Monday, April 7, 2014

Civil(ian) Wars

An Australian (RAAF) F-111 that only appears to be zorching along just fine.

If you follow Sarge regularly, you've probably read some of my forays into pithy politically charged part-time blogging.  It's pretty obvious what I used to do, but it's a little less clear how I spend my time now.  I've actually made no secret of it, in fact in my first guest-post I stated it up front- I'm a Dept. of the Navy employee now, a Mine Warfare Analyst.

Aviation related posts tend to be the norm around here though, and stuff about mines and mine sweeping can be a bit dry.  That job isn't nearly as exciting as my first career, but I know it's important, it's good work if you can get it, and most days I'm excited to go to work and usually in a good mood when I get home.  This didn't happen today.

Some days it like this- a little mistake that can be easily fixed- just push the plane back, straighten it out, and get it back to work.  Everybody makes mistakes, no big deal.

Everybody pitches in to fix it, help a co-worker out, make it all better.  That's what a team does.  This isn't what happened today either.

However, on other days, far less often of course, it might feel like this:

B-29 after shedding a prop- that's gonna leave a mark!
Much bigger mistake- the prop departs and goes through the fuselage, nearly decapitating one of the crewmen, who walks away unscathed.  No, nobody even almost gets hurt in my civil service world, outside of a paper-cut, or burning their tongue on hot coffee, but mistakes at work do happen that can take some effort to correct or eventually forget.  Nope, this didn't happen today at work either.

The caption on the intro photo was intentionally vague.  It looks like a $hi# hawt low transition, but it's not. The story behind it is that the nugget pilot had a failure that prevented the gear from coming down.  So he was practicing his approach- notice the flaps and slats are down, and the horizontal stab and canards deflected, before coming around again with his tailhook down making a successful landing.

This is sort of what happened today- everything is going fine, but then, just as the day is finishing up, a big problem happens.

Somebody else's mistake can just ruin a good day.
It was more like this- One guy is sitting fat dumb and happy in his plane when the other guy comes up and knocks him for a loop.

We have a mix of civilian and military at work, most of the civilians are retired military so we all know how the command operates, how the Navy operates, and what it takes to get the job done.  Most of us are willing to do that too, whatever it takes to get the job done.  Sometimes the people hired though, aren't working at the same level as they were used to in the service.  In today's instance, I'm working with a very senior retired guy, who needs to operate at the technical level his job requires, but he wants to be the guy two levels above that.  I'm not sure why a senior guy would want a more-junior position, nor why the Navy would hire such a senior guy to fill that position, but that's not for me to understand.  His job is to give me all the technical information so I can complete the paperwork and submit it for approval and funding.  I've been holding the paperwork, checking with him every couple of days to see how he's coming along.  The last contact was him saying that there's no problem, "Chief Jones has that info."

Meanwhile, I'm at the gym and his boss sends an email to God and country (including my boss), asking why this is taking so long.  He promptly responds that it's all my fault, he gave me what I needed and he has no idea why I'm sitting on it.  Then he leaves for the day.

This is a better depiction of what happened-

He shoves me to the side of the runway and takes off like he's scot-free.  

Now I'm pretty ticked off.  I call down to his office to find out what the hell is going on.  Chief Jones answers and says he was told that I'd be calling to get the info for the paperwork.   The light went on- when I was told that there was no problem and that Chief Jones had the info, he expected me to go find Jones and get the info myself- acting like the O-6 he used to be, not the mid-level civil servant that he is, a job that requires him to learn the technical stuff, and actually speaking to his own subordinate to get the info I need.  Finding Jones to get the technical info is way out of my lane, crossing departmental lines, tasking one of his guys to help me, etc.  Now, a department head thinks I'm a lazy sack, and my boss thinks the same.  I went and spoke to my boss to explain how it really happened and he's completely on my side, but the damage is done.  He says it's not worth flaming the guy via email, not that I would have, and that I don't need to worry about what the other department head thinks...

but I do.  

I don't like getting walked all over.
I'm not sure what I'm going to do tomorrow.  I know what the guy deserves, but I'll probably take some stupid high road, sucking it up, and counting down the days until vacation.  70 days and counting.

Heading to Kauai with the family.  I'd love to take a Pan-Am Clipper, but I'll be flying the friendly skies

 So I've got that to look forward to, and I might run into our humble host at Shakespeare's tomorrow so it should be a much better day.

Update:  Here's the story on the F-111 landing:  The picture isn't a practice approach as I first thought.  The jet has already taken the wire which can be seen if you look close.


  1. Three Flight Decks in my first 14 years...............Independence, Ranger, The Hawk..........................In the fall of 1975 on Independence we rigged the barricade in a record time for Atlantic Fleet. V-1, V-2, V-4 and all available Air Wing Seven personnel...................1 minute and 39 seconds...........................teamwork.

  2. I'm thinking that O-6 type is/was a SWO. Because that sure sounds like the classic "SWO stab." Not that I know anything about that. Heh.

    1. We'll chat over some strengthening beverage. Sorry to blog over your last post, but I needed to vent.

    2. Are you kidding? I love it when you vent.


  3. Next time I'm out there, we need to chat... ;-) And yeah, I 'know' what you're going through...

  4. Forgive me, but stuff like this is EXACTLY why I wanted nothing to do with Civil Service after I retired. Yeah, there are asshats everywhere, including industry, but they seem to be less common in the private sector. That was my experience, anyhoo.

    All will be MUCH better in 70 days. ;-)

  5. It's absolutely no different in Public Education, maybe even a bit more vicious,since the issue is always more petty. So, Brother, I feel your pain!

  6. Tuna/

    You DO realize, of course, that such travails as you are experiencing is why God created Haitian Barbancourt 5-Star "Rhume." Advise immediate consumption of "mass quantatives."

  7. Jameson's and Guinness worked quite well as a substitute.

  8. The important thing to keep in mind is that he isn't an 06 anymore. Nope, he's just a bloke who stabbed you in the back. Make sure you mention that to him when you drop in and tell him how much you appreciated his support. If you don't tell him, how will he know/learn? It's important to correct errors when we find them. Work dodging doesn't sound like a SWO trait to me. We had another name for people that swanned around all day doing nothing and were never around when there was work to be done.


Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)
Can't be nice, go somewhere else...

NOTE: Comments on posts over 5 days old go into moderation, automatically.