Lessons Learned

Lifelong learning…yeah, I suppose it’s a good thing…but it seems that all the knowledge I’m accumulating in KAF is gonna be next to useless in the real world. This sucks because my cranial hard drive reached capacity circa 1985 so anytime I learn the latest badging process or read a new KAF SOP, it overwrites my birthdate, room location or some other important shit. In this post, along with the usual miscellany, I’ll let you in on some of the crap that got stuffed into our heads this week. Things like: I was silly to ever be intimidated by some tailgating jerk in a Honda Civic on the 101.



A Belgian Waffles

Did you know that, in Belgium, it is socially acceptable to very slowly decide whether one indeed wants mixed nuts from the breakfast bar then, having finally made up one’s mind, to meticulously spoon out only those two specific types of nuts you want…one or two at a time…over and fucking over again, while, behind you, a disgruntled Canadian loudly mutters “Oh for fuck’s sake” and a line of increasingly impatient people builds? Neither did I.

Accept No Substitutes

Turkey Sausage. Tastes as good as it looks!

Turkey Sausage. Tastes as good as it looks!

Northline has been out of bacon recently. The pork sausage was a disappointing, yet acceptable substitute but who the hell ever thought turkey sausage was a good idea? Then Northline went on to yet another substitution debacle. It all started a couple of days ago when they had “Spaghetti and Meatballs” on the menu. The “meatballs” were, in fact cubes of stew beef. I’m not sure how they squared that circle. A couple of days later they had “Spaghetti and Meatballs” again…but they were goddamn Chicken Meatballs? What were they thinking? “Hey, let’s make the meatballs out of chicken! And then maybe we can make a cake out of squab!” They were, indeed, fowl.

This Food is Repeating on Me

Now that D and I are eating every second dinner at Lux to avoid the giant Cambridge queues, we picked up on something that had escaped our notice over the last several years. The dinner menu at the Lux is often the exact same menu as the lunch menu at the Northline. This limits the variety of our diets somewhat as we always eat lunch at the Northline. Cornish hens, some other shit that looked gross and tacos were the main choices the other day. Can you DFAC guys at least spread the menus out a bit…like make the Lux dinner the Northline menu from the day before or something?

Where is everyone?

Where is everyone?

Maybe they’re just trucking the leftovers across the airfield. I can’t say I’d blame them given the complete and utter randomness that seems to guide the size of the Northline lunch crowd. How can the number of people vary so drastically every day? Has sequestration resulted in the US military only getting lunch every 2nd day or something? Whatever the reason, it annoys me and somebody oughter do sumpin. We always eat lunch at the same time, yet, while there was a line just outside the door 2 days ago, yesterday, there was no line and literally no one in the main steam line when we arrived.

Chicken Meatballs at my desk. FML.

Chicken Meatballs at my desk. FML.

Today the line up was so huge that we opted to get take out along with all the losers with shitty bosses. We had to hurry back to the office before our food got too hot but I have to agree with D that minimizing our time with the masses of humanity (who we both kinda hate) was rather pleasant. I promised R that next time we ate in the office I’d take the casters off my desk chair and scrape it incessantly across the floor to give her that DFAC ambiance she felt she was missing.

Dessert Storm

Proper ratios

Proper ratios

I totally mastered the dessert line at NL today. As regular readers will know, I kinda have a thing for ratios, particularly when it comes to food. Just the other day, I had  to once again get two pieces of cake to balance out the humungous slab o’ ice cream the guy gave me. It’s been a long slog but I’ve finally managed to get the Northline-Dessert-Serving-Guy to give me just enough ice cream for one piece of cake. Here’s how ya do it: “Hi, just a little, tiny, petite, small bit of ice cream and piece of the cake, please.” As you say this make as many different hand gestures as possible that might indicate small. i.e. thumb and forefinger slightly apart…first using the left hand then the right. Hold your two hands very slightly apart. Contort your body into a half crouch coincident with the hand gestures. Continue to make the gestures and ramble off various words that might mean “a little” as he scoops the ice cream with the giant spoon of his; “just a bit, not too much, a little, un petite peu,…” until you have a nice moderate serving at which point you proclaim “Enough!”. Now, it’s just as important to ensure you don’t get two pieces of cake. “Just one piece of cake, please…no, not two…you have two in the tongs…just one.” “You don’t want two?” “No, just one.”

The Northline-Dessert-Serving-Guy isn’t a big smiler but, unlike many of his peers, he usually makes eye contact; however, our extended interaction and my less than graceful body language formed a bit of a bond between he and I such that I also got a smile and even some small talk without even playing the game. He told me that “that cake is made in DFAC. Not frozen like the others”. I tried not to look too crestfallen. I don’t know what drives him to serve up such big heaps of ice cream and cake but he can get pretty intense about it. R asked him for an apple and he looked her square in the eye and demanded in a voice somewhat louder than necessary “ICE CREAM?” When she demurred, he seemed rather taken aback.

School Days

Higher Learning

Higher Learning

With D back from vacation it was time for him to pay his penance for flouting the law and attend KAF Driving School. The morning of his first day of school I cautioned “Don’t ask any questions. The answers will just piss you off.” “You worried? Don’t be. I just want to get this BULLSHIT over with”, he said. “Just don’t bother to point out the idiocy of the rules or the course. Just think about how much you’re getting paid to sit in a class and zone out for an hour”, I sagely advised.”Look. I get it. I’m a grown up. I’m not gonna say a goddamn word, alright? You happy now?”, he protested. “Yeah, the way you just told me to fuck off without actually using the words has inspired my confidence in your discretion.”

Following the course, D provided a rather animated description of the fun he had.”At first, I felt sorry for the young second lieutenant who had to teach this thing…but I shouldn’t have. He was just so goddamn enthusiastic!” He apparently warmed up the crowd by asking some challenging questions like “A good rule of thumb for following distances is to allow one car length for every 10 miles per hour. If you’re traveling at 30 mph how many car lengths should you leave between you and the car ahead of you?” At first D thought this was a ridiculously simple question but he then noticed that some folks were squinting with perplexed looks on their faces. I’m surprised no smartass pointed out that the max speed on KAF is 25 mph.

Doesn't seem like it.

Doesn’t seem like it.

Another question was “How many seconds must you stop at a stop sign?'” The answers available to choose from on the accompanying slide were a. 5 b. 6 c. 7 and d. All of the Above. The instructor pointed out that the answer actually wasn’t on the slide because it is 4 seconds. Anyway, at this point in D’s story I jumped in with “Hold on there! We all know that the answer should be >0 but when DN got his ticket they told him it was 3 seconds…which is not written anywhere…and now they’ve arbitrarily changed it to 4? I guess when you’re just making up the laws on the spot, they can be whatever you want.” JA interjected with “When I took the course a couple of months ago, they said it was 3 seconds…but also told us that you had to put the vehicle in neutral, apply the parking brake, release the brake then get it in gear before proceeding from the stop sign”.  I was fucking floored by this revelation! Holy shit…as if making up the 3 (or 4) second rule wasn’t enough, they also want you to essentially park the fucking car at the stop sign? Imagine the congestion at the four way stop near the Boardwalk if everyone did this. Wow! I suppose the answers on the slide were just someone’s way of getting prepared for when this arbitrary, made up rule is eventually raised to 7 seconds.
Ahh...a vest that reflects...that's what you meant by reflective vest!

Ahh…a vest that reflects…so that’s what you meant by reflective vest!

More warm up questions ensued like “You can use more than just your sense of sight to drive safely. What are our five senses?” Holy shit”, D thought, “Did he just ask me what the five senses are?” I’m guessing this course doesn’t count for any post-graduate credits. Then the instructor was saying something about reflective vests. Since no one could possibly know what a reflective vest is, he pointed to a young guy of South Asian origin who was wearing one and asked him to stand up. After several requests, it became clear that the poor guy really didn’t understand English very well at all and had no idea the instructor was talking to him. After much gesticulating and repeated requests from the instructor, one of the student’s countrymen said to him in their native tongue what D can only assume, translates to “stand up”. D could tell, by the look of fear on the guy’s face that he had no idea what was going on and why he had been singled out and made to stand up. He looked, apparently, like he thought he was going to be arrested. Poor bugger.

D’s hour long dream of getting the hell out of that class as fast as a DFAC meal exits a colon was thwarted by the totally messed up sign up process. It’s of vital importance that you sign the sheet as having attended lest they make you show up again. The instructions were to sign next to your name on the sheets at the front of the class, several of which were laid out on a table. What the instructor failed to mention was that the sheets didn’t adhere to that old-school alphabetical order nonsense. They were arranged by date of offense. This would have been handy info to know prior to going up and hunting around for one’s name on the dozen or so sheets although I don’t think getting a ticket for doing 18 MPH is such a traumatic or significant life event that one would readily recall the date it occurred. D looked on all of them to no avail and then asked “What if my names not there?” Well, then you sign the secret “blank sheet”, of course. Since many of the names were missing, there was a huge line up for the one blank sheet. Yeah, you wouldn’t want to waste a bunch of paper printing up a bunch of extra blank sheets.

Ok, so I’m really taking the piss out of this course but I get it. It’s got to be aimed at the lowest common denominator (like those people who can’t divide by 10 or know what the five senses are…I guess they exist) and you’re not really supposed to learn anything on it. It’s just intended to be an extra pain in the ass for those who get tickets so they have an additional incentive to obey both the real and made up KAF traffic rules. I know I’ll be stopping my car, engaging the handbrake, going to neutral, and turning off the engine at every stop sign…just to avoid this hour of hell.

A Company Man – Sort Of

Contract Employees Need Not ApplyNow that we’ve all laughed at D’s misfortune…here’s some happier news about the guy…sort of. To set the stage, you need to understand that our entire team here is made up of “Contract Employees”…that is, we’re not the same as the “Permanent Employees” back at head office in that our jobs end when our contracts end. Now, we get really good pay and benefits and our company treats us pretty well overall…however, they have this nasty habit of sending out emails to All Employees which are really just intended for those Permanent bastards. There’s a lot of social activities and entertainment offered at home which we’re not able to attend and, despite many of us being miserable misanthropes, still kind of stings: “Wine and Cheese in the Lobby this Friday”, “Free Passes to the Whatever”, “Massages Available in the Lunchroom”   and shit like that. What rankles more, however, are the emails reminding people to buy their discounted company stock, take advantage of the matching retirement savings funds offered by the company, apply for scholarships for their kid and the like. First time I got one of these (the matching retirement funds one, I believe) I was pretty excited…that’s a lot of coin. I inquired about it and was told something along the lines of “It’s for permanent employees only, you piece of shit contract douchebag” or, at least that’s how I interpreted it. Not surprisingly, we poor cousins of the company were similarly ineligible for much of the other manna from heaven email we heard and continue to hear about . Oh well…I got used to it after a while.
It's been washed.

It’s been washed.

Well, as of August this year, D had 5 years with our company. He received a personal email from HR congratulating him and telling him he could pick any gift from this web-based thingy. He chose a nice golf club but when he tried to use the PIN HR gave him it wouldn’t work and some sort of warning like Intruder Alert – Contract Employee Trying to Access Perks Above His Station In Life or Invalid PIN or whatever. He queried HR and they responded with “I’m sorry, that was a mistake. You’re a worthless piece of contract scum and undeserving of praise or recognition” or somesuch. Luckily, we scum of the earth stick together. The team made up and framed a certificate congratulating D on being “Almost an Employee” for 5 years and presented him with a gold club they had found in a dumpster acquired a few years ago. It was a touching ceremony.
Update: I guess HR felt bad about getting D’s hopes up so they gave him a gift certificate to a restaurant in his home town. That was nice-ish.

Bottom Line

Anyone know where my room is?

I’ve learned,  since I’m at work the entire time I’m here, that my job at mealtimes is to stuff something down my gullet.” – D

4 thoughts on “Lessons Learned

  1. The scary thing is how arbitrary the traffic rules are, especially when enforced by Military Police, from a dozen different countries. On another site I read about a guy that got stopped by Italian MPs (on a different camp) for doing TWO kms over the speed limit ! The horror, the HORROR ! How dare he do 22 in a 20 zone !
    Could be worse though, we could have the local police doing traffic enforcement. Probably get stopped a lot more, but less chance of getting a ticket (better chance of getting hit up for a bribe, or just getting shot though).

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