Irony, Managerial Stupidity, and You

People are deserting this place in droves for better pastures. One of the guys was asked by the Project Manager why he was leaving. Obviously, he gave a placating answer. But the question that should be asked, is why would you stay?

Let’s take time off as an example. There will be irony involved, and it will be good. As it stands now we are not allowed to take LWOP, or Leave WithOut Pay. This is the entity formerly known as MWR, which was a 3 day timeout in Tashkent. This was later extended to 4 days, but turned off altogether only two months later. What that means is that you get your time off once every four months. Three months is quite long enough, and that’s about the time everyone starts to really go downhill. You get paid for 10 days at 8 hours a day. Of course, we work 12 hours a day, so you really get paid for only 6 2/3rds days. Previously the stated limit was you could take 13 days, or 21 at contract end. They decided to up the free time, not costing the company anything, to 16 days…even though people were already taking more than that. As long as your supervisor approved it, up to 30 days is possible. So they take time from you, officially add support for something less than what was already being done, and pretend to have given you something. They also took away what I called my Tashkent Days. I’d plan R&R and adjust dates so that 2-4 days on either side of the R&R were in Tashkent. This did not add to the total, just reduced days wherever I was going. It’s good for decompression. You can no longer do that.

Now here’s the irony: everywhere else, you can get LWOP. You can go wherever you want. You can take a week or two weeks even. R&Rs up to 30 days, no problem. Hell, in Djibouti they can go out to town every night. In Kuwait and Iraq, the base pay and danger pay is higher. I could go there, make more money, and if I wanted to, I could spend 5-6 weeks out of every 4 months here in Uzbekistan! Contrast that with 2 days every 4 months if I work for KBR here in Karshi, where we are restricted to base. It’s nuts. So guys with Tashkent girlfriends are better off working out of the country than in it!

Eventually you will see the final straw for some people when Kabul airport opens fully. It is open now, however for whatever reason, we don’t utilize it except for the occasional charter flight. All the people who work here currently fly in to Tashkent, fly down to Karshi, and from there catch a milair flight down to Afghanistan. That’s where the majority of people work. If they work in the Kabul sites, they fly milair to Bagram, and then have to wait for a Kabul convoy, which currently runs two times a week. The grand plan is to turn off Tashkent completely when Kabul goes mainstream. This will of course be a pain in the ass for those who work in Uzbekistan.

The PM in charge has safety as his main concern of course. That’s the safety of his own career. Rolling Eyes While I understand some of it, he seems to have no idea he’s the cause of a mass exodus. I suspect he has his family kept prisoner in their house so they don’t get hurt. I saw a funny email from him once. Someone in Houston had some absurd suggestion (regarding what, I do not recall) and his comment was that “these guys are living in fantasyland.” It was funny because it was completely and totally true. It was also funny because so is he. He’s clueless enough not to realize that not caring when people leave doesn’t encourage anyone to stay. Usually, small but real gestures make a huge difference in retention.

But I guess that’s really sadder than it is funny.

I figure I have three options for escape (make that four):
• Iraq – hey it’s where the cash is. Aside from metal bits, it’s an easy front-runner, and by far the simplest to accomplish.
• Another contractor on base with less restrictions. Not sure if the pay will still be productive enough for that to be useful. I don’t want to extend my return timeframe too long. I still want to be able to buy a house, paid in full with cash when I come back.
• Find another job in Uzbekistan or Russia…or someplace. This is harder since it stretches my contact network a bit far. Obviously I would be picky, since working at Uzbek rate would be impractical. $300 a month is good to shoot for to them. That would extend the return to approximately never. Smile
• Just say “fuck it” and call it a day. (Uhh…NO.)

As for me and Tashkent…I think the great Ronnie James Dio may have said it best when he crooned so sweetly the immortal phrase….

The only way
to really stay
is to walk right out the door!

2 Responses to “Irony, Managerial Stupidity, and You”

  1. Imported Comments Says:

    From eagl:

    Working in Iraq… I’m not sure any salary would be high enough for me to go there as a civilian. I read a comprehensive poll taken in Iraq and (IIRC) it said that although some 80+% of Iraqis would not personally consider attacks on Americans, in excess of 30% said it is “ok” for other Iraqis to attack US military personnel AND civilian workers from any country. The number of people who said it is ok to attack foreign civilians was within 10% of the number who said it’s ok to attack US troops.

    I agree 100% with you… 4 months is too long. We tend to start going bonkers after about 45 days and 90 days is our “standard” deployment. 120 days or longer would probably ruin productivity.

    Speaking of productivity… You could innocently suggest that “some people” are not working full hours, and recomment that everyone start logging their hours for official review. Then you’ll either be able to try to limit your work to what you’re actually getting paid for, or use the excess hours as ammunition in benefit talks with the moron managers. Or try to get overtime :)

  2. Robert Says:

    Neg Eagl, hours is hours. There is overtime when necessary, but generally speaking I can’t justify it. It makes minimal difference anyway. I was referring to productivity as “a move that makes me noticably more cash or increases time off at the same cash.” I have no issue sacrificing today for tomorrow but it needs to be worthwhile in one of those two fashions. I simply don’t want to live like this forever. I could come back tomorrow if I decided that was necessary, but I simply have things I want to accomplish first.

    As for the whole danger thing, it just really doesn’t bother me. The guys that have to worry about that are truck drivers mainly. It’s all tradeoffs though.

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