Friday, December 02, 2005

ARCHER is a no-go

Well, it seems ARCHER training just wasn't meant to be for me. I spoke briefly with the office manager at Civil Air Patrol Headquarters a couple of days ago, and she said she would email me travel information. I told her that I needed to leave "as late as possible" on Friday, but since she seemed to be in a huge hurry (and it was long distance), I assumed she would send me some possibilities to choose from via email, and we work out the details that way.

As you've probably heard many times, never assume anything.

She went ahead and booked me on a plane that leaves Phoenix at 11:40 AM -- not exactly what I would call "as late as possible," especially since there were in fact later flights. I had agreed to take over another astronomy faculty member's class on that Friday (the last class meeting), so there is no way I could leave that early. Now, apparently they do things differently in Montgomery, AL, but where I come from you don't book travel for someone without getting their okay that the flight is workable. I called her to let her know that flight wouldn't work for me, and when I finally got her to take my call, she was quite, shall we say, snitty to me. She basically said, "Well, these tickets are bought, there's no way I can change them now, you'll just have to come then." Umm, hello? Civil Air Patrol is an all-volunteer organization. I'm willing to volunteer four days away from my family to further the mission, but I'm not willing to turn my back on my responsiblities just because you didn't have the foresight to check with me before buying that ticket.

Needless to say, I was most annoyed. I kept my squadron commander in the loop (old Navy habits come back to you quickly), and he is totally supportive of me, as was the Arizona Wing Commander when my commander called him. I logged on to and found any number of flights that would work (though I will admit they were now hugely more expensive since there is now less than a week left). I finally talked to the head of the program and another officer this morning, and they basically said that the program is too strapped for cash to fund a ticket change. I respect that. The last thing I want to do is jeopardize the ARCHER program -- I think it is literally the future of Civil Air Patrol. In hopes of finding other solutions, I had arranged with the college administration to get permission to move the final for this class into finals week (through a bizarre twist, this class actually ends a week early), but the catch was that all of the students in the class would have to agree with it, or it couldn't go. Of course, the odds of that happening were pretty small, and in the end that didn't work out.

I emailed the officers involved at lunch withdrawing my name from the program.

Of course, I may can get into a future class, but there's no way for me to know if the schedule will work out any better. I'll still be teaching this same class on Fridays next semester, after all. At this point, I'm not counting on it. I'm disappointed, as you might expect, but there's not much to be done for it. On the positive side, I won't be away from kids (my son's youth group is doing a performance that weekend, so now I don't have to miss it). My participation in CAP is going to decline next semester anyway, since I'll be teaching a night class during squadron meetings. Ah well, things usually have a way of working out for the best.

In writing news, the short story is out the door and on its way. Hopefully I'll be doing the happy dance in another two or three months. We shall see!

No comments: