27 July, 2006

At the USO Again

I wasn't even supposed to be at the USO yesterday, but I think may turn out to be providential that I was--for several reasons. I did a typical airhead thing and kept thinking yesterday was the 27th, not the 26th, and thus drove all the way down there. Once I arrived I figured I could hang around and learn by observation, and I did.

I stayed for a bit after my shift ended at 6:00 (to avoid traffic). The final shift volunteers included a retired navy NCO of rather elevated grade. However, one could be forgiven for thinking he'd never retired, haha!

As soon as he was informed I was "trainee," his eyes lit up and he set to work instructing me in exactly how he did things. I bit my tongue when he assumed I didn't have a clue. But as he continued, I started completing his sentences and echoing back what he said to me with different vocabulary. For example, "So ________ is the same as __________, right?" or "That's also called ___________, yes?" He also watched me interact with some of the people who walked in and saw that I had some basic military-related knowledge and competencies. His expression began to change and he started to do more than give me directives and unnecessary instructions.

He loves (and I do mean loves) charts and graphs. He asked me to make up a chart for him to use for keeping track of various things we needed to do for visitors. When he saw the Excel command shortcuts I knew, I definitely had his attention: "How did you do that?" he demanded, then studiously attended as I showed him new things about his favorite software program (Excel).

Within an hour he was questioning me about my background and how I ended up working at the USO, etc. I told him about Valour-IT and how I'd been doing "troop support" things from the other side of a computer screen for years, but now that I'd recently moved here I could do things with more direct interaction.

I told him of my frustrations at trying to volunteer with the wounded, but being almost entirely rebuffed because I was not military-related. He was not happy to hear that I was running into roadblocks and literally started to pick up the phone before he realized what time it was.

The upshot is that he has the ear of (among others) a very bigwig at the Navy hospital. Our discussion started with merely my desire to volunteer, but as we talked he started making references to employment. He has asked for Valour-IT info, my contact info, my resume, and a bio to share.

This guy is a force of nature. He gets things done. Period.

Now, finding a job is all about networking, isn't it...? ;)