Being a Butterbars…and other absurd activities

Welcome to the next two years of your life.

It’s been exactly a week since I last landed in a new country for a new job without an idea of what my duties would entail. So far, it’s been a heck of a ride.

Things I have learned since arriving in Germany as a new LT:

1) Creepy truckers are in every country.

If your ride happens to have a shredded engine belt, and the car happens to die on the side of the autobahn, and you just happen to be starving and in need of the restroom facilities, it’s okay to walk along the highway. Just expect the truckers to cheerfully honk their approval.

2) Jet lag makes you say and do stupid things.

Like turn down the opportunity to grab some grub before you are trapped in your hotel room, where you will slowly wither away to a husk before your first day of work. Oh, and you’ll probably make a stupid joke to your rating superior, and she will look at you with that oh-crap-my-new-LT-is-mentally-ill look in her eyes.

3) Most Germans speak English. But won’t tell you until you try to speak German.

Three important words for any new person in Germany: Sprechen sie Englisch? If “nein” is their response, you probably are picking on a sweet elderly person who has earned the right to do whatever they want, which probably isn’t going to be giving directions to you.

4) Senior Master Sergeants will scare the bejeezle juice out of you. And it’s okay.

Or at least, they should. Anyone who has twenty plus years in has the right to scare new officers into line. Such as: “LT, as the highest ranking member, you need to be walking on the other side of me. NOW.” Or, “I understand that this is new to you. And I understand that you understand I have high expectations for you. Any questions?”

5) Some Germans really hate the beautiful sound of an F-16 flying over their peaceful hamlets.

And they’ll call to tell you that. There’s one lady, nicknamed the Screamer, who calls the PA office, vents her little heart out in terrifyingly loud German, and then hangs up. We thought it was funny. Then she got the Wing Commander’s personal number. Not so funny anymore.

6) It is paramount to your safety and well-being that you wear a reflective belt over your uniform in times of darkness and inclement weather.

So, basically, all the time. And no, you don’t look stupid. Not at all.

7) Can’t see the rank? Watch for the hand twitch.

And if it doesn’t come, it means you are supposed to salute them. PRONTO. Another sub-lesson: Use the can’t-see-them-same-color-as-your-uniform pin-on ranks only when in a pinch. Sew the darker colored ranks on your blouse. Because if you don’t, no one will salute you, and it is necessary and so very awkward to correct a person fifteen years older than you that you are in fact an officer, not an Airman Basic. SEW THEM ON.

8) Bless the Lord God Baby Jesus for the loan you took out.

Because you need all that moneys you were hoarding. Savings? What’s that? Because that Gortex military jacket you just bought for the many drizzling, grey months ahead just cost you $200. Oh, and German landlords like a buttload of fat deposits. Thank you, loans, for your service.

9) Netflix and Hulu and Pandora are like Walt Disney.

Cyrogenically frozen and inaccessible. Yes, there are ways around the Big Brother of Evil European Internet Oppression, but you will only find this out after you’ve read all your books a billion times and eaten all the Deutsch joghurt in your mini-fridge during your nightly imprisonment in lodging. Because, yes, you could walk around base, but all the buildings look the same, and you get lost and then the rain starts and then an Airman 1C has to drive you back to your hotel, you big bad officer you.

10) Shut your mouth, and learn. Or, in your case, open your mouth, get stuff assigned, and figure it out the hard way.

No one expects anything great from you. Or even good, at that. If fact, sometimes it feels that no one trusts you to even hold open the door for them. But they also expect you to be an officer of the USAF. So, that leaves you to determine how to prove that you aren’t an idiot, and that yes, you can take down the German, NATO, and American flag in a downpour and do it correctly. And yes, you are told you won’t get any assignments for the next few weeks..but then you open your big fat mouth and say something impressive about NPR (your true love), and now you have a multimedia project to do on a fuel spill exercise that might be sent to the Wing Commander. Nbd.

2 Comments to “Being a Butterbars…and other absurd activities”

  1. Well… sounds like you are learning a lot already! 🙂 Thanks for the update, as I was wondering how it was going!
    Love you and praying for you.

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