The Ballad of QA (not quality assurance)

Sgt QA checked in to my shop in 1999 (maybe late 1998, I confess the memory is fuzzy), shortly after we pulled off moving enormous amounts of equipment, and reassembling an entire logistics squadron due to the closure of another base. He checked in at his shop, they took one look at him, decided he was too dumb to hit things with wrenches, and promptly FAPped him out to us.

(This was hardly uncommon. There was no MOS for my shop. It was composed entirely of FAPs.)

He was upset by this, and decided to take it out on as many junior marines as possible, as painfully as possible. We had just moved into beautiful new facilities, which he decided were too nice to actually use, so he ordered all the gear be moved outside to be worked on.

The Gunny quickly figured out that this guy was too dumb for his own good, so he gave him the duties of the HAZMAT NCO.

A 55 gallon drum couldn’t be stored outside at the time, unless it was contained In a permanent spill area. (Rainwater could wash material off the drums, and contaminate groundwater.) Since we didn’t have one, the drums had to go inside. These were unsightly, and took up space in his precious building, so he decided we no longer needed 55-gallon oil drums in the shop. We could use 1-quart jugs for oil changes, like every jiffy lube on the planet.

In case anyone has ever wondered how much oil it takes to do a complete oil and filter change on a 1450 cubic inch diesel, the amount is just over nine gallons.

That’s right, he decided that, rather than pulling a generator up next to an oil drum, pumping 9 gallons of oil into it, wiping it down, and going on our merry way, it was better to fabricate outdoor drip pans (the airframes department wasn’t happy about this), go to base hazmat every time we needed to change oil, get 3 cases of oil, pour them into the various places they needed to be, cap them and take them to be disposed of.

When, after a month of this, I pointed out that productivity was down, our RFI was down (inhibiting our ability to support training operations, much less a war) and costs were up (since we were buying 30-50 cases of quart bottles of oil a month, instead of a pair of 55-gallon drums, I was informed that I hated this idea because QA was black.

That’s right. I didn’t hate his idiotic idea because it was stupid, wasteful, and motivated entirely by a desire to ‘put his name on something’.

I hated his idiotic idea because of the race of the idiot in question.

He was a sergeant, and I was a corporal, which automatically made all his ideas good ones. Therefore, I couldn’t possibly have a legitimate military reason for disagreeing with him. It had to be personal, as he would be more than happy to tell anyone who would ask.

Abandoning million-dollar facilities for fear of getting dirt in them was perfectly logical, as far as he was concerned. What if a general comes to inspect? How much easier will our lives be without having to clean that building? We just move all the equipment in to it, so it looks like we use it, and we come out of it smelling like a rose!

Except for one thing:

There was exactly one person in that shop who actually had a California NREA certification. (I think the name of this certificate has changed since)

Would any of our gentle readers like guess who that person was?

That’s right.

It was the guy that hated Sgt. QAs ideas because he was black.

It had nothing to do with the fact that the exhaust reclamation system was inside the building, or that our shop wasn’t licensed to dispense large quantities (over 5 quarts per engine) of oil from bottles.

Fortunately for me, Sgt. QA had been appointed hazmat NCO in violation of California law (a fact of which they had already been informed) leaving the squadron to pay those bills.

Fear not, gentle reader:

I would pay dearly for the crime of being right.

Submitted by: Billiam201