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LONG rant....
Old 09-15-2008, 11:32 PM   #1
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LONG rant....

Waiting for my OIC (officer in charge), but figured I needed to let out some steam...

I'm deployed working in a shop that is 3 men deep. We don't ever see each other because we all work different shifts. I'm the lowest ranking person (E-3), and the highest ranking person is an E-6.

The E-6 is the biggest pile of $h!t I have ever met. When I first got here I didn't agree with one of the processes that they were doing because it wasn't efficient, and contributed absolutely nothing to the overall job. I was informed that we didn't have an NCOIC (NCO in charge) so I went to my OIC with the question. He agreed with me and promptly said don't do it anymore.

Well I stopped and the next day the E-6 is sitting in my chair waiting for me. The first thing I ask is "Sergeant X, do you think the breif is even necessary?" I was promptly reminded that I didn't give him the proper respect and I don't address someone of higher rank in that way. I proceeded to close the door behind me and give him the blank stare wondering what this idiot was going to say next.

He states that he gave me an order to continue with the breif until he felt like they didn't need to be given anymore. That was the first I heard of him being in charge, but apparently he thought he was. After he stopped talking I asked "Sergeant X, are you done?". Once he acknowledged I turned my back to him and opened the door.

This was during my first week out here.

The E-6 leaves in a few days, and I had already told my OIC what happened. He did talk to the E-6 and apparently the story changed (go figure). I do my job, and my OIC knows this. I was told what happend, and was advised to just let it go.

Yesterday I sent out an email to the other airman stateside asking them what I needed to do to unload the trash building up in the back. E-6 decided to flex his stripes again this time via email and asked if I even bothered to look into the procedure binder to see how to do it. I would have assumed the man that has been here the longest (the E-6) would have told me there that a procedure guide existed. It would have also been nice to know that the single shelf that holds the books doesn't really have ALL of the books. The one I needed to read was hidden under a desk.

In the email he states that I did a good job showing initiative when it came to trying to unload the trash. What I should have done was read the procedure book instead of asking airman stateside what to do. What I did showed the stateside airman that we don't know how to read.

WHAT GIVES? I am doing what I think is right, and if I don't know I ask questions. I'd rather ask and tell someone I'm ignorant than attempt to be Tim 'the Toolman' Taylor (fix something when you don't really know what you are doing).

I've already forwarded the email to my OIC, and I've already asked the stateside airman more questions on the procedures in the book. I'm at a point where I don't even care about this idiot anymore. By the way I love Tooltime
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Old 09-15-2008, 11:51 PM   #2
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I can see you are upset about this guy, but hard to give much constructive advice. What I might suggest however, is that you are going to have to deal with idiots like this (and worse) for the rest of your Air Force career and for any career you have outside the Air Force as well. So you might as well try to figure out how to work effectively, work around, appease, establish boundaries, work independently or whatever else will work to be able to do your job under these kinds of adverse conditions (idiots in the workplace). It may not take much to either get him on your side or at least reach some kind of mutual non-aggression pact. If he's as bad as he sounds, its unlikely many have tried to work things out with him, so maybe you can make him an ally or at least a non-enemy. If not, maybe you'll learn something that will help you the next time you find an idiot in your workspace (and it likely won't be long).
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Old 09-16-2008, 01:09 AM   #3
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Great thing about the military. Go up in rank and you can be like that guy
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Old 09-16-2008, 08:04 AM   #4
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I used to be a Navy wife. My ex told me that all that was really required was to show up on time and in uniform, and to not make waves.

It doesn't really matter if the guy is a jerk. What's he going to do - - fire you? I'd advise to just stay out of his way, don't try to improve anything around there unless told to do so (since he seems to like the status quo), and don't let it bug you.

Growing older's post (above) is right. In civilian life you will encounter similar jerks. The only difference is that this guy can't fire you, and you can't quit.
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Old 09-16-2008, 03:21 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Keyboard Ninja View Post
When I first got here I didn't agree with one of the processes that they were doing because it wasn't efficient, and contributed absolutely nothing to the overall job. I was informed that we didn't have an NCOIC (NCO in charge) so I went to my OIC with the question. He agreed with me and promptly said don't do it anymore.
Posts like this give us retired guys great comfort that nothing in the military ever really changes.

I can't defend the E-6's behavior (and I can't defend the OIC's behavior either) but I can offer one explanation for their thinking.

Procedures & processes are obsolete the day after they're created, but their creators had good reasons at the time. Those reasons are usually quickly lost or forgotten in the military's practice of rotating 30% of the staff every year and deploying a new team every 12-18 months. ("Institutional memory? What's that?") Unfortunately it's hard for the new guys to appreciate the reasoning or the effort behind the "old" system when they're still doing something that's lost its relevance. Understandable.

In the opinion of the E-6, you should've discussed the problem with your co-workers and him before going to the OIC. Yeah, everyone's hard to reach on different shifts and there's not necessarily an NCOIC, but there is a team with a more senior guy and everyone likes to have a chance to contribute their opinion. Safety issues notwithstanding, it wouldn't imperil democracy if it took another week or two of continuing a crappy practice while a new practice was discussed.

Then, in the opinion of the E-6, he could've discussed the proposed policy with the OIC (and perhaps with any other nearby senior NCOs). Credit may have been given where due (or maybe not) and the policy would have been appropriately changed (or maybe not). Best of all, knee-jerk reactions and unintended consequences would've been avoided.

The OIC could've said "Great idea, Airman Ninja, but what does the E-6 think? Why don't you guys discuss what you want to do and have him come talk it over with me when you're ready." Instead an OIC knee was also jerked, which is usually not appreciated by E-6s or anyone else.

As for e-mailing your stateside counterparts, the E-6 is afraid that his stateside counterparts are going to tease him for letting "his" troops display their ignorance by asking stateside advice when the answers were right under their noses. Good thing that E-6 is rotating soon-- your additional actions have pretty much burned any bridges that you could've used to talk it over and improve your teamwork & cooperation. He's also going to give his relief quite a turnover about you. And he's going to talk about you for months to come with all the other E-6s in your community... hope it's not one of those small ingrown communities where everyone gets into each other's business and blows things way out of proportion before the next promotion cycle.

It's not always about being smart or efficient or quickly getting things fixed. It's also about how well you can work with a team (and later lead that team) to accomplish the same result. Not everyone way out in front of the crowd is necessarily a leader. The E-6 may still be a crappy performer but he may occasionally still be correct.

When I was about to get my ensign's bars, we heard a talk given by Captain (later Admiral) Jack Darby. He said we knew all about the chain of command on the way up, but he wanted to discuss how it worked on the way down. He gave us the situation where we, young "Ensign Pissants", were made aware by one of our E-5 troops that they really wanted to go to welding school. Being smart young ensigns with plenty of initiative & authority, we promptly went out and arranged it. Just as we were taught, we were taking good care of our troops!

The next morning at quarters formation, our division's E-6 supervisor came up to us and said "Sir, can I talk to you for a minute in your stateroom about Petty Officer Schmuckatelli's welding school?" Cap'n Jack next said "Lemme give you guys a small communications hint. When an E-6 respectfully addresses you as 'Sir' in that tone of voice, it means that you're about to respectfully get your ass chewed out." He then went on to point out all the reasons that the E-6 may not yet have been ready to send Schmuckatelli to welding school, but that Ensign Pissant neatly cut his E-6 out of the chain of command and cancelled his opportunity to have a say in the decision.

Your experiences with that E-6 will provide valuable discussion fodder for your interviews as you apply for OTS...
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Old 09-16-2008, 03:46 PM   #6
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Man, am I dumb.........I thought the rant was about an error on the 3rd baseman in last night's baseball game...........

E6
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Old 09-16-2008, 04:07 PM   #7
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Man, am I dumb.........I thought the rant was about an error on the 3rd baseman in last night's baseball game...........

E6
It was.
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Old 09-16-2008, 04:29 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by FinanceDude View Post
Man, am I dumb.........I thought the rant was about an error on the 3rd baseman in last night's baseball game...........

E6
Especially so, given that '6' is the shortstop, not the third baseman.
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Old 09-16-2008, 04:56 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Keyboard Ninja View Post
He states that he gave me an order to continue with the breif until he felt like they didn't need to be given anymore. That was the first I heard of him being in charge, but apparently he thought he was.
I know the Air Force is a little different in some aspects, and I assume that this must be one of those service-centric things. In the Marine Corps the culture is that the senior enlisted doesn't wait for anyone to appoint him or her to be in charge, he or she just takes charge and carries out the mission.

But whatever the culture may be, I really like this advice:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nords View Post
When an E-6 respectfully addresses you as 'Sir' in that tone of voice, it means that you're about to respectfully get your ass chewed out." He then went on to point out all the reasons that the E-6 may not yet have been ready to send Schmuckatelli to welding school, but that Ensign Pissant neatly cut his E-6 out of the chain of command and cancelled his opportunity to have a say in the decision.
Even in the para-military culture of police work, the junior bosses know that what they are responsible for and don't appreciate the bosses screwing with it. Sure, they're in charge, but they have to respect their direct reports and their authority. After I first got promoted my first boss had a saying that I learned to take to heart. "Sergeant, that does not sound like a Lieutenant type of problem to me. Go handle it."

After I had been a sergeant for years I found myself working for a lieutenant who didn't respect the boundaries. My troops were running to him with issues that they already knew how I would deal with. They figured they could con my boss into making a decision that was more to their liking. When I caught them, my message to the troops was, '"You work for me, and I work for him. You can say good morning, talk about the weather or whatever, but work stuff he gets from me. If you jump the line again you will be in a world of hurt." The boss got a gentler message the first time, but when I caught him doing it again I came in and threw my badge on his desk.
Quote:
"What's that for?"

"It's a sergeant's badge. If you want to run my group you will need that, because that is the sergeant's job. Your badge says lieutenant, and that means you don't run the group. You run the sergeants. If you want to do my job you need the appropriate rank and authority."
He got the message.
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Old 09-16-2008, 07:02 PM   #10
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In the Marine Corps the culture is that the senior enlisted doesn't wait for anyone to appoint him or her to be in charge, he or she just takes charge and carries out the mission.
In the Marines the discussion would have never occurred in the first place.

And the Marine corporal may or may not have survived the experience, while the Marine 2LT definitely would not have survived.

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Old 09-16-2008, 08:15 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nords View Post
Posts like this give us retired guys great comfort that nothing in the military ever really changes.

I can't defend the E-6's behavior (and I can't defend the OIC's behavior either) but I can offer one explanation for their thinking.

Procedures & processes are obsolete the day after they're created, but their creators had good reasons at the time. Those reasons are usually quickly lost or forgotten in the military's practice of rotating 30% of the staff every year and deploying a new team every 12-18 months. ("Institutional memory? What's that?") Unfortunately it's hard for the new guys to appreciate the reasoning or the effort behind the "old" system when they're still doing something that's lost its relevance. Understandable.

In the opinion of the E-6, you should've discussed the problem with your co-workers and him before going to the OIC. Yeah, everyone's hard to reach on different shifts and there's not necessarily an NCOIC, but there is a team with a more senior guy and everyone likes to have a chance to contribute their opinion. Safety issues notwithstanding, it wouldn't imperil democracy if it took another week or two of continuing a crappy practice while a new practice was discussed.

Then, in the opinion of the E-6, he could've discussed the proposed policy with the OIC (and perhaps with any other nearby senior NCOs). Credit may have been given where due (or maybe not) and the policy would have been appropriately changed (or maybe not). Best of all, knee-jerk reactions and unintended consequences would've been avoided.

The OIC could've said "Great idea, Airman Ninja, but what does the E-6 think? Why don't you guys discuss what you want to do and have him come talk it over with me when you're ready." Instead an OIC knee was also jerked, which is usually not appreciated by E-6s or anyone else.

As for e-mailing your stateside counterparts, the E-6 is afraid that his stateside counterparts are going to tease him for letting "his" troops display their ignorance by asking stateside advice when the answers were right under their noses. Good thing that E-6 is rotating soon-- your additional actions have pretty much burned any bridges that you could've used to talk it over and improve your teamwork & cooperation. He's also going to give his relief quite a turnover about you. And he's going to talk about you for months to come with all the other E-6s in your community... hope it's not one of those small ingrown communities where everyone gets into each other's business and blows things way out of proportion before the next promotion cycle.

It's not always about being smart or efficient or quickly getting things fixed. It's also about how well you can work with a team (and later lead that team) to accomplish the same result. Not everyone way out in front of the crowd is necessarily a leader. The E-6 may still be a crappy performer but he may occasionally still be correct.

When I was about to get my ensign's bars, we heard a talk given by Captain (later Admiral) Jack Darby. He said we knew all about the chain of command on the way up, but he wanted to discuss how it worked on the way down. He gave us the situation where we, young "Ensign Pissants", were made aware by one of our E-5 troops that they really wanted to go to welding school. Being smart young ensigns with plenty of initiative & authority, we promptly went out and arranged it. Just as we were taught, we were taking good care of our troops!

The next morning at quarters formation, our division's E-6 supervisor came up to us and said "Sir, can I talk to you for a minute in your stateroom about Petty Officer Schmuckatelli's welding school?" Cap'n Jack next said "Lemme give you guys a small communications hint. When an E-6 respectfully addresses you as 'Sir' in that tone of voice, it means that you're about to respectfully get your ass chewed out." He then went on to point out all the reasons that the E-6 may not yet have been ready to send Schmuckatelli to welding school, but that Ensign Pissant neatly cut his E-6 out of the chain of command and cancelled his opportunity to have a say in the decision.

Your experiences with that E-6 will provide valuable discussion fodder for your interviews as you apply for OTS...
Very well said Nords. Only thing I would add is that regardless of whether he personally likes or even respects said E-6, the young E-3 needs to show due respect and not turn his back on him and other similar disrespectful behavior.

Keyboard Ninja: If you don't want to respect the chain of command and your duly appointed superiors, you are free to leave the service at the end of your enlistment. And in the mean time you're not going to do yourself any favors with this type of behavior. Your remaining time won't go so well. Judging from your post you are exuding bad attitude. Take Nords' advice to heart. It's very good.

Gardnr, USAF, Lt Col (Ret)
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Old 09-16-2008, 08:36 PM   #12
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Keyboard Ninja: I can't add anything to what Nords and Gardnr said. It is great advice and you should take it. I can only share a mental trick that I learned in the Navy. When faced with a jerk of superior rank, I would think to myself "I only have to live with LT/CDR/CAPT 'so-and-so' for the next 'x' days/weeks/months. He's got to live with being a jerk for the rest of his life." I would then imagine all the problems he was going to face when he got out of the Navy and had to face people who were allowed to call him on his bs. Silly I know, but it often saved my sanity.
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Old 09-17-2008, 02:10 AM   #13
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Keyboard Ninja: If you don't want to respect the chain of command and your duly appointed superiors, you are free to leave the service at the end of your enlistment. And in the mean time you're not going to do yourself any favors with this type of behavior. Your remaining time won't go so well. Judging from your post you are exuding bad attitude. Take Nords' advice to heart. It's very good.

Gardnr, USAF, Lt Col (Ret)
Lt Col,
Actually I do respect the chain of command. Up until this point I never had a reason question myself because I always stayed invisible. What I now know is that there was plenty of fault on my end which I failed to realize at the time of my actions. What I did was basically go around the E6 straight to my OIC because this particular E6 was not in my explicit chain of command. It is like when a child would go around one parent's objection to ask another parent for permission. I can see what I did wrong, and I'll take full blame for that. I assume this is just part of the learning curve I'll have to adjust to.

Nords,
Great advice as always. My question is that I'm not afraid to admit that I'm wrong and that I need help to understand things at times. If I don't know I ask. With the shifts we have we will rarely ever see each other. The problem I had needed to be fixed at that moment. Would the correct action have been just to wait until I could contact the E6?

Lastly...what is discussion fodder? Never heard of the term, and a quick google search only got me livestock feed.

Thanks as always.
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Old 09-19-2008, 02:38 AM   #14
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When faced with a jerk of superior rank, I would think to myself "I only have to live with LT/CDR/CAPT 'so-and-so' for the next 'x' days/weeks/months. He's got to live with being a jerk for the rest of his life." I would then imagine all the problems he was going to face when he got out of the Navy and had to face people who were allowed to call him on his bs. Silly I know, but it often saved my sanity.
I said that many times about young LT Kneriem we were midshipmen. I used to fantasize about what it'd be like to meet him again when we were both out of the Navy. Much to my surprise, I actually had the pleasure of meeting him again a few months ago at an alumni dinner.

Five minutes with him was long enough to confirm that you're absolutely right. And living well is definitely the best vengeance.

Ken Voorhees also says "Hey." He still looks just like his Lucky Bag picture, too.

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Nords,
Great advice as always. My question is that I'm not afraid to admit that I'm wrong and that I need help to understand things at times. If I don't know I ask. With the shifts we have we will rarely ever see each other. The problem I had needed to be fixed at that moment. Would the correct action have been just to wait until I could contact the E6?
Yep, the defense of democracy would not have collapsed in the time it took to request a response from the E-6. I have always repented in leisure the times that I acted in haste.

Sometimes it helps to say "Yessir, and I'll just let my supervisor know so that he can help me get it done right", which is often replied to with "Eh, no problem, no need to call anyone in, it can wait a day."

Quote:
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Lastly...what is discussion fodder? Never heard of the term, and a quick google search only got me livestock feed.
It's a situation or a story that serves as the basis for a case study-- long discussions that may or may not solve the problem, with plenty of sea air stories. It usually begins with "There I was..." or "Back in the day..."

Speaking of discussion fodder I summarized your original post with my spouse, who has spent some serious time with the Air Force during her climb up the Navy's career ladder. Her comment was "Man, that guy really needs to get himself to officer training school." Consider that your first endorsement!
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Old 09-19-2008, 07:59 AM   #15
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When enlisted personnel came to me with stuff like this, I'd say "What did the First Sergeant say? This sounds like NCO business." The First Sergeant would always take care of it.

If you are an E3, you do what the E6 says, unless its an unlawful order. Get used to doing stupid, pointless things. Welcome to the military!
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