Drowning in the “A-Pool”

Now that IFS is done, I am back in the “A-Pool,” a sort of limbo where Student Naval Aviators and Student Naval Flight Officers are essentially kept in a tank until they are able to be placed into classes for Aviation Preflight Indoctrination (API). When a class is getting ready to start, they open up the tank and siphon off as many of us as they need.

A-pool used to be a pretty sweet gig. Checking in by phone once or twice a week was all that was required. But, as with all good deals in large organizations, people abused it. Someone got caught thousands of miles away without leave. So now we all have to muster, in person, at 0730 five days a week. Some Ensigns get fished out of the A-pool for “stash jobs” filling menial positions in offices around the base. The common refrain among these is “killlll meeeee.”

Case in point: Today. I showed up at 0730 and fell in with the herd. Two stash Ensigns with clipboards made a couple of announcements. Then comes the critical moment where the one speaking says either “I have A through N” or the other half of the alphabet. The herd of Ensigns then separates itself into two gaggles and begins swarming around the poor guys with clipboads. We muscle in as close as we can and hold up our ID cards until he crosses our names off his list. And that is a day’s work for a commissioned officer, unless they cull out large numbers of bodies for odd jobs around the base which could take an hour or two.

But I wasn’t quite done. I had some leave papers to submit, so I went into the Student Control office, where one stash Ensign helped me fill out the papers and another inspected my car. Finally I went across the hall to the flight management office (the tank-siphoners) and waited in line with a dozen other Ensigns to hand in my leave papers to yet another stash Ensign. Friday morning I will go to the quarterdeck (staffed 24/7 by stash Ensigns) to see if my leave was approved.

So after my long day at the office, I was home at 9. In the morning. Fortunately for me, I’ll be on leave in another week or so and then when I come back I’ll be starting API on May 19. But there are some guys (mostly SNFOs, not pilots) who have been here since November and haven’t started yet. Those guys are hurting from boredom. But, we live in a place with beautiful white sand beaches, so it’s hard to complain about working 7:30-9:00 in the morning.

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