As you may have noticed, it’s now the ninth—the date by which I would be leaving, unless I didn’t. Looks like we’ve opted for the latter of those two choices, I’m afraid. In fairness, there are still over fourteen hours left today, so I suppose a call isn’t out of the question, but I’m not holding my breath. This is, I think, for the best. Were I to hold my breath for fourteen hours, I probably wouldn’t be going much of anywhere afterwards, no matter what they told me.
My bosses still maintain that I’m likely to make it to the training places before the end of the year, but I find this highly unlikely. I need a week of training in one location, and two in another. Since I probably won’t be starting tomorrow, that means that the earliest I’d be able to start would be the seventeenth of December. I’m guessing that none of their instructors want to work through Christmas, but it could still get scheduled in a way to put a crimp in my vacation plans—so everything remains tentative. It’s very annoying.
It’s not entirely true to say that I haven’t learned anything about the trip. I’ve learned a number of exciting things! It’s just that none of them have to do with when I might be leaving. One of the more interesting things I’ve discovered is that my coworker who was put in charge of organizing this whole thing is, as far as I can tell, actively attempting to sabotage it. Given that I quite like the guy, I assume that this is part of my anti-terrorism training. I’m being taught to trust no one, no matter how well I think I know them.
My co-worker had assured me on multiple occasions that all of the medical tests I needed would be done through the Army, and that not only did I not need to go get anything done, but that the Army would not accept anything from outside sources, and would simply redo it. In a recent conversation with our mutual boss, however, it seems that my co-worker was not entirely correct in this. Rather than not having to get anything checked, he meant to say that I needed to get everything checked. This includes a full physical, a complete dental checkup with X-ray and signed forms, HIV testing, TB testing, a DNA sample—in case they need to clone me, I suppose—and over a dozen immunizations, including the flu, tetanus, measles, polio, typhoid, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis, anthrax and smallpox. A minor thing, really. I can see how he’d forget to mention it.
Meanwhile, other parts of this procedure have started to resemble excerpts from Catch-22. No one seems to know what anything means, or what it’s for. Our security officer stuck his head in my door yesterday to tell me that he’d just gotten a call from some of the Army folks wanting to know why I didn’t have a polka secret clearance. I swear that’s what he said, although as I’m sure it’s an acronym, it’s possibly not how it’s actually spelled. Seems my secret clearance was stamped with another acronym, and the polka folks didn’t like it. After the better part of an hour on the phone, our security officer discovered that this was the acronym for the agency that runs the polka office—meaning that I did have the correct clearance, but the people whose job is to check the clearances don’t know the name of their department. We had to inform them, as I suppose checking their paystubs would have been too much work.
There’s a better one, though. After much travail, I was finally approved to go get a piece of identification that I needed before I could begin my training—but when we called to set up an appointment to get this ID, we were told that they couldn’t issue that ID to anyone without a training completion certificate. Clever, yes? Can’t get the training without the ID, can’t get the ID without the training. I believe that the current plan involves getting a sheet of psychic paper and bluffing my way in. I’ll keep you all posted on how that works out.
So, as before, I’ve used quite a lot of words to keep you up to date on exactly how much information I do not have. Like me, you still know nothing, but you know it in such great detail! If you squint your eyes just right, it’s almost like being informed.