6 military-life problems that don't go away when you get out
The DD-214. The magical ticket that ends all of your military life problems that started the moment that recruiter told you that your job doesn’t deploy, you’ll have plenty of time for college, and everyone looks sexy in a uniform.
Except that some of those problems you think of as “military” problems are actually just problems everywhere, and they will absolutely follow you into the civilian world. Here are six of the crappiest parts of the military that will keep coming up at every job:
1. People “Piggy-backing” at the end of meetings
Seriously, someone always wants to impress the boss. In the military, this means that safety briefs and other formations go on longer than they should, often with everyone standings or taking a knee as the order “Don’t drink and drive, no, really” is repeated about 14 times.
The only difference in the civilian world is that it’s always a meeting about something mundane like “Stop putting recyclables in the trash compactor” and you’re often, but not always, allowed to sit for it. On the plus side, you’re never required to stand at parade rest, so that’s nice.
2. Obviously contradictory orders
Everyone’s been on that work detail where you get a long briefing about how to clear vines or branches or something safely, and then some private gets told to hold another one by the feet as the second one cuts branches upside down with sharp blades.
But don’t look to the civilian world to make more sense. Get a job in a warehouse and expect to hear stuff like, “Never lift anything over 40 pounds without having a buddy help you. Alright, now Tom, you go move those 50-pound boxes on your own. Everyone else come with me.”
3. Outdated equipment
Understand that no management on the planet wants to spend money on equipment for their workers until they have to. In the military, that meant it took a couple hundred letters to senators and an exposé on CNN before the command would buy the updated body armor that cost $2 more per plate.
But the civilian side isn’t any better. If that old Atari computer can still track the customer records and the engine jack only leaks a little bit of hydraulic fluid, you can bet that neither of those things is getting upgraded for a while. Probably not until the jack fails and Tom gets crushed under an old Toyota engine.
4. Horrible incompetence in your co-workers
Come on, you didn’t think that 50-year-0ld supply sergeant crankily waiting to retire as an E-5 while doing absolutely no work only existed in the military, right? If so, brace yourself, because those dudes exist in the civilian world, too.
As a matter of fact, take a look around at your civilian job after you get that beautiful DD-214. If there’s a red-faced, lazy, 55-year-old equipment office manager complaining about how he “doesn’t get enough respect around here,” go ahead and ask when he retired from the military.
5. Having to find weird places to sleep
This part, at least, will be an easy transition for most of the skaters and shammers out there. Remember all those late missions and early mornings that drained the batteries, leading to everyone taking turns napping behind the connexes, in humvee seats, or squeezed under the stairs where first sergeant hopefully wouldn’t see?
Well, late nights drinking and early morning freeway dashes to avoid rush hour are only a little more forgiving, leading to you having to find spots to snatch a nap in the copy room, supply closets, and your car. Recommend getting a car with a large cargo bed or folding backseats.
6. Guys who do the bare minimum and act like heroes
For everyone who does the bare minimum of their orders, cuts sling loads, and goes to the bar to brag about it, there’s plenty of good jobs in the civilian world for you. Congrats. For everyone else, sorry, those dudes will be at your civilian job, too.
You may be looking forward to heading home at 5 everyday, but remember that the guys in accounting may go home about 4:30. And if you still have to pay an equipment rental place before you head home? Sorry, there’s no one in the office with credit card access. If that screws up your timeline for the next day, that’s really unfortunate.