Awhile ago there were some rumblings in my husband's squadron for a volunteer from the dependent ranks. There were little hints, some talk, my husband brought it up a few times, nods were made. Eventually I volunteered. My common sense must have been broken.
In order to do this particular volunteer job I need a few things. A special piece of paper, a few training classes, communication with certain people, and good, correct, information.
My first problem was meeting the person I need to work closely with. I met him (twice). We talked. Then the next day I saw him again. When my husband asked if we had been introduced this person said "no, we haven't met." Grr.
My second problem was the person who promised me to get the piece of paper had to PCS out. She did not leave information to anyone else who could get the paper. Grr.
Now classes. I was informed (the first day I volunteered) that the most important class I needed would be on October 7th. I got a babysitter (actually I begged a babysitter to skip her other weekly job and come hang out with Emily). I got the kid up extra early. I got down to base. I showed up early and prepared. The class had been rescheduled. For October 5th. No one was contacted about the change. Grr.
Finally, I wrote to the person in charge and politely asked for information about when another class would be, how I could be informed of changes, what else I needed to do, etc. There might have been a passing remark about me showing up on the wrong day because there was no communication, but it was really, really polite.
A week later I got an email stating that 1) This person needed the piece of paper not the person who has it (no information). 2) The class they told me to go to wasn't even the class I needed to go to. 3) There were three other classes I also needed and I had to sign up for them at a completely different place (no information). Grr.
Today I found out that those classes are 1) Actually not being offered on the day stated, or, you know, at all. And you can't sign up for them at the place I was told to sign up for them. Also, the person in charge is on vacation, but the receptionist was happy to send me to her line over and over without actually telling me that she wouldn't be answering it anytime soon. Grr.
What I did not get in any of this was anyone saying "Hey, sorry you had the wrong information." What I did not get was "Hey, sorry you had to get a babysitter when you didn't need to pay for one." What I did not get was "Oh, I understand you might be frustrated, but here is what you really need to know." What I didn't get was an email that was written in a polite and/or welcoming manner. I got fussed at. Treated like I was dumb. And no apology of any kind. I got a whole lot of nothing. And a big babysitter bill.
Everything above is typical of my military-wife experiences with two different branches of service. Almost all of it is completely understandable. A volunteer isn't a priority, though it sure helps and looks good one someone's EPR. The people involved meet hundreds of people a day, it is not easy to remember them all. They read thousands of emails a week. They write thousands of pieces of paper. They have a hundred balls in the air and things need to be prioritized. I am okay with all of that. I totally understand that I'm the one that needs to be on top of it. I understand that I need to call often to get updated information and be ready to move when a free moment is available. I'm okay with my stuff not being important.
What I am not okay with is when someone else drops the ball, give bad info, or just forgets to be polite. What I am not okay with is this lack of customer service happening in the service section of the military. The are called Services, they work in the Service Center, and everyone of them makes me feel as though I'm asking a huge favor to ask them to perform their specific service.
I know there is a huge fear of admitting that something was done improperly in the military-civilian world. No one wants to admit fault, just in case it comes back at them. Fine. I don't expect anyone to say it was their fault. I do expect them to acknowledge that while it wasn't their fault that I have been bounced from one place to another and given nothing but poor information, it must be pretty frustrating that it happened that way. Because it has. And I'm a person. And I get frustrated. Because I'm a person.
I'd like them to acknowledge that I am, you know, a person. Just like them. And they won't. Ever.