Thursday, January 05, 2006

Goin's on

2006 isn't off to a good start. Deep on a zero. I do have some hope, but it's faint and requires some decisions beyond my control to go my way. Oh well. It's not like I can be sent to Room 101. I read 1984 last night so I'm afraid there are going to be some references to it in the coming days. Sorry in advance.

Yesterday myself and my Reserve partner SGT Web got kicked out of one of our local high schools. Turns out that the New Year marked the beginning of a New Policy at Trademark Infringement High. Visitors must have made prior arrangements to visit the school. Prior to, apparently, yesterday it was perfectly acceptable for a recruiter to come onto the campus, check in at the front desk, and go visit the JROTC office. That was our plan. As the saying goes no plan survives contact with the enemy. Our enemy was a plum-shaped human-like creature who informed us that, without prior arrangements, our presence at the school was forbidden.

This wasn't an official visit. We weren't there for a class presentation or anything. We were coming in to check the RPI rack and leave some business cards. It's something I've done many times before. SGT Web and I thanked her for her time and told her we'd be back some other time when we had made the proper arrangements. SGT Web was supposed to go to the school on Friday with SSG Griffin anyway so it wasn't a huge loss on our part.

10 steps after leaving the office we ran into the NCO in charge of the JROTC class. He was taking the second year class out to the football field to do some D&C practice. A nice guy, I've met with him before, and we told him the situation. He said he'd go to the office and square us away and said we could just go back and see the JROTC commander. Silly SGT Web and I foolishly listened to a retired Navy senior NCO who we respect and did as he said. Stupid us, listening to the teacher of the class we wanted to see rather than the administrative wonk who was bitter that we interrupted her consuming of coffee and Red Vines.

I'm going to go ahead and concede some points here. We were in the wrong. The admin wonk had said we couldn't go back w/o the prior approval. I, mistakenly, thought that seeing the instructor we would have had to call to make arrangements would suffice for the school's "prior approval" policy. It would not have been an issue for Web and I to go w/ the NCOIC to the office and make sure everything was alright. We did not, and so we were in the wrong. Prior to yesterday this school had never had a problem with recruiters. We signed in, visited the class, student, teacher, or whoever we were supposed to and the world was good.

Web and I met with the commander of the JROTC and we talked for a couple minutes. We mentioned the event at the front desk and he seemed a bit amused. Remarked that it's been like that since they fixed a gate at the parking lot that gave them the power to prevent people from entering the campus. He told us all we'd have to do in the future is call him and let him know were we on our way so he could let the front desk know. No biggie. We thanked him for his time, and went to check the rack when it happened.

As I was walking to the rack this small, skinny woman with mousy brown hair and a taped knee stormed in and screeched for us to leave. We had violated their rules and, as such, were not welcome on the campus. We had been told our presence wasn't permitted, ignored the rule, and went back to the class anyway. I'd already admitted such a mistake. She was grandstanding and that was what pissed me off.

It's a significant event for a recruiter when a high school changes their access policies. Usually there is a meeting where such changes are announced so all services are aware of the change and we don't make mistakes like Web and I just made. No such thing had occurred. This was a change out of the blue. For all I know it is a change they made as we walked through the door. However, standing in front of the ROTC commander, when we're in the wrong, wasn't the time to argue with someone who can work to have the Army barred from the school. I kept my gut in check, apologized for the misunderstanding and we left the school by the shortest route possible.

It's not an unreasonable policy. I have no problem calling the school while I'm getting into the car and letting them know I'm coming for a quick visit. The problem I had was how out-of-the-blue it was. This is the only school in the area which, now, has such a policy. Every other school I've been to only requires that recruiters check in when arriving on campus. Just like every other visitor. This isn't a district policy. This isn't even a policy that's been formally put out for the services from the school.

Anyway, gotta get to work. Need to get myself off the nut because I'm holding back progress. First time being kicked off a campus. Hope it will be the last, but you never know.


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