I had to take a break from blogging because I felt like things were getting out of control. I don’t want to add fuel to a fire already burning out of control. We’ve gone someplace unfamiliar, and it’s become more than a snarky blog can handle. I feel I must tread very lightly.
For the first few months I felt like this deployment was way better than the last deployment. I cited less drama, more amenities and more freedoms as reasons why this was better. After additional analysis, I have now changed my mind. The drama is far more magnificent on this deployment than it was on the last, and because of that I think this is worse.
The Case of the Missing Refrigerator
I was out one evening, jogging or something. When I returned I was told that Higher was looking for me. I went down to her corner in the barracks but she wasn’t there. I shrugged it off, thinking that if it was that serious she would just come find me.
The next day she did indeed find me. She came to my office and said there would be an all-female meeting in the barracks that night. I asked her why she was looking for me and she said she would talk about it at the meeting. I was annoyed because I prefer to be more direct. If there’s something to be said, just go ahead and say it. Why wait until later? What’s the difference?
When we got together for the meeting, she announced that someone had stolen a refrigerator from an empty cubby. “Whoever took that girl’s refrigerator needs to put it back.” The refrigerator in question belonged to a Soldier who is on assignment in another location. She bought the refrigerator before she left. Since you can’t stuff a fridge in your duffle bag, she left it in her cubby for her usage upon her return.
Apparently, someone had taken it and Higher was demanding that it be returned immediately. Be advised that at the time of this incident there were only five females from our unit present in the barracks. Most of the females had been assigned to other bases. One was at school. Of the five females that remained, every single one of them already had a refrigerator. Apparently, Higher had not applied any logic to her accusation that one of us had taken the fridge. There’s no reason anyone would need two refrigerators, especially since there are hardly any electrical outlets and there’s very little space.
When we all just stared at her with deer-in-the-headlights look, she launched into a tirade worthy for a toddler.
“Who took that refrigerator? Whoever took it is a thief! You need to put that refrigerator back right now!” It went on and on for about five minutes, but we’re still just standing there, looking at her like she’s insane.
Let’s stop for a second. The one thing I despise about the Army is that people get promoted because they just do. You happen to have completed all your schooling. You show up to drill on time. You pass your PT test and all that stuff, and suddenly you are promoted to the next level. It does not matter if you are qualified to lead people or not. The Army is under the impression that anybody can be trained for leadership. I completely disagree. There are some people who are born to lead. There are some people that can indeed learn to lead. And there are some people who just were not destined for leadership at all. They just aren’t.
I feel like Higher is one of these people who is just not a leader. She probably knows her job quite well, but when it comes to managing people it’s a fail. From what I observe, she lacks communication skills, empathy, and connection. The Army feels like if you can do your job and pass a PT test, then you can be a good leader. I just don’t agree with that business model.
Some of us tried to ask questions about the missing refrigerator but Higher just continued to scream. She can’t look any of us in the eye, which doesn’t sit well with me. I don’t like for people to talk to my feet, or the ceiling or the wall behind me. If you’re addressing me, look at me. That’s what I meant by connection. I felt like she was screaming at her kids, but I am not one of her children. No one could get a straight answer from her.
When I suggested the fridge might have been taken by one of the females from the other unit, Higher became almost ballistic. Seriously, I thought she was going to have an aneurysm. “Why would they take the fridge?”
Uh, because they’re leaving this weekend and it’s a quick way to make a dollar. We shared the barracks with females from a chemical company. Most of them had left their stuff for their replacements, but a handful of them had sold everything. In fact, while Higher was on her rampage one of the girls from the other unit was at the door selling a refrigerator.
Trust me, the irony was not lost on me. I like to think the refrigerator was sold at that very moment. Of course, I have no way of ever proving that.
To fan the flames, some other NCO that doesn’t even live in the barracks with us showed up. Her immediate behavior was belligerent and accusatory. She seemed to have already decided what was going on. To my mind, she directed most of her ire at two individuals. She launched into this speech about respect and rank, which made no sense since the focus of the meeting was this fucking fridge.
An hour into this, I said, “Why don’t we just call the 1SG to resolve this matter?” Higher did not want to do that. They wanted to wait until the weekend for “the thief” to come clean. I was not comfortable with that because you’re basically saying that someone in the barracks is snatching shit up, stealing things. You can secure your clothes, small items and other minor valuables in your wall locker but you can’t secure your refrigerator in a locker. You can’t put a TV in there either. With this “thief” running around willy-nilly, anything is liable to come up missing.
I insisted on calling the 1SG but they ignored me. I wish I had just done it anyway. They could search our cubbies, find this stupid refrigerator and put the mystery to bed once and for all. They decided to go through the cubbies and write down all the serial numbers of the fridges we already had. Higher claimed that she had a list of items and serial numbers belonging to the females that were away. “They gave me their serial numbers before they left. I’m going to find out who has the fridge.”
When she said that, it really pissed me off. Basically you’re saying we could have avoided this uncomfortable fiasco but you chose to come in here like a half-brained mutant. If it were me, I would have gone straight to the 1SG. “Hey, Top, we got a missing item in the barracks. I have the serial numbers. Can you and the Company Commander search the barracks for it?” They’re the ones with the legal authority to do such a search. I don’t need to have a meeting with anyone. I don’t have to scream at anyone. I can let my leadership handle the situation.
Of course, that didn’t happen.
What irked me was that Higher lied to us point blank. She claimed that she had the serial number to the missing refrigerator. She also said that she walked by the refrigerator every single day and that she knew it on sight. The second problem is that only half the barracks was searched. These two did not even search the other females in the barracks. They couldn’t, of course, because we didn’t have any leadership present.
These two go through our cubbies and write down all the serial numbers to the fridges we’ve had for months. Higher said she would compare these numbers with the list she had. “I’m going to find that refrigerator.”
I was so pissed about the situation, the next day I went to my shop leadership and told them what happened from my perspective. I told them how I thought Higher was purposefully singling out those two Soldiers. They weren’t accusing those Soldiers of stealing the refrigerator, but there was some tension there that I felt was unnecessary. What I hoped was that my leadership would involve company leadership to resolve all this bullshit.
That did not happen.
Instead, we all got called into the 1SG’s office individually to talk about what transpired in the barracks. Apparently, someone had sent an inflammatory email to the 1SG and the CSM, which led to everyone accusing each other of everything from racism to fuckery. No one would say who sent the email. 1SG wouldn’t say what was in the email but he intimated there were some pretty serious accusations in it and that he had to act upon it.
The Case of the Mysterious Email is a story for another day.
So who had the refrigerator? Who even fucking knows? The list of serial numbers did not exist. The Case of the Missing Refrigerator was never resolved.