Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Welcome back! I quit.

This is the big week when I tell my company that I will no longer be working for them. There are two things that make this weird for me, 1) the last job I quit was in high school. I just walked in and said, "I'm joining the military, so I'm going to enjoy my last month of freedom. See ya!" and 2) the last job I held I couldn't quit without going to jail or something else unpleasant. Because of that little problem I found myself not really knowing how to go about this; I consulted the internets. I found a jubilee of resignation letter templates that will do so apparently quitting is not as hard as I would have imagined.

Like usual I found the best advice came from our friend, Mike. I've decided to go the route he did and treat my quitting like a break up with less yelling and hopefully they don't throw my stuff on the front lawn because I still have to pay the sugar daddies over in the apartment complex office. However, just like breaking up, I'm finding that there is really no good time.

My boss was on vacation last week and on his way home he ran into some problems which prevented him from coming to work on Monday, one day gone. Then he got home to find someone had pulled a hit and run on his car so he spent Tuesday with that mess, two days gone. Today he's sick or something, three days gone. I hate to dump this on him too so soon after such a bad week, but I'm running out of time to give them proper notice.

Either way, I'll probably wait until Friday because, "
We find it's always better to fire people on a Friday. Studies have statistically shown that there's less chance of an incident if you do it at the end of the week." (+10 if you know the movie)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Tuck and Shave

Of all the postings here it dawned on me that I've never told any humorous military stories, so to fix that I'll share my favorite of all time.

As anyone who has been through boot camp will tell you that we did a lot of stupid things daily that made no sense. One such practice was tucking our shirts into everything. If you're wearing uniform pants, tuck your shirt in. If you're wearing exercise (PT) shorts, tuck your shirt in. If you're wearing a sweat suit, tuck your sweatshirt in. The point: We always had to have our damn shirts tucked in.

The military also has written directives on how to do almost everything. One such directive is the "Marine Corps Grooming Standard" that dictates our hair cut, our weight, our glasses, and how wear our clothes. There is a line that specifically states "
The face will be clean-shaven, except that a mustache may be worn." It's that first part that got me in trouble. We didn't learn verbatim the shaving part, but we did shave everyday so maybe they figured we'd keep up the practice or maybe I was just sick that day.

I have the curse of having a 5 O'clock shadow by noon, because of this, shaving everyday for me is not only a pain in the ass figuratively it's a pain on my face literally. I countered this by not shaving all weekend or on days off so I could give myself a break. This was all well and good if I would have had my own place to live outside the gates, but when you live on base there are countless number of people who are waiting to not only point out your problem but also tell you loudly, it makes for some drama. One such incident occurred when I went shopping with the wife.

It was a typical Saturday morning, I was sitting on the sofa in my boxers drinking coffee watching TV when the wife then says, "I want to go to the mall." So I head to the mall without shaving. It didn't cross my mind until who should come walking the other way but the Sergeant Major who is a career grunt who is going through culture shock by serving in his first Intelligence Battalion in over 20 years. We didn't get along. He worked harder and I worked smarter. The two worlds could not be further opposite.

Upon seeing him I quickly did what any man would do in that situation, I hid in the nearest store in hopes that he wouldn't see me or my "Elvis Beard"(I know Elvis never wore a beard, but to many a Sergeant Major he did and, he was also used to illustrate all contradictions to the grooming standard.). After he passed I went back to my wife who was standing in the center of the mall with a very confused and annoyed look on her face. I thought I was safe; but come Monday it was apparent that I thought wrong.

As I passed his office I hear "Lance Corporal!" I tried the dumb approach and entered his office with a smile (Mistake 1) and said, "Good morning Sergeant Major! What can I do for you?" (Mistake 2) He told me that entrance was disrespectful and he'd address that shortly but first, "Didn't they teach you in boot camp to shave every day? Didn't you're highly motivated, truly dedicated Drill Instructors tell you that a Marine is to be clean shaven daily?" To which my prep school smugness kicked in and I responded with a very dry, "Yes Sergeant Major my DI's did have me shave everyday, but then again, they also had us tuck our t-shirts into our underwear so I just figured it was another cruel joke." As I watched his eyes bulge, his face turn red, his teeth began to grind, and I notice the vein on his forehead begin to swell I knew I was in for a real treat. He proceeded to verbally assault everything about me except my mother.

I expected this reaction, so the yelling didn't really bother me. What I took away from the whole thing, however, was this: The Sergeant Major was not a witty man. If he was he would have told me to pull my pants down to make sure my T-shirt was tucked into my underwear and then yelled at me for that too.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Make 'em an Offer He Can't Refuse

The contract that I work on is up for renewal this year. Because of this many companies, including mine, are submitting bids to the government. A few weeks back Bossman brought in "commitment letters" for us to sign. At first we were a little worried about signing them but after reading them our fears were subsided. The letter simply stated that we would not give our resume to a competing bidder. I could go to another company if I so wished, but I couldn't have that company submit my resume as part of their package for my current job. Clear as mud? Good, let's move on!

I had no problem saying that I wouldn't give my resume to someone else because I honestly had no intention of doing that. Mostly because I know I'll be gone by the end of August anyway, but even if I wasn't I'm fairly content in my current position. I signed the letter and returned it to Bossman with a fake smile.

We had a meeting a few days later where Bosslady (who is higher up the chain) addressed the issue of the commitment letters. Her stance was, "If you're not committed to Company than Company is not committed to you and your resume will not be submitted as part of our package." I don't know what she meant, but I took it as a notice to look for another job if you don't sign these things.

Now we come to yesterday. I arrive to work and before I even sit down I'm told that the commitment letter has to be signed again because there was a rewording. Fine. Bossman brings new letters and they say the same thing except for this little paragraph at the bottom that states, "Upon reward I will be available for immediate start and will remain with the contract for a minimum of six months..." I looked at Bossman and said, "I can't promise you six months. It's nothing personal, but there is no way I can guarantee that." The others looked at me with shock. Eyebrows raised. Mouths dropped open. Car tires screeched in the background. If there was music it would have played "Dun Dun Daaaaaa". I basically gave my notice three weeks earlier than I wanted to.

Now, you're probably thinking, "You're leaving anyway, no big deal that you didn't sign!" And your are correct, however, even if I wasn't leaving I'd have a hard time with these letters. I get emails daily about positions that are opening from other companies as well as my own. If I had signed this and got an offer paying me more money closer to home I would be unable to pursue that job. As a financially strapped single parent my eyes where always open to better opportunities. Since I've decided on going back to school my interest has weened, but prior to that I gave every opening a thorough look. I would be unable to do that if I signed.

Over all I'm not worried about it because my path is set already. I feel bad for those that signed it and will get screwed over by it. I feel even worse for those that drank the Kool-Aide and signed it blindly. After two contracts with the military I am wary of any employment contracts. I'm also new to the civilian world so I'm not sure if this is something I can expect, but it doesn't seem to be common practice. Only time will tell. As for now, I wonder if the next six weeks will bring about any blow back from above.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

What's That Smell?

After I picked up Quentin I was at a light preparing for the Beltway Battle. I had my windows down to enjoy the low humidity when a strange yet familiar smell entered the truck. I looked to my immediate right at the young woman yammering on her cell phone thinking maybe it was her, but she had the windows up. I looked behind me to see Quentin and an empty lane. I then look a lane over to see a gentleman take a drag off a hand rolled cigarette, hold in the smoke, and then release some more of that sweet scent I had just noticed.

I've seen people smoke weed before, but never so brazenly. This guy was in traffic, during rush hour, puffing away without a care in the world. The best part of this whole exchange was that two blocks behind us were about three cops arresting arresting a couple of guys. Maybe he bought the weed from them.