I have a particular job that requires a watchbill. It is pretty standard in the military, making a watchbill and rotating folks in every four days, every eight days, every month, or every six weeks. It depends on the watch.
Ours is simple. The watchbill coordinator is in charge of making sure everyone on the bill is qualified and no one who has left the command is put up for watch. When I started this particular job, a Chief became my new watchbill coordinator. No problem, right? He’d stood watch for years of his life, no doubt.
Bottom line up front, he was a disaster. Every time he told me the watchbill was good to go, there were people who were long gone from the command on it. He put un-qualled people up for watch. Mistakes that I pointed out to him went uncorrected.
One day, I had it. I complained to the Senior Chief who used to sit near me.
Well, have you told him? He thinks he is doing fine, she said.
Yes, every time it is jacked up, which is always, I tell him. Last month, I scrapped what he did and made up a fresh watchbill myself.
I’ll talk to him.
A month goes by and he emailed me to tell me the new watchbill was ready. Looking forward to a mistake-free bill, my hopes were crushed within ten seconds. Officers and Chiefs no longer at the command were on it. And I go over to his desk in person and point out the mistakes.
I complained again to the Senior Chief. All jacked up, like usual.
He is having problems. He got back from his IA in Afghanistan and may have some issues.
I am not hard to please. It is an easy job. I’ve written hundreds of them. Just get it right.
He may not be the guy.
Just my luck, a Marine Corps Master Sergeant checks into the command. Me and the Lieutenant Commander, who I work for, strike a deal with him. You don’t even have to qual for this watch. Can you do a watchbill?
He looks at us like two kids. Watchbill? Of course.
One year later and not one mistake. Great guy. Quiet perfection. Just today, I am at his desk talking about the watch, the folks ready to qual, and the great gun sales at Turner’s Outdoorsman. Above his cubicle is a box of vitamins. And the label says something like: Supplements for Military Personnel.
Well, that is kind of goofy, Master Sergeant. Do we really need specialized vitamins?
Um sir, see the model on there? The one in the wheelchair?
That is the Captain’s wife. He nods to the desk next to us. She is combat disabled.
Good thing the Captain is not here.
And the final story goes to the Chief who jacked-up the watchbill to begin with. Just yesterday, the Senior Chief invited six of us to have lunch in the Chief’s Mess. I’ve been in there a couple of times and have always enjoyed it. We get in the Goat Locker and the Chief who I wanted to strangle is in there all alone, just staring at TMZ on the teevee.
I’m glad the Master Sergeant came to the command. I would’ve strangled Chief by now.