers on top of that.

  8. savorthefolly Says:

    Did you get a chance to trip any important people while you were there?

  9. I was in Costco tonight and saw a female member of the armed forces. The first thought that popped into my head was ‘garanamals’. I’m now officially brainwashed…

  10. whiteladyinthehood Says:

    assiduously…wow…I learn something new every time I visit here…

  11. Come back to Kansas. Things make more sense here.

  12. What I am good at doing is selling you a one-way ticket to hell and making you really look forward to the trip.

    Ah … you must have some Irish in you! We call that Irish Diplomacy … and it is an art. Sadly, one I don’t possess. So I just tell ’em straight out. 🙂

    Safe travels home!

  13. Well…after standing on the proverbial “street corner” all day, at least it was just your feet that were hurting…

  14. Shimoniac Says:

    Ah.. the Pentagon. As Colonel Potter said on M*A*S*H, that strange building in Washington with “four walls and a spare”. Or something like that. That image has stuck withj over the years.

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