Monday, August 11, 2008

First Job as a Sergeant

On Sunday morning our platoon sergeant said I should go and see the first sergeant after formation--he had a special job for me. From the smirk, I expected something ugly. As it turned out, my first official job as a sergeant was to be in charge of four soldiers directing cars to parking spaces at the ceremony for the new battalion sergeant's major. That made me HMFIC of the parking lot (Head MF In Charge--a very old Army acronym, maybe as old as FUBAR). The ceremony was at 1400 Sunday.

Before going to the motor pool that morning, I got 20 orange traffic cones from supply and marked 20 spaces for the ceremony. Then the first sergeant decided the parking lot "looked ragged" because of a half dozen pallets in a crooked line which had not been picked up by the line companies. So I sent the two biggest guys on the detail to get a pallet jack and straighten up the unclaimed freight. Then we went to the motor pool.

Later in the the morning, my three men and I left the motor pool to go to a briefing for everyone involved in the ceremony. My fourth soldier was getting his wisdom teeth pulled.

As is the Army way, we joined the color guard and the men who were in the parade for each company for a briefing and practice at 1100--we didn't have anything to do, but we were part of the event so we showed up.

At 1230 I made sure each soldier had water and sent them to their parking lot posts. For the next 90 minutes I walked from the parking lot out to the entrances on either side of the building to make jokes with the three soldiers.

Seven cars showed up for the ceremony 90 minutes. After the ceremony started, we picked up the cones, returned them to supply and went back to the motor pool.

In my day job I am supposed to make every moment count. When I was a consultant, I had to account for my time and bill for what I did. The Army works on a completely different system. Four of us waiting 90 minutes to direct seven cars to parking spaces is not the way to make money if you are paying by the hour. But we are paid by the day so as long as we are where we are supposed to be we are doing our jobs--directing (on average) one car every 15 minutes to a parking space.

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