Thursday, April 20, 2006

An anniversary

This week marks one year that I've lived here in the wonderland of Southwest Georgia. This may not seem like much to many of you, but throughout my entire life I only average living in one place for three years. So, I've been here one-third the time of my standard hitch at any one place.

I bring this up because it's been a particularly difficult hitch.

Every new place has its challenges. There are new people, new experiences, new environments, new cultures, and sometimes, new languages. Here, I had new place, new people, new home life, and starting a brand new job as a DoD civilian. All those kind of things I would normally take in stride, but in addition to coming into a new job working for a new kind of job environment, but it was a very tense one. Good degrees of incompetence with a healthy dose of micromanagement and a dash of politics made for a difficult office in which to work.

There's usually a cycle to the life of most military members. And, with some exceptions unique to each person, it usually fits a pattern similar to this: 1. Unless you are sent to the "Home of the Suck" (Tule, Greenland, for the Air Force; Camp Red Cloud, South Korea, for the Army; Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for Marines; many places at sea for the Navy; and there are some other examples) you arrive at your home station thinking great things are going to happen; 2. Great things may very well happen, or not, but at some point in time you realize the transitional nature of military life means your contributions don't mean much; 3. If you haven't all ready done so, you begin to get antsy about getting out of the assingment and brainwash yourself into thinking that any place is better than where you are at; 4. You begin looking at your assignments -- seeing if there's a slot you could get assigned to, or, at least, if there is some school or deployment you can go to; 5. You get orders and begin and think that your next assignment will be the best ... 6. Rinse, repeat.

The old saying maintains its truth: The best assignment is the place you just left or the place you're about to go to.

Anyway, you understand how I think about things when I move somewhere. So, I'll tell you that, primarily due to the office environment here, I went from step 1 to 3/4 in about three weeks. Things are different as a civilian. While a military member has a minimum amount of time he has to spend at a duty station, a civilian has no such requirements (unless you're brand new to the system, like me, then you have to get at least a year in). I began looking around seeing what kind of jobs are out there just to see.

Now that I'm at my one-third mark, I'm having a hard time not applying for these jobs. Honestly, I doubt I'd take any of them, but I think I'd like the idea of knowing that someone else would hire me. That would be, perhaps, psychologically gratifying.

On the other hand, I'm in a position to finish my bachelor's and get my master's degree in a little under two years. And this is really the only place I can do that. So, I'm here at least two more years, which would stick with my average. But, man, it's hard sometimes. Really hard.

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