The Good and the Bad…..

The Good and the Bad

In 1997 I enlisted in the United States Navy.  I had a sense of pride and patriotism knowing that I was serving my country.  I served my five year contract willingly, completing as much training as I possibly could and serving to train fellow Air Traffic Controllers.

I held the rank of Second Class Petty Officer, middle management of the enlisted personnel.  Everything I did reflected the pride one would find in a lioness making a kill for her cub.  I would spend my shifts either training on various sectors for certification or instructing sometimes up to four different people in a shift on sectors I was already certified on.  I was essential to the operation or, so I thought.

In 2002, I was due for re-enlistment and waiting for my bi-annual evaluation.  I felt confident that with all the hours I put into my work that I would receive the early promote necessary to take the advancement test a year early.  I received one the year before, right after I was promoted to E-5.  I was successful at every advancement test I had taken at that point and was confident the same would be the case after that evaluation cycle.

To my dismay, they did not give me the necessary mark to take the test early.  Instead, they gave it to one of my co-workers they had been grooming for advancement.  I was shocked and devastated.  She did not have all the qualifications I did and was not as active in her duties at the facility as I was.  What I later found out was that the Senior Chief in charge was asking her to participate in extra activities around the base and in her off time.  No invitation was ever extended to me and they made me feel that despite my commitment to my duties and job were applaudable, it just wasn’t enough to justify the early promotion.

I felt deflated like the hot air escaping from a balloon.  The devastation of being unappreciated and lack of recognition left a sour and bitter taste in my mouth.  One of my friends who was a Chief over one part of the air traffic operation tried to offer me more responsibilities only after he found out and heard about the inadequate evaluation.  It was like a pity pitch and I did not appreciate it.

After careful deliberation and encouragement from a friend, I decided to leave the Navy at the end of my enlistment.  I had no promise of a job with the FAA and nothing lined up to secure employment when my term was up.  It was truly terrifying.  When I announced to my superiors that I was getting out at, they begged and pleaded with me not to.  They used scare tactics about being a single mother and not being to get hired with the FAA.  They asked if I would even consider just extending for six months so they could get someone trained to replace me.  I suppose they finally realized just how important my presence was.  I politely refused and refuted all their claims and opportunities to scare me into re-enlisting.  What they did not know was how truly frightened I was.

In retaliation the Chief decided I was to work my final six weeks on straight midnight shifts.  So with a bitter taste in my mouth, I said so long to the NAVY.  Fortunately, I had a few friends that preceded me into the ‘impossible’ FAA that gave me high recommendations when I interviewed with their facility managers.  Within four months of being out of the military, I was hired by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Currently I am in my eighth year of employment making more money than I ever could have imagined possible with no college degree.  As far as the group of Chiefs that jump started my exit from the military, well, they all are retired and scrounging at contract air traffic facilities with no certainty of their futures with no solid job security.  Karma is a bitch.

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