The Quest for Stripes: Starting Over from the Last Place We Started Over
When we last left off our hero (i.e. me…trust me, I’m awesome!), his quest for promotion to staff sergeant (E6, not like the Air Force, who call their E5s “staff sergeant”…weirdos) was just beginning.
Before going on leave to Michigan for a couple of weeks, I had made every effort to get as much of the leg and paperwork done. Woe to the one who leaves his career in the hands of anyone else! In the Army it is up to everyone to look out for him or herself, as everyone will straight out f*** ya as much as notice you walk in for help.
Anyway, in those final few days, as the first waves of personnel were already leaving for our “block leave” break, I was meeting with my friends from the admin office. Unfortunately, they couldn’t help me since the rear-detachment troops (i.e. those who were hurt or pregnant and didn’t go to war) were still in charge. I would have to meet up with the admin sergeant there.
And I tried for three days to meet up with said sergeant (an E6, actually…confusing, yes, how we call E5, E6, and E7 all “sergeant”…sorry). I would check in the mornings. “Umm, she’s out on errands…better to catch her in the afternoon,” said her supervisor. I would check in the afternoon. “Ummm, she’s still at lunch, maybe try a little earlier.” And, on Friday, my last day of people at their desks before I left the next Monday…I came in just before lunch. “Umm, she’s out on errands, but she should be back soon.”
So I waited until 1300 when I was joined by several people drifting in, all trying to find something out from the same admin sergeant. 1500 came and went and those cats left. Finally, at 1545, she rolls in. I let her know my situation (in under 30 seconds, any longer and you immediately get the “I can’t help you. Go see XXXXX”) and she shook her head and said, “I can’t help you. Go see Staff Sergeant E” (sometimes you get the brush off anyway).
Problem was, Staff Sgt. E is famous for not helping anybody. In fact, today, he apparently JUST picked up promotion paperwork that was supposed to be submitted weeks ago. He said he was “too busy” and now several soldiers who should have been promoted October 1st have to wait longer; to say nothing about his alleged fake-transcript scam. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Back to before Michigan, I left the rear-detachment admin sergeant’s office and called my combat-veteran admin friend anyway, knowing she wasn’t in charge of things, but just for advice.
“Well, let me see what you need updated and I can at least get that in to your records so you’ll be that much more ahead when you get back,” she offered over the phone.
“Wow, thanks! Will I be able to make the deadlines?” I asked.
“For November? Yeah, shouldn’t be a problem. Just pick things up when you get back.”
“Cool, no problem.”
Then came Michigan. W00t.
Then came today.
“I couldn’t update your records, they’ve taken away all my permissions. I can’t access EMILPO,” she explained. Don’t ask about acronyms in the military. We don’t know either.
“Crap, now what?” I asked.
“Well, you’ll have to start by taking your stuff to the PSB and go from there.” Ah, the Personnel Service Battalion, I knew that one. They were closed on Mondays and had “training” on Fridays, essentially giving them a four-day every week. Not bad. Kind of like Congress.
To make it through to them, you had to arrive with every scrap of paperwork you needed put into your records. Remember that packet that was mentioned in the last post? Yeah…all that crap. You go in and they MIGHT see you, or they might make an appointment for you to come back when things are “open.”
“Go right at 0900 so you aren’t there all day,” my boss said. You see, when you make it a point to only see one or two people an hour, people pile up. Once the lines get to a certain length, people get frustrated and leave. That’s the beauty of military shops; if you work really slow, things don’t pile up, they just go away. Nice, eh?
Anyway, all that to say that there has been no progress whatsoever in the Quest for Stripes. I have just a couple of weeks until the board convenes–that is, if it convenes at all. The colonel’s secretary has a guaranteed spot, in fact the brigade admin staff was ordered to make sure his packet was put together for him, but the rest of us might get the shaft if Staff Sgt. E decides he doesn’t feel like doing anything. Not that he’d say that, but he’d find a problem with our packets–which is entirely possible since I might or might not be able to get through to the PSB cats. Then he’ll filibuster until the deadline passes. Sunk.
With my four-year degree, I’ve had enough promotion “points” to make E6 since I joined the service. I’ve just been waiting for the requisite “time in service” months to pass. Now that those have been accomplished, I just have to surmount the huge precipice of human laziness to be awarded something I’m entitled to, based on the Army’s needs, my wants, and my abilities.