All I need to know about life I learned in the Air Force

The Holy Land USA sign and cross in 1960

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For those of you that don’t know (shame on you!), I was in the U.S. Air Force from 1994 to 2002. When I joined the Air Force, I was pretty stupid, naive, inexperienced, or as I like to say.. Neanderthalic (i.e.: Like a caveman). The only place I’d ever known was my hometown of Waterbury, Connecticut.. I’d strayed into New York once or twice, but only to places that were mostly like my hometown.. no eye-opening experiences. During my brief stint (Ha!) in the military, I met a lot of great people and a lot of great assholes, I had a lot of fun at times and I wanted to blow my brains out a others.

Skid Vis: Defined

Yesterday I was trying to figure out why I am like I am.. I tried to pinpoint the experiences that make me think how I think. Not surprisingly, it turns out the Air Force was a major influence on how I live my life. Not surprisingly, I say, because prior to the Air Force I didn’t really have a life.. I was merely an animal trying to survive. I’ve decided to share what I know.. and maybe you can read this and gain all the wondrous insight I possess without joining the military.

Drop it like it’s hot

  • Longer hours at work do not mean more work.
    • I was a Jet Engine Mechanic while in the AF, but I didn’t work with the rest of the mechanics, instead I was one of the elite few who worked at a testing facility. The main mechanics, there were about 100 of them, they would crank out engine after engine and me and my crew, about 5 of us, would make sure the engines didn’t blow up when they hit the sky. For some reason, when the bosses didn’t feel the troops were moving fast enough, they would make us all work 12-hour shifts, 6 days a week. What we all noticed, except for the bosses, was that people actually worked LESS when that happened! Everyone was more tired, crankier, less alert, and totally less productive.
  • Motivation does not require intimidation.
    • So 12-hour shifts, 6 days a week doesn’t work.. what does? Well, one of my bosses had it right on! My normal shift was 6:30am to 3:30pm. My boss, being wise and all-knowing, would simply say, “We have X amount of work to do today.. when it’s done, we can all go home.” .. say what?! You can bet you rump that we all busted tail to get things done.. we were usually done by noon or 1 and off we went! It was a great motivator which I used when I finally became the man.
  • There’s always a loophole.
    • The Air Force is all about rules. They have this books called Technical Orders (TO’s). TO’s tell you how you should do everything! I’m sure they have a TO for butt-wiping. I once read one of my TO’s that said “Step into room and turn on the light”.. seriously? I need light for this? I figured I would just operate heavy machinery in the dark.. dang. It may seem like I’m bashing these TO’s, but I’m not. They saved my ass plenty of times. Often times, the big bosses didn’t like us 5.. we had the “glory job”, we were outside, away from the politics of the main shop, we had cookouts, napped, played football and badmington.. it was Club Med. So, whenever possible, they would try and pull us away from paradise to go join the lemmings in their torture, be it mopping floors or cleaning toilets with toothbrushes. TO’s to the rescue! Whenever I’d get a call to go do some horrible task in the shop, I would say “We’ll be right there, we just need to do an inspection first”.. Then we’d go back to napping or having fun. When challenged on why we never showed up, we merely pointed out the steps in the TO for the inspection.. and, as mentioned, TO’s are insanely verbose.. so.. hehe.. bye bye!
  • It’s easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission.
    • If I haven’t alluded to it yet, usually the main shop bosses were jerks. Some were cool, but mostly they were jerks. Whenever us at Club Med needed anything.. supplies, tools, c-c-cold weather gear (I said we worked outside.. summer’s nice.. winter.. not so much!), anything.. we were denied. If the shop boys didn’t need it, then we didn’t either. Make sense to you? I didn’t think so either. So, since we knew our bosses were pricks, we would go around them to THEIR bosses. They were slightly more sane.. only slightly, but we’d get what we wanted. Our bosses would, of course, get pissy.. we’d say “Sorry, we couldn’t find you” and all would be well again.
  • Don’t become too valuable.
    • I worked at the same base for the whole duration of my time in the AF. That’s almost unheard of! People usually get moved every 2 years.. I spent 8 on ONE BASE! I tried to get out.. I put in requests to go anywhere.. Saudi Arabia, Germany, Tibet.. ANYWHERE! But I kept getting the same song.. “you’re too valuable”. I had personally tested over 250 jet engines.. more than anyone ever did at Club Med.. the next guy on the list had about 86. I got to the point where I could just hear an engine and know something was wrong with it… it was weird.
  • Sometimes what you do, no matter how hard you work, is pointless.
    • One day.. a general was stopping by to visit our base. Whenever Generals stop by, all work stops and it becomes a dog and pony show. The Jet Shop would get scrubbed from top to bottom.. spotless. I don’t know about you, but if I walk into a mechanic’s shop, it better not be so clean I can eat from the floor or I might suspect that they don’t do any work there… but that may just be me. Anyway, this one time, a general was supposed to arrive and enter the building through a certain door, which had a looong hallway leading to the main part of the building. “That hallway has to be spotless, I should be able to use the floor as a mirror”. Those were the orders. I spent 21 hours stripping, waxing, and buffing that flippin hallway until the boss was content.. 21 hours! I was tired, sweaty, nearly dead. I finally got to go home and crash.. the general arrived, and came in through the main entrance.. NOT the magical mirrored hallway. All of my work.. for not.
  • Payback is a female dog.
    • You remember those kids in school that had no friends? The one’s that everyone picked on, even the slow kids? Those guys join the Air Force. In the AF, everyone gains rank.. all you have to do is stick around long enough.. eventually, you’ll be a boss.. it’s like the mob. You know what happens when those kids become bosses? They become pricks. For the first time in their lives they have power, they get revenge for every bully, every “you’re mom dresses you funny” joke they ever had thrown at them. They suck.
  • The only thing to fear, is fear itself.
    • This last one is weird. If you ever visit an Air Force base, you’ll notice that everything is drab and ugly looking. Everyone looks the same, the same uniform, the same short hair, the same homes, etc. There’s a method to the madness. Stay in a base long enough and your expectations of society are reduced. Suddenly, taking a trip to Best Buy, out in the real world, seems too frantic and hectic.. you can’t wait to be back in comfort behind the gates of the base. That’s intentional. You join the AF, you become scared of the Real World, you stick around and be used like the tool you are until it’s time to retire and you’re forced into the real world, and then you die. The longer you stay in, the harder it is to leave.. fear will keep you trapped.

Dang yo, thanks for the 411!

Anytime! I’m here to serve you and service your women. God Speed.

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