Friday, August 3, 2012

the DTS

My head has been a little scrambled over the past week.  I’m not sure everything I say makes actual sense or flows in a logical pattern.  As a chaplain, I know that this is one of my signs of stress.  I’m stressed.

I’ve identified my problem.  For those of you who are assuming that said stress is caused by my in-laws coming to town, you are incorrect.  They came with Israeli pickles and babka, not stress.

My stress mostly revolves around a trip that I have been planning off-island.  As my parents and sister will attest, I’ve been working on this for weeks now.  To be honest, I don’t really want to go - but the Marine Corps thinks it important that I attend.  It’s a conference on conducting PREP: a relationship and marriage enhancement workshop (and yes, I am supposed to go to while my in-laws are visiting).  Its part of a program that the USMC put into place to help young couples not get divorced so often.  It’s a good program, but bad timing.

As an officer in the Navy, it is my responsibility as attendee to go online and input all the data for the trip in the Defense Travel System (DTS).  I’m a big boy, and I am responsible for managing my needs.  I freakin’ hate DTS.

[Side note: Marines and their chaplains say the word “freakin” a lot.  The average Marine vocabulary often utilizes words that sound a lot like “freakin” (with similar lexical range), but they do use the PG version, too.]

To be fair, everyone freakin’ hates DTS.  All trips are scheduled in this system: from conferences in Hawaii to meetings at the Pentagon to deployments to Afghanistan.  It’s all the same system.  

Part of the problem is that there is always something wrong.  For example: big red flags came up on my trip request form because I would be crossing the International Dateline.  This requires imputing explanations into the system:  “Correct!  It’s because I live on the freakin’ other side of the freakin’ world!” (I find it is always best to talk to DOD systems in words that they can comprehend).

The other part of the problem (as I see it) is that once you input your information, the disaster of DTS has only just begun.  The process is out of your hands as 15 people review, adjust, approve, reject, or return your authorization.  They might just let it sit in their inboxes for several days, and then return it because a previous person on the chain routed it wrong.  Start again.

Every step of the way for the past weeks has been a nightmare with the system.  Every possible thing that could go wrong, went wrong. As of last night, I was still waiting for a plane ticket to fly out early next week.  Finally, today, after trying for so long, I got a plane ticket.

I’m ready to fly.  I notified my parents.  Called up a couple people who live in the vicinity.   We’re going to make this happen. But who knows if I will go?  A typhoon is supposed to hit Okinawa on Sunday.

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