Since Matt joined the State Department in 2000, we have been blessed with having ...
1 domestic move, 4 international moves, 1 unaccompanied move, 2 layette shipments, 2 consumable shipments, 1 medevac, and have taken advantage of shipping our UAB (unaccompanied air baggage) 9 out of 12 times during our official moves from ...
- Los Angeles to New Jersey (2000)
- New Jersey to Muscat, Oman (2003)
- Muscat, Oman to Los Angeles (2005)
- Los Angeles to Washington, DC (2005)
- Washington, DC to Tel Aviv, Israel (2005)
- Tel Aviv, Israel to Los Angeles (2008)
- Los Angeles to Washington, DC (2008)
- Washington, DC to Chennai, India (2008)
- Chennai, India to Los Angeles (2009)
- Los Angeles to Chennai, India (2009)
- Chennai, India to Los Angeles (2010)
- Los Angeles to Baghdad, Iraq (2010)
HOWEVER, with all of these official moves, not ONCE - NOT ONCE - have his travel orders been correct.
The first time it really affected us was when we departed Muscat, Oman and our orders were so royally screwed up that we left there without them. And in their place? A signed affidavit stating that should we not follow the impending orders, we'd reimburse the USG any monies potentially owed. Yeah ... that was fun.
Due to travel order mishaps, we've since had shipments that didn't make their destination on time, shipments that were ruined, issues with weight (thankfully not mine ...), storage problems, and unbelievable airline quagmires. Most of these have been handled with relative ease either at post or with someone who saw a rant or rave on the USG listserv group in which I belong. As a now-seasoned spouse, I can usually roll with the punches.
That is ... with everything except our travel orders. Not a transfer season, a medevac, a consumable shipment has passed without my blood pressure rising, and a nasty gram sent off. I can usually handle the HR tech's incompetence for the first set of orders. They're never on time, and never correct. By the second, she's probably just overlooked an email or a code. But by the third, and inevitably the fourth, of which I expect to happen by now, I lose my cookies. My alter ego, angry Jill, rears her ugly head, and I quickly move up the chain of command, and send off an email to the head of the entire HR department at State. Whose name, email, and phone number will forever be saved in my address book.
Why oh why does it ALWAYS appear that every transfer season it's as if they're doing this for the first time?
The best part of all of this? Is that usually, this all happens just before Matt leaves on a business trip, a vacation, or a training. See where I'm going with this? As in, one day prior to his departure for his last R&R? Oh yes ... rejected travel orders ... due to a mistake that could have been avoided if his HR tech actually answered his email to her ... about 3 weeks ago.
However, this time I'm not worried about airline tickets, or my California pack-out, Matt's air shipment either. The orders will be amended perfectly in time to get that all squared away. The issue this time is that the orders won't be completed until Matt gets back to Iraq at the end of May, which will delay the shipment to Virginia of our stuff in storage in Belgium. Which is a big deal considering how long I'll potentially be living in a hotel. The stuff at ELSO contains all our dishes, our towels, sheets, furniture, kids toys ... and without it, will keep me hotel bound until its arrival. Which takes approximately two months. Maybe longer during the summer transfer season.
I'm frustrated. I'm perturbed. I'm irked.
However, I know that it'll eventually all be worked out. These mistakes have sadly become the norm. Which is why we manage our expectations by working on things so darn early. To account for the time it takes to fix them. All three, four, and five times. In fact, once we get to Virginia, I'll probably start the process for our next move. Several years early. Just to be on the safe side.
The one positive? I don't think I'll ever see a retirement party as big and bold as the one that will be thrown for this HR tech when she finally does decide to retire. Heck, if it helped move things along, I'd offer to throw it myself...