22 July 2006


I am a SWO. This stands for Senior Watch Officer, and is pronounced just as you would pronounce "swo" if it were a regular word. Swo. Sort of funny, really.
There are three of us swos here at the base, and we work 8-hour shifts. At least, the three who are already here do. They're all leaving next week sometime, and I report to work on Monday morning to shadow a swo for the day and learn the job. I've asked this question--what is my job--several times already, though, and thus far have learned nothing. It's not that the nature of what a swo does is secret in any way. It's that it defies meaningful description. That should make it fun to describe to you. Bob Booker—-who arrived here with all his luggage, lucky bastard—-is not a swo. I don't know what he does, either, but I think he might already have started work.

I mention this now not because I have anything profound to say about it, but because if you are reading this you are probably wondering, what exactly is Smitty doing out there. The answer, of course, is, keep reading. Whatever it is that I do for my eight hours a day here will surely be interesting in the extreme—and if it isn't, I'll make something up.

The amusing thing about this is that, when I inquired as to whether I should go to work on Sunday, I was told, no. I know you're chomping at the bit to get started, said the guy I've been talking to, but you should take advantage of the lull while you have it.

I'm not really chomping at the bit to get started (is it chomping or champing? Or chafing?). I didn't say anything, but I was thinking about it later as I wandered back to my tent to read for a bit this afternoon. I don't really have any particular desire to start work. I'd be happy not to work at all here, but I'd feel bad about it. I was hit with the realization this afternoon that I don't actually work to make a living. If the AF didn't pay me I wouldn't work. I don't work in order to get paid; I work because I'm getting paid. This explains why I'm not usually the first volunteer for any particular additional duty at work. This may explain why I'm not keen on looking for a new job when I get out of the service. If I don't get a job, nobody will pay me. And if nobody's paying me, I'll have no guilt at all about sleeping until noon and not doing anything.

Which is precisely what I plan to do tomorrow.

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