And I was having such a good day today.
It started off with PT, which is boring but not too bad, and I had to go in to work right after that, but I went in happily because I was writing up a letter of appreciation for a troop who was doing such uncommonly good work on duty that it was a crime not to recognize him by giving him a one-day pass. I finished by visiting a few office heads to tie up some loose ends, then set off to pick up B from school. I was already light of heart, but seeing her smiling face somehow lifted me even higher.
After we came home from the commissary, I went straight into the house to answer the ringing telephone and, in an almost magical moment, that is to say a moment afflicted by a curse, my hand paused over the receiver and I said out loud to myself, “Do I really want to answer this?” But, shaking off the fear as irrational and stupid, I picked up the phone and said hello to the NCOIC of Operations, SMSgt Holland, who was looking for SrA Ball’s supervisor. Lucky me. SMSgt Holland had a few curt words to say about SrA Ball’s conduct and then left the matter for me to resolve immediately.
I supervise just three people, which means that I’m supposed to look after them personally and professionally; not just write regular evaluations, but provide them insights to military life that will lead to their appreciation of the Air Force. I’m supposed to ensure the good ones to stick to their standards, and to encourage the not-so-good ones to do better.
I have to encourage SrA Ball. This is challenging in so many ways, first and foremost because she, like many airmen new to military culture, has a tendency toward flippant familiarity bordering on insubordination, which is not a bad thing if it can be controlled and used to foster positive traits such as self-determination.
Communication is also a problem, because it’s nearly always a one-way stream of almost nothing but self-criticism, and wow, the girl can talk. Weapons experts the world over can only dream of delivering the kind of rapid fire SrA Ball routinely uses. I have to forcibly break in to every conversation I have with her to get any kind of message across, and I feel pretty rude about doing it, but unless I do, little communication takes place, if any at all.
Probably the next biggest challenge is representing her to command staff – well, to anybody above me, really. From what I can tell, she’s alienated just about everybody on site with four stripes or more. I don’t know what to do about SrA Ball except just keep listening to her stories, and keep documenting every incident she gets involved in.
[11/20/14: Somehow, I left out the best part of this day, the phone conversation I had with airman Ball immediately after the NCOIC of Ops directed me in no uncertain terms to straighten her shit out. Her infraction this time, as best as I can remember it, was a string of parking tickets she had put off paying for a leetle bit too long.
Ball was attending Airman Leadership School at the time and it must have stressed her out a bit more than usual, although almost everything stressed out airman Ball. She was in class when I called the school, so I left a message and when she called me back she was apoplectic with rage when she found out why I was calling, and I mean she was screaming into the receiver so loudly that she probably didn’t need a telephone to get her message across. If I’d stood at my open front door, I might have heard what she was saying from the other side of the base.
When she was done venting, and it took a while, I directed her to pay the parking tickets, then report to me at work that evening with a copy of the receipt in hand. I tried to keep it brief because I was speaking through clenched teeth and didn’t trust myself to say much else. If I recall correctly, she did manage to take care of the tickets the same day, and I think she even apologized to me later for blowing up on the phone. Oh, the joys of supervising.]