Monday, August 29, 2005

Ideas Abandoned

Have you ever been to a NASCAR race? Visited the Army's website? Played America's Army? Some how, some way given your name and number to an Army rep so you could climb a rockwall, get some ID tags made, or take a turn on the Beam Hit set up? If so you've given me your name and number.

Those activies, and many others, generated what we in my office called ADHQ leads. Basically it's a lead generated by the Army's advertisement campaign. I don't know about the rest of the country, but where I recruit an ADHQ lead is a step-up from useless. At a NASCAR event there are so many people who want to just check out the set-up. And they are cool. They're huge, there are pit crew simulators, Blackhawk simulators, Hum-Vee simulators. It's really impressive. It makes anyone want to check them out. The only cost? Your name and number and if you're under 18 a parental waiver.

All those names and numbers get fed into a giant computer and a couple days later they are fed to me the little recruiter. The problem with ADHQ leads is there are so damned many. Think about your sterotypical NASCAR fan. Think about 10,000 of them giving their name and number to see an M16 up close. Even when the system tosses out the people over/underage and totally lacking education we're still talking about hundreds and hndred of names. Names that are just dropped on my box. Names who had no interest in the Army beyond the fact that the Blackhawk simulator looked "neat".

It was a waste of time. The waste was compounded by the desire of USAREC to see some return on the fantastic sum of money spent on these advertising campaigns. So, we, as the recruiters had to call these mostly worthless names with the utmost urgency. I'm sure that someone at Ft. Knox was convinced that every name generated at such an event was a contract waiting to happen. In application they are less so.

A few months ago that mystical "somebody" at USAREC implemented an office called the Lead Refinement Center or LRC. The job of the LRC was to try and filter through all the leads generated by ADHQ. In all fairness the LRC did it's job. The leads it gave us were usually qualified and usually were amiable to an appointment. Now, did LRC leads lead to more contracts? I don't know. I know that I never got a contract from LRC, but I'm a horrible recruiter so my experience shouldn't be counted.

For some strange reason it seems that the LRC has been killed. I no longer get their leads and I'm getting ADHQ leads again. The announcement of the LRC was accompanied by emails from up-on-high and an cover story in the Recruiter Journal. A month later it's almost like they've silently been taken out back, shot, and buried. I'm curious why something which seemed to be productive has disappeared from my life. I don't like ADHQ. We have another NASCAR event coming to town soon and I don't want all that trash on my computer.

Do any of the better, smarter recruiters, or those more connected and attentive know what, if anything, has happened to the LRC? If it's been killed why? I mean, even if LRC leads don't lead to more contracts they save the recruiters time. And if I've got more time I might be able to actually find someone to join the Army (that is of course hypothetical at this time since I've been incapable of putting people into the Army for two months).

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Kicking and Screaming

The hits just keep on coming. My current "hottest" prospect is going to drive me to wash down Valium with tequila shots.

I had met Mr. Hanging at a Border's bookstore. He had some free time before he went to work so I conducted him there in the coffeeshop. Turns out he'd been seriously considering the Army for a while now. He had even found my phone number from the Army website, but wasn't going to call until the weekend. How lucky for the both of us I had met him.

He's about 28 w/ a daughter who is not in his custody. Good on health but he's got a bugulary charge from when he was 18. Nothing but traffic violations since. He was recently forced to accept a lower paying job at work and he decided that he was bored with where he is in life, he wants to go back to school, etc etc etc. After we talk he decides that the Army will be able to provide him with the change in life that he's seeking short term, as well as the assist with what he wants in the long term.

Friday is Mr. Hanging's day off so I schedule him for the ASVAB. I had wanted to do a Fri/Sat test and phys so I can get the waiver submitted ASAP. I'm yet to hear of a waiver ever being disapproved (why do they make us do the damn things if they are never disapproved?) so the sooner I get it turned in the sooner he can enlist. I spend the remainder of my week going on about my business happy in the knowledge I've secured a tester for Friday.

My first hint of trouble comes Thursday. SSG George has a message for me from Mr. Hanging. Hanging is meeting with a relator so he can sell his house (he'd been planning on selling for a while, it's part of why he wants to join the Army since he won't have a house to maintain while he's gone). The meeting was scheduled to run until noon, at which point he would head to my office and I'd have him taken downtown.

Friday comes and noon rolls around; no word. 1300 rolls around. Still nada. I always give people 15 minutes. At 1316 I'm driving to his house. It's a 30 minutes one-way drive. No one is there. No Mr. Hanging, no cars, no relator, no one. I get back into my car dejected that yet again the Recruiting Gods are laughing it up down there in the 9th circle. I'm halfway to the office when SSG George calls to tell me that Mr. Hanging had to go pick uphis daughter. It seems that the daughter's mom had been asked towork later than planned so she couln't get her from day care. Mr. Hanging did. He, of course, didn't have my card on him so he couldn't call me. And to top it off, when I was calling him, he didn't recognize the number on the caller ID so he didn't answer, or check his messages. Luckily for me I, unlike some ofmy co-workers, won't leave a no-show a ranting, threatening message. Sometimes people just forget, I don't think I should risk burning a bridge for the momentary joy of venting my spleen to a voice mail.

Anyway. Friday is semi-shot. I adjust fire though. I have Mr. Hanging come in to do his 2807 so he can test/phys on Monday. He's all for it. Not a single "Yes"on the 2807. I'm trying hard to restrain my happiness. Even though he's not enlisting I still have him take the ghetto urinalysis.

If forced to go before a judge and state, under oath, whether his test came back negative I would honestly say yes. The cheap-o drug tests we use can detect THC, cocaine, and one other drug I cannot remember. It does so by using two lines (like a pregnancy test). Two lines = no drugs. The darker the line the more negative it is. There were two lines in his THC block. Even two days later there is still a very, very faint line. Enough of a line that my SC asked me, semi-kindly, why I didn't send him down to physical.

I looked at it like this. I wasn't 100% sure that he was going to pass the drug test. He admitted he was there with his brother when his brother was smoking pot, but that he didn't touch the stuff (not that I believe him, I've heard that excuse a lot in 10 years of seeing drug tests come back). If I send him down with his test reading the way it did he's going to pop hot and be DQ'd for 45 days. I figure if I wait a few days, and Mr. Hanging resists toking up, he'll be good-to-go. My old station commander would have thrown a fit, had some sort of sadistic "training" which involved embarassing me and imposing on the other recruiters in the office, sent the kid down anyway after strongly hinting about the existance of a store which sells fool-proof drug maskers, and then counseled me when the kid failed the piss test anyway. My new station commander agreed with my decision and told me to keep in touch with Mr. Hanging to make sure I got him downtown at a time when he'd be good to go.

Anyway, it's Sunday night which means that the suck resumes tomorrow. Hard to believe it's only been 6 months since I loved to go to work in the morning. Oh well... only two years until they tellme they're extending me for another year.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

That was fun

Mrs. SSG B and I went to see The Brother's Grimm last night. It was a good time. I was a bit worried it was going to be like Sleepy Hollow but I was spared that. I do like Matt Damon. I dimly recall that after Good Will Hunting Ben Affleck and Matt Damon were lumped into the same category as actors. Yeah. Matt Damon has gone on to succeed in the Bourne series, Saving Private Ryan, Talented Mr. Ripley, and Ocean's Eleven. Ben Affleck has gone on to do... Jennifer Lopez.

Maybe they're not as far apart as I'd originally thought.

Anyway, Grimm was a good movie. Not suitable for the youngin's due to some kind of intense moments (the gingerbread man was... icky).

It's a processing Saturday so I'm off to work... ugh...

Friday, August 26, 2005

A Great Offense

I must have greatly offended the recruiting gods in some way, shape, or form. Maybe I ran over their puppy, or effed their daughter. I mean, this is insane. I haven't put anyone in the Army in going on two calendar months. In the mean time I've had four people, four seemingly solid people, drop out on me. I had the guy who couldn't hear, the guy with a ton of fines which he told me about the day before he was to hit the floor, the guy who was way underweight (who has now ran away from home), and this week the final nail was driven into my heart by a prior service IRR to TPU transfer (something so easy it's called a "paper contract") back out on me. He committed to transfer form the IRR to a Reserve unit on Thursday. Because my battalion Reserve ops guy was on leave his job wasn't pulled until Tuesday. Those four days were enough for him to decide that he was happier in his underpaying, dead-end job than being back in the Army. So he back out. A freaking paper contract decides he doesn't want to enlist. Luckily I'm very cynical and hateful so I'm able to easily imagine how my performance could be worse.

Luckily for me USAREC's "One in the bush is worth two in the hand" mentality is working for me. Shortly after I arrived at the RS I realized that people who put contracts into the Army get a single day of being left alone. And if you don't put someone in the Army you get a single day of being punished. You have to go to the CLT and speak w/ the 1SG. You have to get some training with the RT, and then you're done. Sure you'll take some heat for not having anyone in, but it's minor. And that is the punishment for failing to put someone into the Army. However, if you fail to look like you'll be able to get someone into the Army your life changes significantly.

Failure to make appoints, failure to get a person to say "Yes, I will come to your office" is a cardinal sin. It's 9th circle of Hell stuff to not make appointments. Failure to make appointments is tantamount to treason in the eyes of USAREC. Only slightly less traitorous is failing to conduct appointments. Making and conducting appointments is a daily thing. If I fail to make or conduct an appointment I am beaten that day. So, from what I've seen, the most important thing to do is to make it look like you have a ton of people ready to join.

All that the 79R (career recruiter) is capable of seeing is the potential. They look at a processing list and see nothing but roses. A kid has a DUI, a possession of pot charge, an assault charge, and is 10 pounds overweight? To the 79R it's a couple sheets of paper and the kid is in. They don't see the pain and suffering the recruiter will go through trying to track down the revealed charges, the inevitably hidden charges, and then overcome the fact that the kid is a lazy, over-eating stoner. Every prospect is a future future Soldier to a 79R. If the kid fails to enlist it isn't because the kid is a flakey loser who will be arrested for grand theft auto and gang-raped in prison soon. It's because the recruiter didn't work hard enough to get him in. An appointment is a contract to the station commander. Hence why, even if you have nothing in the Army, if you're making appointments you're good to go because you have the potentional to write 10 contracts. I hate that.

When they put the focus on making and conducting appointments that is what I will do. If I'm going to be made to stay until 2200 until I make a senior, I guarantee the moment your back is turned I will be pulling a name off the LRL and making an appointment. Sure I'm putting trash into my box to do so, but damnit, either I put trash in my box or I get beaten. I'll go for trash every time.

I had a station commander tell me that "There are only two reasons people are not in the Army. Either they're unqualified, or they are ignorant." I always nodded my head and said "hooah" when he uttered that sage advice, even though I didn't agree. I've seen it too many times, the Army is not for everyone. It's a hard, frustrating, occasionally dangerous job. 99% of the time what anyone in the Army does is no different from what someone gainfully employed in the civilian world will do. It's a bit of a stretch but even 11Bs have some civilian-world carryover. It's that 1% that keeps people from joining the Army.

I've thought long and hard about what that 1% is. It's important that I figure it out because it's what keeps people who would otherwise enlist from enlisting. And it's my job to get them to enlist. It sounds so easy. 1%. One measly percent. What makes up that percent? What is so different about being a 42A Human Resources Specialist than a clerk for a corporation?

Some people like to say they hate being told what to do.

Buddy, there is only one career on Earth where you won't have anyone telling you what to do. And that is being a homeless bum.

Some people like to say their wife/husband or girl/boyfriend will leave them if they enlist.

Buddy, if s/he'll leave you for making what is probably the smartest decision you will ever make, you're better off.

Some people like to say they want to go to college first.

Buddy, fewer than half of all college students will complete their four-year degree within six years of enrolling. At least if you're in the Army Uncle Sam is paying for your education, whether you complete it or not. Heck, I think veterans are more likely to complete their degree anyway. Something about being more mature, motivated, and dedicated.

Why all these excuses? What is that 1%? What is that sliver of a reason for people not joining the Army? Then I thought of it.

I fly a lot. My family is in Texas and my in-laws are in New England. I've got friends in OK, SC, and MA. I'm also a bit over the average height for an American male, so when I fly I always try to get the exit row since it has a bit more room. When you sit in an exit row one of the things they ask you is if you feel you're capable of operating the door in the event of emergency. I've seen people who had to be moved because they did not feel they were capable of performing the simple duty of "pull handle, move hatch."

That is the 1%. I'm sure many people will snipe that people don't want to enlist because they don't want to get killed. As I've said life is dangerous. Heck, in Arizona a couple of cart-pushers in a Wal-Mart were gunned down for no freaking reason. If someone is so afraid of being killed they should probably stay away from their car. Fear of injury or death isn't the 1%. The 1% is something else.

Most of the people asked to move from the exit row were young men and women in seemingly good health. There was no apparent physical reason for them to not be able to fulfill the pull/move obligation. So it must be mental. It is a fear of being responsible for other people's lives. It is my opinion that is the 1%.

If you spend enough time in the Army you will be responsible for the lives of someone else. Whether it is a fellow Soldier or a civilian who is in harm's way, you will have to expose yourself to danger to save them from harm. That is what is truly frightening. Despite the growth of the victim society, most people are still mature enough to accept responsibility for their own actions and life. But when asked to take responsibility to someone else's they, like the people in the exit row, balk.

I can't begrudge someone for not having the resolve to take such an important responsibility. My former SC believed that anyone who was knowledgeable would want to join the Army. I disagree with that philosophy. I'm sure that anyone who takes the time to learn the programs and benefits would want to join, but I have my doubts over whether everyone who would want to join, who is qualified to join, should join. Don't get me wrong. If you are qualified for the Army, and you want to be in the Army, I will put you into the Army. Whether I think you have "it" or not. However, if you're qualified, knowledgeable of what you're doing, and still say "no", I won't brow beat you. I won't call you every week for a year asking "now". I will occasionally follow-up because people change their minds, but I won't make it my life's goal to force you to do something you don't want to. I feel that if you don't think you're adult enough to be in the Army, you're probably right.

Anyway. I've got a long night remaining as I square away a serious offense waiver packet for someone I hope will, someday, join the Army. He wants to join badly, but since I'm on the Recruiting God's blacklist I shall never put in another contract until I sacrifice enough virgins to appease them.

Qu'est ce que c'est?

I was reading my comments (I really should call them "comment" since I think I have three other people who read what I write, and I love all of you, and yes mom, I will call you this Sunday) when I saw a mention about my lil' blog being mentioned in a newspaper. Anyone know about this?

And I think the title is French for "What the?", but it's been over a decade since I last took French and I pretty much forgot everything.

*Update* Changed the title to reflect a correction to my piss-poor French.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Pathetic Attempt at Punditry

I think this is my first attempt to be something of a pundit. I was reading Jack Army, as I am wont to do, and I was reading the comment on this post. One of the comments was from a reader and fellow military blogger IRR Soldier. I can't remember how but IRR Soldier's comments led me to this site where I read Kevin's response to JA's comments on the NYT article that started the whole thing in the first place. I was going to leave a comment and all that, but I'm watching the Astros lose to the Pad's and felt like venting my spleen on my own little place.

I have never misled, lied about, or concealed the risks that go with the Army. I'm an AGR Soldier. When my time in USAREC purgatory is finally done I will be returning to the Army Reserve. I'll probably stay here in the same location where I've been a recruiter. That means that I will get the pleasure of serving with the same men and women who I am putting into the Army now. I do not want to report to my unit and have one of the squad leaders there come up to me and say how I'd lied about what they were getting in to and how much I ruined their life. I'm not a Regular Army recruiter where the odds of me seeing one of my recruits again is slim. My enlistees will be assigned to a place within 50 miles of where I work and live.

Kevin says "he (Bob Herbert, NYT) believes that the recruiters have not given equal time to the horrors of war as they have to the so called benefits of joining." Maybe he's right. I don't fill my evidence book with pictures like these (kinda nasty, feel dirty having to find them).

Oops. Those were pictures of victims from car crashes. Now that I think about it I'm feeling cheated and lied to by my Chevy dealer since they didn't show me those pictures or tell me how dangerous it could be to drive a car. All they told me about were these so-called benefits like the ability to go place to place, listen to music in climate-controlled comfort, be able to haul cargo in the spacious bed, and enjoy the freedom and responsibility that being a vehicle owner can bring. They mentioned nothing about insurance costs, the possibility that gas prices could sky rocket or the significant chance of me dying or being injured in a car accident. Hell, 40,000 people may die in car accidents this year (I went with the first results Google gave me so if the number is wrong I'm sorry). I was told none of this. And yet these death traps are marketed to children.

Maybe I'm being unfair. It's not the car dealership's responsibility to make sure I make a smart and informed decision; fully aware of all sides and possibilities. They are not required to make sure I have all the information I want. All the information I need. And even more information than I ask for. After finding out that I could get a 6-disc changer with a five-speed transmission they're not required to make me watch highway safety movies.

Recruiters are already fighting an uphill battle against misconception and misinformation when we speak with most prospects. In a country of 300 million people fewer than 1 million are actively serving in the Army, and around 2 million are serving in any armed forces. I'm not a statistician but I think that means someone could know 150 people before the odds mean one of them will be in the military. There is a whole lot of poor information out there on the Army, coming from as many different sources as there are non-recruiting personnel. And I must counter that misinformation with everyone I talk to, be it a prospect, the prospect's spouse, parents, child, friends, etc. Kevin would like for me to, not only do my job of putting people in the Army, but Michael Moore's job as well by trying to talk people out of the Army. I can only do one and I don't feel like taking Mr. Moore's job from him.

As proof of how deceptive recruiters can be Kevin offered an experience from his own time as a CO during the Gulf War. "I had kids (SSG B: if they were in your unit they were Soldiers, not kids) come to me nervous as hell about deploying. What was their argument? Hey, I joined this to get a college degree not die! Now, you can call them stupid, naive, or just plain selfish but the bottom line is that the marketing is trickery and quite frankly, bait and switch."

I can assure you that if I though for a picosecond that my CO thought me "stupid, naive, just plain selfish" the saying "you respect the rank, not the man" would have become my mantra. I do hope that you didn't think so little of the men and women serving with you. I joined to pay for college as well, not to die. No one joins to die. Some people join to fight, but I hope that they expect to make it through their tour alive and well. If not, there are programs available to them to give them the help they need. Someone who joins the Army with the hope of being killed has a problem. It is a very poor leader who takes someone who has a rational fear of combat and belittles them as "stupid" or "selfish". I'm curious about how many of the Soldiers Kevin went with did get killed. IIRC there were about 300 US casualties between combat and non-combat deaths for the Gulf War.

Quid pro quo. If the Army adds scenes of flag-draped coffins, the Honor Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, rows of crosses at Arlington, Normandy, or any other such hallowed ground, will the media and Hollywood in particular stop trying to lose the war? I mean, they weren't always on the side of fascists.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005


I read an article from Militantpundit on Making Tomorrow's Military Today. Based on articles like this one (un pw fredderf567) you'd think that the greatest threat to a decent education is the presence of military recruiters on campus. It was such a terrible fate for Ms. Brousseau's child. Six phone calls from that horrible, horrible recruiter. I'm willing to bet an Army of One pen that those phone calls went like this:

"Hello, I'm Sergeant Soandso with the Army. Is Skippette available?"
"Sorry, no, she's not."
"Well, would it be possible for me to leave my name and number and if she would like some information about the Army she could give me a call?"
"I suppose so, but I don't think she's very interested."
"I understand that sir or ma'am, and if she is not interested if she could just call me and tell me so I'll make a note of that and I won't call her again until she's ready."

30-45 seconds, a minute tops. I, as the professional non-commissioned officer I am, will always remain cheerful, friendly, and respectful. Whether I'm on the phone, seeing you on the street, meeting you at your house or my office. As long as you show me the respect and courtesy you expect from me, I will treat you better than anyone else who will talk to you on the phone.

This is a dangerous world. The military is a dangerous profession. We go into harm's way to, hopefully, kill those who wish us harm. When the US Army goes into battle we go equipped with the most effective equipment available. The Interceptor body armor we wear can stop a bullet so effectivey that the guy shot gets up, returns, fire, and captures the man who shot him. Our training and tactics are the best in the world. When the Army goes to war we go ready.

Any parent who thinks the worst thing going at their school is the presence of recruiters is woefully ignorant. High school is dangerous now.

And if parents want to opt-out of the military because they're worried for their kid's safety, then maybe colleges should be opted out at the same time. After all, the college recruiters probably never told these kids how dangerous their campus could be.

The world is dangerous. Every time you walk outside, get into a car, take a shower, go to work, go to school, answer the door, or even stay in bed you're exposing yourself to risk of harm. I, as a recruiter, do not hide those risks from my prospects. I can't even if I wanted to. The risk of the Army is shown every day on the news, cover of the paper, talked about on the radio. I can't deny it. I can't claim it doesn't exist. I embrace it. I show the applicants and their influencers how the Army goes about protecting our own. Equipment, training, planning, intelligence, all go together to make sure everyone comes home safely. It doesn't always happen though.

It's a fact of war that young men and women die. 42,000 people die in car accidents in our country each year. That's like 115 people a day. In car accidents. High schools have student parking lots. They're facilitating the death and injury of students by providing them with a place to park the cars that can kill them.

I hate hypocricy. If these counter recruiters just had the intestional fortitude to admit that they hate the US and want to see it overthrown I'd have a lot more respect for them. They're not about protecting children. If recruiters can't find enough volunteers then people will be conscripted. The people who are against recruiters would, probably, also say they are against a draft. Without volunteers or drafting there is no military. No military, no United States. Thus, to be against recruiters finding people interested in enlisting, and providing them with the information necessary to make an informed decision, is to be against people joining the military. To be against people joining the military is to be against the military. And without a military America as the land of the free is gone. I appreciate that there are more nuanced views than this. I understand that not everyone who is against recruiting thinks they are against the military. But this is my spot on the web and I'm free to call the counter-recruiter movement bullshit if I want to.

Back to work. The Army Reserve will need a new Sergeant Major in a couple decades. I gotta go find the person who will be that SGM.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Madden '06

I love the Madden franchise. I first started playing with Madden 95 and it's been a yearly ritual to buy the newest version ever since. I'm not a great player, but I'm good enough to be competitive with most other gamers. Each new version would have something of a learning curve, but this year I think they managed to screw the pooch.

This year Madden added a new "feature" called QB Vision. Basically it's your QB's sight line. If a receiver is outside of the QB's line of sight you'd better not throw it to that receiver. It will be intercepted. I'm sure with practice I might come to love this new thing, but it just seems so painfully unnecessary. I could turn off the option, but I want to be able to play against my friends who will probably use the feature. So I need to use it as well. Plus, it's not like they won't keep the feature in the next version so I might as wellget used to it, but I don't have to like it.

I think they included QB Vision as a way to make the game more realistic. That makes me wonder whether they ever actually played the game. The standard setting for Madden is like a 5-minute quarter. In that five minute quarter, even on the most difficulat setting, I'm routinely able to rack up 20 to 30 points a game with a total time of possession of... 8-12 minutes. The game itself is unrealistic. It's designed to be fun and give me a bit of a football thrill until the real thing starts. QB Vision kills that spirit for me. It kills it dead.

Friday, August 12, 2005

You've got to be KIDDING me!

I was out doing some F2F with a friend of mine from the station, SGT Bry. We were really just out driving around (ODA), but you never know when that next contract will just pop up on you. I had to top-off the G-jet so we stopped at a Mobil by the office. Bry and I are standing at the car when we notice, at the island on the other side of the station, a foursome of kids who look to be in the target age group. Bry and I were debating how were were going to approach the situation when one of them broke off and came towards us.

"Hey man," he says, "we ran out of gas and we're all broke."

I just kinda roll my eyes and tell him I don't carry cash and Bry says he's busted too. However; the Army offers a cash bonus of up to $20,000 we tell him, and ask if he'd ever checked it out.

"No way man. I've got better things going on."

I flip.

"What the do you mean you've got better things going on? You're begging for money at a gas station. You don't have anything better going on. Twenty grand from the Army is the best offer your loser ass in a sausage fest of a car pool is ever going to get. off."

The kid storms off to the car with his friends. At this point Bry and I kinda look at each other and start doing the math. I have no doubt, all things being fair, the two of us would wipe the floor with those four. But, we don't know for sure if all things woul be fair, and it wouldn't look good for two noncommissioned officers and grown men to beat the snot out of a group of kids on a security camera. Luckily for them (and us) they just get into the, supposedly empty of gas, car and drive off.

Bry and I just laugh about it and move on with life.

Thursday, August 11, 2005


I don't know who said it but there is truth to the saying that there is no freedom like having nothing to lose. Unless one of the people at the very top of my funnel decide to change their minds I'll end this month with nuthin'. I take comfort in the fact that I think I might be set for the coming RCM. All these people who didn't say "yes" this month might just say it next month.

I conducted a couple of appointments today and have a semi-good feeling about one of them. Which one I don't know, but one will join. I wish I could be more hopeful but something my little time out here has taught me is that too much hope to a bad thing. I'm not quite to Shawshank Redemption levels of fearing hope, but it's in the ballpark. So much can go wrong for an applicant between saying they want to join and actually joining. Between some previously unknown medical problem popping up during the 2807 or hot seat, to some stupid problem at the Military Entrance Prevention Station, to the Career Counselor offering a guy with a 97 QT and line scores in the 120s anything better than Laundry and Bath. So much can go wrong and quash that tiny bud of hope.

But today I accepted my abyssmal failure and I've focused myself on next RCM. If mana from heaven drops into my lap I'll put it in before the end of the month, but until that happens I'll just worry about putting in my six (ugh) for next month.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Anger and Frustration

I almost lost it today. I'm on a zero. It's deep into T1 and I've got nothing. The new RCM is days away and I will be closing this month out on my first nada. I'm frustrated. Nothing has broke my way. People who I needed to say "yes" said "no". People who were going to get through MEPS didn't. It's just been a bad month. And it's made worse in that it's the best month the company has had in ages. In previous months people who had failed got lost in a sea of failure. This month, I'm an island to myself.

Without a doubt I'll be toughing it out. I've got a large and leathery ass. You have to chew on it for a long-long time before you hit anything which will hurt. I don't fear 1SG conferences or training session at the CLT. I've done my job. I've been out prospecting for hours and hours and hours. I've talked to everyone, groups, individuals, people who looked ready, people who looked crazy. If you were out walking the streets or standing in line at the Target or Wal-Mart I was saying "Hi" and handing you a business card. It just hasn't gone my way. I'm still new. I don't have the established network of friends and COIs and VIPs and FSs to feed on when times get lean. I'm building it and I can see that network paying off in another 6 months, but in the mean time I'm dying.

What made me almost lose it today though was a co-worker and someone I do consider something of a friend, I'll call him SSG George. He's been at the station for a while, but this is his first month on numbers. In T1 of last month a kid walks in while SSG George is the only person in the office and says he wants to join the Army. George conducts him, gets him to take the ASVAB and Phys/enlists him in Week 1. Good for George, he gets to bust his cherry with a GA walk-in. So George has been on auto-pilot all month. No one bugs him because he's got a GA. Last week another guy walks in and George gets to conduct him. 99 on the EST, he just got fired form a local grocery store, and he wants to join the Army. Kid joined this today giving George 2 GA walk-ins.

I admit it, I'm jealous. I'm pesticide to contracts this month. If you were an applicant of SSG B something has gone wrong for you. Hearing loss, traffic fine you can't pay anytime soon, and so on and so on. I've done what I'm supposed to do and it hasn't worked for me. I emptied my tiny funnel last month trying to meet an excessive mission and I'm paying for it this month. While I'm here struggling I've had to give one contract to the regular Army (I actually didn't have to, but if I didn't I'd be a dick and I'd rather be happy with myself and on a zero than think of myself as a dick and have a contract in), and I watched another recruiter get to write two GA walk-in contracts. That wasn't the cause of my frustration though. My frustration was caused by SSG George's attitude.

I will take trash-talking from anyone in the station and dish it right back. My production has sucked this month and as a result the station and the company is going to pay the price. I can accept that. It's the first time that the AR has been hurting while the RA has been thriving. I've lost 100 recruiter incentive points because of RA FS losses since I've been here. The RA recruiters' production has been stabbing me violently since I arrived and I've never complained. I see how hard they work and struggle and I know it's not their choice to miss mission. The first time the roles are reversed and they scream like a small child with a skinned knee.

I had made a smart-assed remark to one of the other recruiters in response to a smart-assed comment he made to me. SSG George then suggest I be quiet until I can write two GAs like he did. I was glad that George said that as he was walking out the door because I was going to explode when the sock wore off. He's written two this month because he was lucky. Pure and simple. He vacuumed up two guys who walked in ready to go with nothing wrong. Those were to two good-to-go walk-ins this station has had all quarter. And the new guy got the both of them. It was total BS. Should I have gotten them? No. They didn't want the Reserve. But those were not recruiter generated. They weren't a referral from someone George knew. They were luck. If those guys hadn't walked in for George he'd be on the same zero I'm on.

What keeps me from going ape-shit is the knowledge that George doesn't have anything else. He was trying to sandbag the guy today so he'd have him for next month, but he wasn't allowed. I've seen his production. I know what he has in his funnel: nothing. Unless his luck holds he'll be in the same world of hurt I am in a month. I don't wish it on him, and I hope he makes it, and if I can help I will, but if he doesn't I will take a bit of schedenfraude from it. Yes indeed.

Anyway, this has turned way too much into a "Dear Diary" thing, so I'm shutting up.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

60 years have gone by fast

Has it been 60 years since the end of WWII was in sight? I had totally forgotten that yesterday was the anniversary of the nuclear attack on Hiroshima. I know that people far smarter than I had researched the subject and some some them think the US shouldn't have used a nuclear weapon. I'm not smart enough to argue the fine details of that discussion. But I do know that two flights of B-29 Stratofotresses ended WWII in the course of a week. About two dozen men brought to a close a war that had raged for a decade and cost millions of millions of lives.

If people want to argue that the US should not have dropped the bombs, fine. But I know there are countless people alive today who would not otherwise be. They are the Soldiers, Marines, Airmen, and Sailors of the US, Britain, Japan, Russia, and the other involved parties who did not die in an amphibious assault. They are the children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren of those same men. To me, that justifies the attack.

It's Sunday, my only day off. I'll be on the motorcycle if anyone needs me.

Friday, August 05, 2005

How Short the Memory

I'm on a zero. A big fat zero. Everything this month has gone wrong. Applicants have disappeared. Prospects have changed minds, moved, got busted for DUI, and so on and so on. If it could not go my way it has not gone my way. For the first time since I've been out here, and apparently for the first time in a while, the RA will box and the AR will not, thus keeping the station from achieving box. And I am the focus of their ire.

How easy they forget the months where AR boxed and RA was at 20% accomplishment.

I'm in a large station. Of the nearly dozen (we're overstrength right now because some replacements have arrived months before the people they are replacing are leaving) recruiters in my office, I am one of two AR recruiters. To make it even more painful, I'm one of two AR recruiters in the entire company. 50 some odd recruiters and I am 50% of the AR force for the company. The other one, who is a very good recruiter, is non-productive at this time because a serious family issue is preventing them from working more than a couple hours a day. As a result of that I, alone, am responsible for the entire AR mission for the company.

This quarter the mission was over 15 volume. Something like 7GA, 3SA, 3PA, 2 OT. For me. Alone. I get no support from the rest of the company. Previous to this quarter, and the end of RA cross-contribution, the other stations in the company would consistently write an AR contract. Now the other stations don't even bother. They don't ask "Well, if the RA isn't for you,maybe the AR would work better?" They just boot the kid out of the office and drive on.

I've been told that the reason I'm not getting any support is because I don't "make nice enough" with the other station commanders. I've been told I need to butter them up, take them lunch, pass them leads and prospects before they'll help me. Why? Why the heck am I being forced to go, bend myself backwards, to try and get these asses to do their job. It wasn't my decision to make it impossible for the RA to write AR. I'm sorry that some general's decision has cut off what they viewed as their cheap gravy train to get someone of a volume zero. Just because the RA recruiter can't write the contract doesn't mean that the contract doesn't need to be written.

I'm not asking for much. All I'd like would be for them to ask "Well, just suppose the AR could help you achieve your goals," or something to that affect. I'm assigned a mission for an entire company, but I cannot prospect through the entire company area. 50+ schools, thousands of businesses, hundreds of thousands of people. I have had a hard time getting 2 contracts a month. Now I'm expected to write 6? When all I have time for in a day is the same prospecting efforts which resulted in 2?

Man, I hate this job.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

They win again

I was right. The Recruiting Gods were lulling me into a false sense of security. Turns out Mr. Mayer isn't able to hear well enough. So his PULHES was a 111311. Which kills him as an applicant and puts me back onto a zero. Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Of course the SC and the 1SG both think the medical waiver will be approved. But I know better. I'm yet to see a waiver for hearing get approved. Hell, I'm yet to see a medical waiver be approved. I'm going to call USAREC's "Suggestion Hotline" and suggest they change the name of MEPS from Military Entrance Processing Station to Military Entrance Prevention Station.

Monday, August 01, 2005


I think the Recruiting Gods are setting me up for failure. The first-day-back started as I'd imagined it would. The two guys I had getting ready to pour into my funnel decided to go Regular Army rather than Reserve. Which meant they were going to be reassigned to another recruiter. But then the day took a turn for the not-sucky. I had gotten a phone call from one of the outlying stations saying they had a referral. Now, most of the referrals I get from the RA recruiters in the outlying stations are people who are broke. They're overweight, or have law violations, or some other problem. This guy wasn't though. He was over 35 and thus, the RA couldn't work with them. So he became mine.

He's good to go. Mr. Mayer, as I'll call him, only has one minor traffic violation, good on HT/WT, and health. Grad, already ASVAB'd a 50. And he's ready to go. I'll be driving to his house tomorrow afternoon to get his packet started. I'll need to do a birth verification and track down some transcripts, but not a huge issue. He should be in on Thursday. In addition to having this mana from heaven drop into my lap, I made two appointments which fed the beast.

I figured my day wouldn't get much better than this. I was, kinda, wrong. One of the guys who I was told were ready to flip RA wasn't. It was second-hand info. He's still firmly committed to joining the Reserves. He's not ready to join this second (which will frustrate my SC, but /shrug), but he's committed to joining. It actually works out well for me. I'll get my qulity for this month, and I can sandbag Mr. Non-committal until the start of the next RCM. If my station was actually close to mission box I'd be a bit more aggressive on Mr. NC. But, even if EVERYTHING goes right for the station for the rest of the RCM we'll still be about 8 short of mission. My guy would make that 7 short and I'm just not that into tilting windmills.

Anyway, I've still got a whole week for the recruiting gods to punish me for my insolence. For my positive thinking. I await the thunder form up on high.