May 20, 2004

Air Force Blue (part 13)

Welcome to another boring story about my days in the United States Air Force. These are in no particular order, and this one takes place about midway through my twelve year stretch. My first four years were spent as Security Police, and then I cross-trained into Computer Programming.

I’d been stationed at Gunter Air Force Station in Montgomery, Alabama for a few years. Gunter was home of the AF Data Systems Design Center, where many of the standard Air Force computer systems used around the world were developed and maintained. Ever do a DITY (do-it-yourself) move? I wrote that one, way back when.

But this story isn’t about computers and programming, it’s about an extra duty I picked up – “supply guy”. I’m sure there was an official name for it, but I don’t remember what it was. Basically, when someone in our unit needed some equipment or supplies, they’d come to me and I handled the paperwork and legwork needed to get it done. There was nobody to teach me how to do the job, so I spent a lot of time on the phone asking the base supply unit lots of questions, and I visited with them quite a bit, building a relationship (because everything goes easier for a friend) and asking more questions. The supply people saw I wasn’t trying to get around the system, I just wanted to make sure I did things right the first time, which would save me time and frustration, as well as make folks in my unit happy (and less likely to bitch).

The Design Center was a unique military environment because there was a large civilian component. These weren’t contractors – although there were a few of those – they were federal employees who provided the long-term stability to the place. The military folks would get rotated out periodically, but the civilians were there forever.

One of the ranking civilians in my unit was tasked to set up a new branch, and he got to work. Besides figuring out how many new people he would need, he made arrangements for new office space and then came to me. We went through his requirements and put together an order for desks, chairs, filing cabinets, and all the other bits of furniture you need for offices.

Contrary to popular belief, the military doesn’t waste tons of money (notice the average age of our bomber and fighter aircraft for instance). One of the things I had to do as supply guy was to make a visit to the warehouse where used but usable furniture was stored. When someone wanted new stuff, we were required to go to the warehouse and see if we could find serviceable things instead of buying new.

I wandered through the stacks – the place was huge – picking out the best available. There was nothing wrong with the furniture I selected, other than it wasn’t new, and I even went to extra trouble to make sure partitions matched and such. And because it was a rush job, I set it all up to be delivered via flatbed truck during the following week, even though I’d be on leave.

The civilian big-boss wasn’t happy. Like most people, he wanted brand new furniture and raised hell with me and my supervisor, but there wasn’t much he could do. I'm not a big fan of 'by the book', but in this case the rules made sense and I had no reason not to follow them.

Two weeks later, back at work after my leave, I got a phone call from the supply folks. Seems that they had a requisition to order new furniture and nobody had done the ‘used furniture’ check first. I arranged to go down there that afternoon, and went to find out what was going on.

Turned out that when the flatbed of furniture showed up, Mr. big-shot Civilian refused delivery of the entire load. Then he submitted paperwork to buy everything brand new. And he did all this knowing I was on leave, hoping to get it processed before I got back.

That afternoon at the warehouse I found a nice pile of used furniture that hadn’t yet been re-sorted into it’s various areas, and – wonder of wonders – it exactly matched what big-boss needed. I wonder where it could have come from? Heh.

Two weeks later I got another phone call. A delivery flatbed was out back, full of furniture. I called big-boss and let him know it was here, and he was tickled pink, thinking that he’d pulled a fast one on me.

Imagine the look on his face as the forklift started unloading his ‘new’ office furniture. I even included some horrible framed “art” for the walls of his new offices. These were my little revenge, because I only had one requirement for those: heart-stoppingly ugly. Anything that also had a shitty frame was especially welcomed to the pile.

He didn’t speak to me for a long time after that. As for the “art”, I later found where he’d hidden those and personally hung them up for him one evening.

Posted by Ted at May 20, 2004 11:37 AM
Category: Boring Stories

LOL!!! Another great story, Ted!

Posted by: Susie at May 20, 2004 02:48 PM

These are not boring stories - they are great. More, more!

Posted by: Ozguru at May 20, 2004 08:27 PM

You are an evil bastard and I salute you.

Posted by: Keith at May 21, 2004 09:21 PM

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