Once upon a time, so many years ago it’s sometimes easier to forget than it is to remember. There was a boy. For the purpose of this story, I’ll call him… me.
I was early in the Air Force, and, as has been the truth with so many parts of my life, I did not fit in. While the other maintenance guys were part of their personal ‘club’ I was not. So when it came time for any ‘extra’ job, I was the one who was picked. “Ice!” They’d say “We need someone to work nights!” so I did. And I’d go to school while the rest of the guys had their parties.
When an opening came up for the “End of the Runway” job, it was considered a “nonner” because the people who did that work weren’t actually maintenance guys, they did ‘non maintenance work” and with their buddy system, picking a ‘volunteer’ to go to the end of the runway position was easy. It was also very easy to feel unwanted, because that’s generally what an outcast is.
So I was outcast to the End of the Runway, and while I went to college, I had to work this job that, on a bad day, lasted about six hours. That’s six fewer hours than I was used to working as a maintenance guy. I honestly didn’t mind being at the end of the runway. But after a year of that schedule they needed another ‘volunteer’ to go work in an inspection support office. As you can imagine, they knew exactly who to pick… and once again I was picked on.
I worked this job that was not pushing a jet, as I had done before, now it was pushing a desk. There was a lot of time at work to do home work from school, but by this time I already had my Bachelors and Associates degree. Education came easy in the Air Force. I worked as a Safety guy, as assistant to the assistant of the Safety guy. So whenever an unsavory job came up. They had someone already picked for that.
When the weekend safety briefings had to be given, I was picked for that too. I recall very specifically one day, while speaking in front of these work acquaintances of mine, I realized that there were probably twenty people there, and like the pop of a seal I realized I could speak to large groups without getting nervous.
There was a weekly meeting with several of the commanders on the base where they talked about hazardous waste, and safety projects. I was picked to attend. At the meeting they were looking for someone to lead projects about safety and hazardous waste removal across the base. Though I was still just a kid… I was picked to do this. And when they had a hazardous waste conference … I, like a terrible person, forgot to tell the other two safety guys about it. Being the only face the commanders knew for the Safety program in that section, I was picked to attend. When they were looking for someone with some accomplishments to parade, I was picked for that too.
Now, I think back, as I’m picked on for another national level, high budget, special project and I wonder, only briefly, what ever happened to those who never were picked on.