The Perils of "Becoming" Your Job


One thing about military jobs that we can always count on is how much the active duty member will "become" their jobs.  To a certain extent it's inevitable.  There's a great deal of lingo involved and it doesn't stay in the office.  We live and work with the same people, particularly if we live on base.  Mandatory fun like barbecues and family days further blur the line between work and home.

My first experience with my husband becoming his job happened in the mid-nineties, just before he left his armor unit and entered a college AFROTC program.  My husband could no longer navigate his way out of a driveway, much less get from point A to the 300 miles away point B.

It seems the man was not cut out to be a navigator.  There was someone else driving his tank, that had nothing to do with him.  When he did have to pull driving duty in a HMMWV, the much higher ranking officer sitting next to him (and at that time, everyone was higher ranking than hubby) would tell him where to go.  We used to tease him about the armor burst patch on his uniform, describing it as "twelve lieutenants going north." 

As hubby's military career progressed, his navigation skills got worse and worse.  A watch officer doesn't need to find anything that can't be placed on PowerPoint slides.  His later jobs involved talking to people, not finding them.  As hubby would sometimes describe it, he was exercising his "higher order thinking" portion of the brain.  And my duties as passenger/navigator slowly increased.  This was to the great consternation of my husband, who began to feel like his mental abilities were slowly slipping away.  He sometimes felt the need to illustrate his extensive training in the matter.

Me:  Turn left at McDonalds, hon.

Hubby:  Are you kidding?  Where are you trying to get me?

Me:  Home.

Hubby:  Home?  We don't turn at McDonalds to get home!  We turn a little further on! 

Me:  Really, hon, we need to turn at McDonalds.

Hubby:  Don't tell me where to turn!  I've taken more land navigation courses than you could count on all your fingers and toes!  I think I know how to get to a place we've lived for over a year! 

Five miles further down the road, hubby would admit that, yes indeed we should have turned at the McDonalds.  But not without first amending the admission by saying, "It's that construction - it threw me off."

Hubby's problem with directions was compounded by the fact that he excels at combat driving.  More often than not he was behind the wheel as they went on their missions.  His driving skills combined with his horrendous sense of direction and the situations they ended up in is the stuff of legends.

This last week proved to be the final straw for hubby's directional skills - he now has a Garmon Navigational system to make sure he gets where he needs to go.  There's only one problem - he second guesses the directions.

Garmon:  Turn right in .5 miles

Garmon:  Turn right now

Hubby passes the turn

Garmon:  recalculating route

Me:  You missed the turn!

Hubby:  I think I know a better way.

I fear for the future.

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