There are days I really hate being a vet. Let me tell you a story.
I work as the Campus Life editor for my college newspaper. I was brought in midway through the semester to shore up a hole left by a shuffled editorial staff. It wasn’t easy, because for some reason few policies are written and the was little on-the-job training. I was more or less thrown in and told to figure it out as I went. To be fair, it was a turnover year and all of the other editors were new. Also, with the exception of the layout editor and her assistant (the most adorably pregnant person ever), I’m the oldest on staff at 25. My editor-in-chief only turned 19 in October.
Rewind to my military days. I saw very young people do amazing things. 18 and 19 year-old infantrymen stood toe to toe and went blow-for-blow with some of the most experienced guerrillas in the world. I saw recent college grads (the butter bar LTs) shape local politics and heal broken countries. Needless to say, in my world, the exceptional was the norm. It was normal for a kid right out of high school to be dependable and more or less responsible. Many would study, fight, or man their position for long hours with relatively few complaints because they knew others relied on them to do it (also the pay). Because of this, I developed a set of expectations about how people my age can and should act.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t really work for me in the civilian world. Last night (the 14th) was our layout night, when the entire editorial staff meets to print the paper as it should look and make any necessary final edits. Needless to say from the tone above, it left me a little burnt out.
My day began at 0830 that morning for my job as a tutor, and then I went into the paper office at 1600 when I got out of tutoring. I didn’t get home until 0330 this morning. As the night dragged later, the more many of the younger crowd complained. I’m not quite sure why, but it really bothered me. I think it’s because I expected more of them. I was used to young people making commitments (and much larger ones to boot) and seeing them through without having to be reminded that yes, they did in fact sign up for this. Worse still was that many of my colleagues would inadvertently make the night slower by fooling around and distracting those working at the moment. I’m not saying no one is barred from having fun at work, but you shouldn’t complain about a holdup after causing one.
I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to lower my standards. Part of me thinks doing so would make me happier, but at the same time, it would be a great disservice to everyone around me, especially my peers. The reason society sucks so much is the we’re lowering our thresholds for what’s considered acceptable because the normal disseminators of standards–tradition, religion, families–are being altered, warped, or done away with altogether. Maybe I just need to get over it and accept that most people will never live up tithe standards set by my past experiences. I tell you what though, that’s one reason it really sucks being a vet.