Boy + Girl + Army + e-Harmony = Captain and Mrs. Butters! This is what we're up to. Observations, opinions, events, images, and more.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Army algebra: An education

Yesterday was supposed to be a fairly productive day. Bosslady (all praise be to her name) granted my last-minute request to take off work an hour early, the plan being that I'd go to post with Spike to get my military ID and to start all of the other I'm-Now-A-Military-Spouse paperwork.

I paid extra-special attention to my makeup and curled my hair in preparation for my ID picture. Before you judge me for supposed vanity, let me point out that you'd do the same thing if you'd ever had a photo ID that looked like this:

In my defense, the DMV had a sign above the camera that said "Do Not Smile." I swear.
I carried that  bad boy around for five years because I was too cheap to pay for a new one prior to the expiration date. I can't tell you how many times cashiers, waitresses, TSA employees, etc. told me I looked like was about to murder someone, or just snickered under their breath. The point is, I am determined to look as happy and attractive as possible in all future picture IDs.

Okay, back to our story. Spike and I were headed out the door, ready to take on a mountain of forms and red tape, when he got a text that he'd need to come by his classroom to get some vehicle keys. Essentially, his class is going on a field trip, and he has volunteered to be one of the drivers. I figured we'd just zip into the room, collect the keys, and be on our merry way. Way wrong!

First, we had to wait for all of the drivers (seven of them, I believe), to arrive. As the only non-ACU-wearing person in the room (and a female to boot!) I felt rather out of place. So I did what I always do in such situations--stayed quiet and observed. Here is what I saw:

Sorry for the blurriness--camera phone.

All of the writing on the board is a determined attempt by at least three of the officers to determine how many vehicles were available, how many passengers each held, and how to divide the passengers and drivers between them. Also included was a lively discussion of how much space should be allocated for luggage (it's an overnight trip).

In this situation, I'd probably picture each vehicle in my head and keep a running count of how many people could ride in it, driver included. Then it would be fairly easy to say, "Okay--we have X number of people, and they'll fit into Y number of vehicles. So that's how many drivers we need."

Totally not how the Army does it. They write algebraic-looking things like (4 x 12 seats) (48 x students) in a column, making allowances for the number of vehicles, seats, and students, and then do more arithmetic from there. I was thoroughly confused by something that (in my mind) should have been a reasonably simple exercise in problem-solving. I guess it made sense to them, though! Personally, I felt like I was watching mad scientists work feverishly toward some groundbreaking formula--although Spike informs me this is pretty much the norm in the military. Of course it is! Silly civilian me.

Unfortunately, all of this uber-intense field trip planning knocked Spike and I off-schedule, and by the time we got to the proper office for ID-making, the employees were all gone. We were frustrated since it was still a bit before closing time, but what are you going to do?

"Nobody holds these government employees' feet to the fire!" Spike muttered in awful tones as we walked back to the truck.

"Well, doesn't sound like a bad gig to me if you get to leave half an hour early with no penalties," I mused.

"Yeah," he responded. "I think I'd like to be a lazy government employee when I retire from the Army!"

If he does, I'll try to remember this moment and tease him mercilessly for leaving work half an hour early.

(Also, no offense meant to any government employees who may be reading this! Unless, of course, you're one of the people who left early and caused me to still be ID-less.)

In conclusion--ID and paperwork will have to wait till next week. At least I looked good while watching Army algebra.


  1. Hahahaha, typical Army! My Military ID looks like a WWII document. The blurry black and white scanned photo looks nothing like me.

  2. Yeah, my NC ID looked like that for ages... they finally did away with the no smile thing.. thank goodness!

  3. Welcome to the life of an Army wife! I can't even begin to tell you all the wierd things that have happened to me since I joined the club.

  4. @TheKoenigs: I know--I was so relieved when I went to get my new license this summer. And, of course, the big burly DMV guy who gave me my sign test and vision test laughed at the old license too.

    @Megan: I know...I have a strong feeling that this story was incredibly mild compared to some I'll have in the future.