Saturday, August 25, 2012

I Just Don't Fit In

The Way I'm Feeling
Well, I'm back at the home office. No more long commute to the banks of the Merrimack River. I can look out the window of my office building and see Narragansett Bay. I now work ten miles from home as opposed to 100. So why do I keep thinking "Be careful what you wish for..."?

Perhaps it's going to take longer than a week to get back into the swing of things. Perhaps it will just take me some time to get used to the "old reality" (of what I used to do) as opposed to the "new reality" of the past two and a half years.

Or maybe, just maybe, I've re-discovered something about myself.

Back in the day, after my first year of college, I went out to seek employment. Found a summer job which, when it was time to go back to school, I decided to keep, rather than go back to school. I was toying with the idea of enlisting at the time. But needed to do some growing up. So I went to join the ranks of the employed.

First job was a handy-man kind of thing. Fairly typical entry level thing with nothing better than a high school diploma hanging on the wall at home.

That lasted about 8 months. My immediate supervisor was, shall we say, not that bright. But hey, we emptied the trash, painted stuff and lifted heavy things. There was no need for my boss to be smarter than a bag of hammers. But the intellectual stimulation of that job was sorely lacking.

So I moved on, to work in a factory. It was a bit of a step up from the handy-man job. But not much.

I worked in the stock room at first. Unloading pallets of small parts and such and stocking large racks of bins  with that stuff. Loads of fun, perhaps the most boring job I've ever had. (At least in the handy-man gig I got to spend a lot of time outdoors.)

From the stock room I moved up to become a machinist. Turns out this, while interesting at first, was even more boring than the stock room. Once you get the machine set up to do its thing, you're just feeding stuff to the machine.

Both I and the company realized that I was not a very good machinist. After that I worked in the receiving department. This was actually interesting work. After the goobers unloaded the truck, we had to inventory the shipments and then route them to the proper department. Downside was that this typically could be completed by lunchtime. The rest of the day we all sort of scattered and tried to look busy.

My innovation in that area was subsequently copied by my colleagues after I'd left the company to join the USAF (so my sources told me). That was to carry a clipboard with official looking paperwork on it. Then I would roam the plant "studying" things. Anything on a rack or in some sort of storage area was fair game. Everyone assumed that I was doing something official.

This activity did have some benefit to the company however. One day while exploring one of our two warehouses, I found an entire rack of stuff similar to stuff we'd received the previous week. So I went to my boss and asked him about the stuff. He said he had no idea why if we had the stuff in the warehouse, we would order more. He said to go see one of the purchasing agents. So I did.

Turns out some knucklehead had sent the stuff I had found to the warehouse the previous month. Had forgotten about it and then when the job needed it, ordered some more. The purchasing agent dude was both ecstatic and furious. Ecstatic that I'd found the stuff and furious at the guy who'd stashed the parts and then forgotten about it. Bottom line was that we were able to send the newly ordered batch back to the shipper and probably saved a few thousand bucks (which was serious money back in the early '70s).

That was all interesting and such, but I did not see myself doing this kind of work until I was old and gray. So into the Air Force I went.

And found my place in life. Order and discipline. Immediately knowing who you were dealing with by the markings on the uniforms we all wore. Very little ambiguity in my line of work there. I was given things to do and resources to accomplish those taskings. I fit right in.

Then eventually it was time to retire and (as a buddy of put it) "get a real job". Which I did.

The civilian world does not suit me very well. There isn't much of a clear hierarchy, at least not in my company. Here we use a matrix management system. Basically means you have multiple people in charge of various things regarding a project but no one who will actually take responsibility for getting things done.

If, heaven forbid, something goes wrong, there is a lot of finger pointing and hand waving over who should have taken care of it. Everyone is in charge, no one is willing to make an actual decision. Everything carries on according to "the process". I rather imagine the old Soviet Union being like this. Oh and one other thing, "ass kissing" or "drinking the Koolaid" is a prized skill in my company. Oh, and being diverse. Especially being diverse. I'll just say that and leave it alone.

So I've come to realize that I just don't fit in this civilian world. It's one of the things which drove me to enlist and leave all that crap behind. Should have known that I would have to come back to it at some point in time.

I need to win the lottery and retire. I am really tired of being a civilian.


  1. I felt like this every once in a while, Sarge... when things were a lil low and slow. But the feeling passed in due time and stuff got interesting again. Hang in there, things are sure to get better.

    1. Thanks Buck. I'm hoping that this too shall pass. Perhaps it's just the old war horse in me is tired of being hitched to a plow and sometimes I can hear the bugle in the distance, calling me to arms.


  2. Even someone like me, who has always been nothing but a civilian - I want to cash it all in and move to a tiny island in the middle of nowhere. If misery loves company Sarge - welcome to the civilian world. :-)

  3. Misery does indeed love company!

  4. Just getting caught up on your blog, been week or more, read this just after seeing a spoof on current Pres. being 'schooled' by Pres. Reagan...maybe you can get a laugh, but the truth is we are so close to socialism we can taste it, but we're in denial, like the sheep in your previous blog......

    1. I hear ya Greg. We CAN taste it, and it's a most foul taste indeed!


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