Wednesday, August 22, 2012

That Guy: Issue #1

Everybody knows That Guy: he's the guy in your unit that you avoid at all costs for a variety of reasons. Maybe he's the smelly kid, a dirtbag Soldier, the guy with UCMJ action pending or something else from a long list of possibilities. This is That Guy: Dirtbag Admin NCO edition.

That Guy has been in the battalion for a long time, working in the S6 (Communications) shop at the battalion level as an IT Administrator. On the Iraq deployment, he sat in a cushy office somewhere fixing computer problems until he got an IA violation so bad that he got demoted from CPL to PFC and sent home early. That Guy came to our company, literally, on the last day before the deployment. We were at the armory packing supplies and equipment when he walked in the door. He had signed his DESP at the last minute and his slot in the S6 had already been filled, so he was cross trained for two weeks prior as an 11B and then sent to us. That Guy was assigned to the CoIST because there was no room for him anywhere else. He was shy at first, not having been to the CoIST schoolhouse, and seemed content to hang back and watch us work for awhile.

At the double AT prior to our mobilization, he mostly sat in the back of whatever room we had occupied, smoking cigarettes and surfing the Internet on his tablet PC. At first I thought, well, he doesn't know what he's doing and there are 6 of us, so no big deal. Once we got to the mobilization station, That Guy really started to shitbag out: he never did PT with us and usually spent his free time playing World of Warcraft on his computer (hooked up to the Internet via tether from his cell phone). That Guy is also incredibly messy, leaving a trail of filth and garbage in his wake like Pig Pen from Charlie Brown. That Guy went to phase 1 of OCS but got dropped because he got kicked out of college. That Guy also believes that because he used to be a Corporal, he can talk to NCOs and Officers like he is an NCO, which results in a lot of conflict. That Guy is a radical Republican whose views are so extreme that he clashes with almost everyone in the company. Within the first few days of our mobilization, That Guy alienates himself from our FET (Female Engagement Team) by talking trash about women serving in the military. He constantly makes extremely racist jokes towards our black platoon leaders, despite being a minority himself. He insists that since he was adopted by white parents, he is white. At NTC, That Guy sleeps on the floor on the CP at night instead of working with me. That Guy attends the CoIST mobile schoolhouse at NTC and suddenly becomes an expert in everything related to military intelligence, slowly alienating himself from the rest of the team. He is chosen for ADVON to Afghanistan with the commander and leaves such a mess in the barracks at the mobilization site that it takes the rest of us two days to clean up all the garbage he has left behind.

Arriving in Afghanistan, we find That Guy working in the CP as the admin NCO. Our admin NCO went home during mobilization to command the rear detachment when the order came down to cut the brigade in half. He was hard working, passionate about fixing soldier issues and relentless in getting things done. That Guy is nothing like our actual admin NCO. He is appointed by the commander to handle the day to day admin issues while the First Sergeant is en route into country. He sits at his desk and chain smokes e-cigarettes (he's South Korean) all day, playing World of Warcraft on a satellite he has already bought and set up as a wireless network. He takes University of Phoenix classes online. When Soldiers come in with pay issues, personnel issues, promotion issues or whatever else, That Guy is supposed to help them. Instead, he puts their paperwork into a manila folder behind his desk and goes back to playing World of Warcraft. He completes small tasks given to him by the commander and First Sergeant, just enough to stay off their radar. Whenever he is severely cornered, he throws down the racist card, despite insisting that is he white and not Asian any other time. He sneaks out of work here and there to comb the FOB for any "spare" equipment or supplies people may have left out.

Despite being a staunch Republican, ranting about fiscal conservatism and government waste to anyone that accidentally starts talking about politics with him, That Guy believes that anything on the FOB that isn't bolted down is fair game to steal and mail home to sell on eBay. Over the course of the deployment, instead of helping Soldiers fix their pay, correct their promotion points or get help with another issues, That Guy mails home toughbox after toughbox of government property. Chemlights, lanterns, tube lights, flex cuffs, old uniforms, extra sleeping bags are just some of the items that go missing from around the FOB. I don't really care one way or the other but after awhile, I say something to the First Sergeant who says it's more work than it's worth to curb his sticky hands. The stuff That Guy is stealing isn't technically on the property books and getting any sort of action done against him would be a pain in the ass, possibly falling through anyways. That Guy reveals he is stealing all this stuff to mail home to his parents (he is 30 and lives at home) to sell at the Army surplus store for him because he owes the government $30,000 in back taxes for some "small" tax fraud he committed. He claimed all of his roommates on his taxes as his dependents for 3 years in college. Whoops.

That Guy is put in charge of a MWR Satellite system with 6 laptops and 2 phones to be set up in our back room for the guys in the company to use. He immediately takes one laptop for himself back to his desk so that he can surf the Internet all day without paying for his own satellite. He half ass sets the computers up, not installing any of the programs the guys request to call/video chat back home. Two of the laptops need repaired and despite his primary MOS being in IT, he throws them in a box under his desk for most of the deployment.

Things go on like this for months until our commander gets promoted and we get a new commander. The new commander is from a COP where he spent most of the deployment cold and starving. He is a nice family type of guy but he also doesn't take any shit and expects a lot out of his men. That Guy is immediately shit canned. Stacks and stacks of school certificates, pay stubs and other paperwork are found in That Guy's desk drawer that never got actioned. The new commander tasks me with That Guy's workload and I get caught up after three weeks. I've never seen Soldiers so happy: one guy walked into the CP with a pay stub for $1500 in back pay and I would have thought he had won the lottery by how excited he was. In less than a month, I've made our poor unit from Detroit into thousandaires. Promotion points are finally updated for everyone that went to schools during mobilization or completed correspondence courses while we've been over here. Despite not knowing a single thing about IT work, I repair the two broken MWR laptops and re-image all 6 to have all the programs the guys want to use to communicate with their families. Instead of a bunch of people waiting to use 3 laptops, there is now usually no waiting for one of the six computers. In contrast to my work, That Guy spends the last two months of our deployment sitting in his tent all day chain smoking and playing World of Warcraft which seems like a reward instead of a punishment, but everyone agrees that is better than having him in charge of the company's paperwork.

A few days before That Guy redeploys early, we get a phone call that he mailed home a bunch of full magazines of ammunition through the Post Office which was caught while being x-rayed on the way out of country. We are all eagerly awaiting to see what sort of punishment awaits That Guy back home. My gut tells me nothing will happen, but I am hopeful.


  1. I hope your actions in squaring shit away get rewarded officially. One thing I think you overlooked is that there is an opposite to "That Guy" and it is "My Guy". Now when someone needs something done normally FUBARed by That Guy, they'll ask who to go to and be told that "My Guy" will hook you up.

  2. The unfortunate side effect of working in admin is seeing all the traffic regarding stuff like awards. 99% of the people in the battalion will go home with no awards except for their Afghan Campaign Medal and ISAF Medal. Most were recommended for AAMs or ARCOMs by their leadership which were downgraded or dismissed at the battalion level. A few E-5's/E-6's got ARCOMs. E-7 and above all got BSMs.

  3. I read through this with increasing horror, thinking it would end with a description of your punishment after beating That Guy to a pulp. I'm glad it had a happy ending, though I'm sorry it meant more work for you. I guess if you want something done right...

    I'm not military so I can't relate to how typical this story is there, but I can tell you this is extremely common in the business world. People in a big office playing WoW may not be typical, but spending all day on Facebook/Twitter/news certainly is. Worthless turds camp out in comfortable positions inside the corporate structure for DECADES, hiding behind office politics, sabotaging their cow-orkers, accomplishing nothing themselves, sucking value out of the company like white collar vampires and nothing EVER happens. The boss either doesn't notice, doesn't care or is too scared of a lawsuit to do anything. (Or there's an affair involved.) Everyone else is forced to work around the roadblock, often watching them take credit for hard work, just so something will get done. Sometimes a big downsizing will come through and they can clean house without getting sued but often those processes require laying off by seniority, not value.

    I got to see this in action right after college when I got a job in a big corporation. I lasted one year and swore I'd never work for big business again. In a small company, the risks are higher and the hours are longer but there's no room for slacking and higher job satisfaction. Plus, I've never had to attend another 4 hour meeting. :)