Thursday, October 05, 2006

The Wrath of a Preacher Man

My class appears to be making quite the name for itself so far. On Tuesday, our TAC told us that we were being too loud and starting to draw attention (what the hell did they expect us to do when we had to sit and wait half an hour to do five minutes worth of work? Sit quietly? Of course we are going to talk). Today, we got in trouble for not showing up to class. One of our instructors actually joked about it, and said he'd been on the way to the beach when he got the call that we'd actually shown up.

So how did a class of 46 all manage to miss class? Well, that would be due to one of the many miscommunications that have become the staple of this week. We finally got a schedule yesterday, even though it was only tentative. In fact, we hadn't received one earlier in the week because our TAC didn't want us to freak out and ask a lot of questions when things didn't go according to the master plan. While I noticed the 7 am class on the schedule, when we were told that formation was at 7:35, I simply shrugged it off as yet another change. Well, turns out, it wasn't. I guess one of the problems is that there are two different chain of commands in charge of us: there are the cadre and TACs who are in charge of such things as formations and the more administrative aspect of our stay here, and the instructors who teach class. The company has formations at 0745 which is what our TAC was going by, but she didn't know or ignored the fact that the class was on the schedule.

Now, if I were a teacher, and my entire class didn't show up, then I'd be pissed but I'd also be willing to listen to them before making a judgment. I mean it's one thing if half the class is there and the rest oversleep or something, but if the whole class isn't there, it seems like there might be a good explanation. Our current PSG (despite the fact that we are going to be officers, platoon sergeant is still one of the positions they use to evaluate us so I'm referring to another LT) showed up at 7:05 since he's in leadership, and found a note on the board left to us by our instructor: "Is there any intelligent life in this class? Did you pass 1st grade and reading comprehension?" Yes, perhaps we screwed up (or somebody else screwed us over, it's debatable) but that still doesn't make it necessary to be quite so rude and disrespectful, especially to people he's never even met. Oh, and did I mention that this is our CHAPLAIN? Meaning, a "man of God," in general a person that soldiers should be able to bring their problems to and yet he's the one calling us morons. No wonder I don't do religion. He also gave us a writing assignment - 500 pages on time management and personal responsibility; after all, we should know how to read a schedule. Unfortunately, the only thing I've learned from this course so far is to go with the flow; in other words, to keep my mouth shut and not ask questions because I'm on student status. Our TAC managed to talk him out of the assignment but he finally came in that afternoon to introduce himself and tells us how we had all failed each other. Thank you, sir.

In addition to actual classes, we also were welcomed to the course by two more people. I really liked the 1SG (First Sergeant) despite the fact that he cut into our lunch. He said that he'd learned the best way to react to mistakes is to find a solution and not to yell or call people stupid (something he had done earlier in his career since he is very physically imposing). I wonder if he's told the chaplain his command philosophy yet. Later in the afternoon, a full-bird talked to us, and I learned yet again not to ask questions. He opened up the floor for questions, so I asked him to go about becoming an instructor at TBOLC upon completing my time as PL (I actually like the non-chaplain cadre from the instructors' side of the house - so far). First, he wanted to know what the acronym PL meant because he too wants to be young and hip. I guess I seemed a bit nervous in response because I thought he was joking and somehow implying that it isn't okay to use abbreviations when addressing a colonel because he said he wasn't being facetious. I (and all the other LTs) have always heard the term PL used to refer to platoon leader so I don't know how he could never have heard it but I guess it isn't quite as common as we all thought. As to the answer to my actual question, he said to do my three years at my first duty station as PL and staff, then do the captain's career course, take company command, and finally apply for it after six years in. And yet, our current instructor went straight from PL to TOBC (granted, he was PL for 27 months rather than the usual 12-18) and is currently getting ready to leave for company command. Go figure. I guess it helps to be stationed on Ft. Eustis. (Actually, it would be rather convenient for other reasons as well: since all the OBC instructors are right on base, there is one extra resource that all the rest of us won't have when we get to our units.)

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