That title should give you some hint of what I will talk about!
So, I’ve been on station for about four days now, and let me tell you, it’s been kind of fun and kind of not. I flew in Tuesday night and was met by my sponsor. (When you are assigned to an overseas base, you are provided with someone from your unit to shlep you around for the first few weeks until you get yourself settled.)
I’ve got a great hotel room with a lovely view of the mountains of which I’ll try to take a photo soon. I’m having a few hardware issues that will hopefully be resolved forthwith (that’s my favorite word at the moment).
Well on Thursday, I attended what is known as Jump Start. It’s an abbreviated (3 hour) version of Right Start which lasts for two days and generally begins every Monday. However, since next Monday is a holiday, it will begin on Tuesday.
Anyway, I showed up bright and early for Jump Start and sat in the second row so I wouldn’t miss anything. The first brief was provided by a guy from the Safety office. He talked about driving in Italy and all the things to do and not do. At the beginning of his brief, he instructed us to hand him a copy of our orders, a short form he’d given us to fill out and the two certificates from the driving tests we were supposed to have taken online prior to arrival. One went over the Air Force Instruction (AFI) for driving in Italy and the other was a road signs test.
And let me tell you, those online tests were no joke! If you miss a question, you have to retake the entire test until you get every single question correct. There are 50 questions on one, and 30 on the other.
So after everyone turns in their paperwork, he tells us that we can pick up our new AFI license from the Pass & Registration office after the class is over.
The second brief was provided by an Italian lady from the housing office. She talked about living on base and then moving into housing off base. She made it clear that not everything she said pertained to me because I was a civilian. But I will talk more about that brief in another post.
That’s the thing about being a civilian that can kind of sour the juice about working for the military (if you let it). They talk a good game about the total force concept–meaning that active duty, reserves, and civilians are all one big happy family of service members (contractors are a whole ‘nother animal). But the reality is that there are many distinctions that are made–and those distinctions sometimes take the form of benefits that active duty service members (called AD from now on) have that civilians don’t.
Prime example is the paint allowance. Apparently, most Italian landlords require new tenants to paint the apartment before they move in. This can cost anywhere from 700 euros up to 2000 or more. The AD are given that money whereas civilians have to pay it out of their own pockets.
And in the States, civilians are not allowed to shop at the commissary or BX. I’m actually designated as emergency-essential, which means that I deploy to our expeditionary Wings. I absolutely believe that our AD should be entitled to every benefit under the sun, but it would be nice not to feel like buck-toothed, cross-eyed, knock-kneed stepchild sometimes.
*Sigh* Back to the story.
After the class I went over to the Pass & Reg office. You have to sign in on a computer and wait until someone calls your name. In about 30 minutes, I was called and went up to the desk to explain I was there to pick up my AFI license. He informed me that they would be ready in the morning. Now, mind you, the Safety guy said to pick them up after class.
But whatever. I end up going back pretty late in the afternoon the next day. Wait 40 minutes, only to be told that I can’t get the AFI license until I have something called an ILS memo–individual logistical support memo from my supervisor. So the Airman hands me a template for the memo, and that’s when I realize it’s not just a memo that I need. There’s a list of about ten things I need in addition to the memo. Things it’s going to take at least a month to get–like a physical address.
And that’s when I kind of lost it. It wasn’t that there was a whole new set of hoops I’d have to jump through, it really was about the fact that there was nothing anywhere online that talked about this ILS. And believe me, I scoured that website at least six times so that I’d know exactly what I needed to do. On top of that, the safety briefer never said a mumbling word about it either. Aggggghhhhh!!
I didn’t yell or throw a fit, but I did ask for the name and number of the supervisor there. And yes, he will be getting a very politely worded email from me.
My thing is, just please post the information somewhere, so people know what they can expect. And make sure the briefers know so they can say something! Is that too much to ask?
Okay, my rant is finished 🙂