There’s nothing more disheartening in the military than pulling staff duty or charge of quarters on a Holiday. Although it’s not nearly as bad as something like discovering a terminally illness or losing a loved one, every single troop, regardless of rank, finds themselves working through the Kübler-Ross model, commonly known as the “five stages of grief,” when pulling holiday staff duty.
Let’s start from the top:
The holidays are approaching and you decided not to put in your leave form and lounge on-base for the extended weekend. Then, the duty roster is posted outside of the Commander’s office.
You see your name, highlighted in yellow, on the calendar. You frantically look at it again and then immediately to your phone to verify that it’s the date of the holiday — it is.
This can’t be happening to you. Either you internalize your frustration or you send it up to the chain of command: There’s got to be a mistake! This can’t be happening to you of all people!
You just pulled it a few weeks ago! You already pulled it a few holidays back! But at some point, you stop being angry.
As holiday staff duty draws nearer, you ask around. Maybe somebody’s willing to trade dates. Maybe you know a guy hurting for cash and offer a little payment under the table. If you’re feeling desperate, you might trade ridiculously expensive crap for someone else to take your place (I’ve seen someone trade a PlayStation for a single day of duty).
Sadly, no one will take it from you and the thought of going AWOL won’t leave the back of your mind. You’re screwed. Get comfortable, because you’ll probably be stuck in this stage of grief until about hour twelve of pulling staff duty.
Finally, acceptance sets in. The anger goes away. The depression simmers. This is just the way things are and that’s just fine.
New-age “philosophers” and those annoying Facebook images of inspirational quotes draped over an idyllic landscape are wrong: Acceptance isn’t a grand epiphany that makes everything better. It’s giving up the will to be angry. It’s the moment you stop trying to fight the Big Green Weenie.