Was up a bit earlier than usual this morning – Getting into the Pentagon as a civilian is a much more involved process than when one is in uniform. If you’re assigned there (shudder), you get a permanent badge / pass that allows you through security pretty quickly, but even if you’re only there on TDY (Temporary Duty), you just sign for a visitor’s pass that’s good for the duration of your stay.
Since 9/11, though, as a civilian (and once you retire from the army, trust me, they look at you like a civilian), there’s a long, drawn-out, PITA of a process involving waiting on your COR and sponsor to fill out the requisite paperwork for a visitor’s badge, having one’s picture taken, waiting on the badge to be created, listening to a stern five-minute warning regarding which areas are off limits (which depends on what you’re there for), then signing in and running your visitor’s badge through an ATM-like machine.
That’s just day one – On subsequent days there is a separate security process for permanent staff / TDY and dirty, filthy civilians, and it takes forever to get in the building, You would think that after twenty years of working on various projects here on and off I’d have a map of the building burned on the back of my eyeballs, but offices are constantly moving from one ring to the next (for pure aggravation’s sake, I’m certain), so a new map must be obtained on each visit…And like most military maps these are an absolute horror. I’ve found the best thing to do is to grab the first senior NCO or Chief Warrant and simply ask “excuse me, but could you direct me to this f****** place before I shoot myself?” Addressing them in this manner lets them know you’re prior service / retired, and they delight in torturing you (since now they can), but they’ll get you where you’re going.
The food court is an enormous temptation, but the line to merely get a bowl of cereal is so long it isn’t worth it – Besides, if you eat breakfast at the hotel it doesn’t count towards per diem, since there’s no receipt.
I’ve already run into two former soldiers of mine, one now a Major and the other a Lieutenant Colonel, and they’ve given me the skinny on who’s working here and where, so evenings will be busy with libations and TINS (“This is no s***”) tales with old friends, which will ease the burden of getting my a** chewed up and down until next Wednesday, when I’ll fly home.
I shall describe to you the day’s first a** chewing a bit later. Have a better day than me, please.