I like writing. I don’t like my job; although, I’m still proud of it and want to model a good work ethic. It’s a struggle.
If I write about my job, then maybe I’ll find something to like about it. And maybe I’ll find something to like about it long enough to make it to retirement.
In 2001, before 9/11, I began active duty. I have about one year break in service, which means that I’ll retire in 2022 instead of 2021.
MY DAY JOB
I find it challenging to develop a morning routine given my job. A military exists to win its nation’s wars or to defend it. It follows therefore that its members spend their time either fighting, training or supporting just that.
Since we can’t always foresee the next significant threat, a military must remain at a constant state of readiness to respond when needed. It can’t afford to periodize the way athletes do, peaking performance for a particular event or season. What does this mean for the day-to-day of a typical service member? Uncertainty.
Unpredictability. Not a lot of routine, despite what outsiders may believe. Even the word regimented means organized, controlled, routinized.
Chris Voss, former FBI hostage negotiator and author of Never Split the Difference (2016), said in an interview (or maybe in the book) that the families of the victims of kidnapping suffer post-traumatic stress to about the same degree as the kidnap victims. This happens because of the uncertainty, the relationship with time, and the unknown duration of the ordeal.
In military schools where attrition is the mission (like boot camp), the instructors typically use unknown distance or unknown duration as stressors, all while urging the students to give 100%.
I know that if given the task to sprint a quarter of a mile, I’ll do okay. But what if it’s unknown distance? The task might be 10 miles. Understandably, real-life combat will present us with same situation.
In military schools, we play this game, giving Academy Award-winning displays of effort. We call it sandbagging, or deliberately under-performing while pretending to give 100%.
But I’m getting off topic. I wanted to talk about the inherent uncertainty of working in the military, the degree of its significance, and how to develop a routine anyway all while serving as an active duty member.
Active duty just means that it’s my full-time job. Now, there is no typical day in the military. I believe the external factors that impact a service member’s job experience consist of his unit, his rank, and his job in the unit. I call these external because, given my experience, they usually stand outside of the member’s day-to-day sphere of control.
Duty location? Maybe the prettier the place, the better, but that wouldn’t matter if the member spends all his time at work, never able to enjoy the place.
In fact, it seems that the clearer the member makes it that he wants a certain something in the military, the more likely the military will give him the opposite of that.
So how does one create a routine in an unpredictable environment? If you can assign a time of day to a habit, do so; if not, then just make it a point to do that habit at sometime during the day, every day, in some way. And then, capture it somehow, in some physical way in the world. Write it down.
That’s why I’m writing. My goal, as of yesterday, is to write, read, and exercise in some way, every day. I’m using an app to keep me from breaking the chain.
Is anyone going to read this? Yes. Me. Me at a later date. I placed my family videos on YouTube not for the world (because I’m sure the world isn’t interested), but really just for my family at later dates.
I commissioned out of Officer Candidate School, Fort Benning, Georgia in 2011. Since arriving at my first Army unit in Fort Polk, Louisiana, I’ve filled a position for about six to nine months before watching my unit move me to another position.
Each time, I start from scratch, re-inventing wheels after the last guy, re-inventing more wheels for an incoming boss who shows up with the attitude that the people already there have been doing nothing with their lives but wait for said-boss to appear. A boss who, maybe because of the way I look, feels compelled to issue me advice I didn’t ask for, advice on how to live my life better than I would for myself.
MY SIDE HUSTLE
When I was young, 1980s, I remember learning about a computer language called BASIC from a magazine for kids, Highlights. I copied sample scripts from the magazine into whatever program executed it, to make simple games and other applications.
Big surprise there. Of course I was into computers. What else do nerdy Asian male kids get into?
I never did learn how to program or code. So, instead, I’m using Upwork to work with developers. I closed my job post last night. Tonight, I’ll sift through applications. Next step is to interview.
I deployed to Iraq in 2004 with the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force (or, I MEF). One time, when picking up the mail for my unit, the Marine sergeant (E-5) behind the desk said as I was walking into the building, “Damn it! I need help with this. It’s a computer issue, Microsoft Excel… YOU!!! [Pointing at me.] You know how to fix my problem. Get back here and fix it.”
I was a corporal (E-4). I asked, “How do you know I can help?” I took a look. Turns out, he was right. I knew how to fix it. In school, yes, I was also good at math and I liked playing video games. I still do. I actually don’t mind when my kids ask me to join them in some new Roblox game.