Monday, February 20, 2012

The Price of Other's Success

As a supervisor, one of my most rewarding roles is in helping those under my charge to reach their full potential.  Sure, they do all of the hard work, but sometimes I can offer some mentoring, guidance, or at least try to take care of them when it comes to putting in a well-deserved awards package or crafting their annual evaluation report.

In the past I have found my attempts at getting my charges recognized to be less than successful, but this year I finally got the pleasure of having one of my senior non-commissioned officers (or SNCO as we call it in the miliary, since we love acronyms) recognized for his superior performance over the past year when he was announced as the SNCO of the year for the staff where we work.  Even better yet, he gets to compete for the annual award for all of 14th Air Force, which is a large organization and will be a great win for him.  Unfortunately for me, this means I will have to attend the annual awards banquet with him.

I'm not a huge fan of things like awards banquets, but I realize sometimes it comes with the job.  What I didn't realize, was that the uniform I will have to attend in is not my normal AF service dress (think civilian suit), but the mess dress (think tuxedo).  It's not so much that I mind wearing formal wear, although the last time I wore a tux was at my wedding 17 years ago; it's the cost involved.

When I first entered the AF, realizing the mess dress uniform is pricey, I found one online near my size, bought it and had it tailored to fit me.  I've never actually worn it in the decade since, and I've got some things I have to buy to get it ready to wear.  The shoulder boards with rank alone will be close to 50 bucks.  Then there's the shirt, bow tie, and cummerbund (pretty sure it came with a couple of those but if so they've been misplaced over the years), cuff links (I don't think I've ever worn cuff links), and a handful of medals.  Needless to say, I thought I was being forced to buy a $40 dinner, but it's going to cost several times that when it's all said and done.

On the bright side, one of my other NCOs has an awards banquet the very next night that I will have to attend, so at least I'm getting my money's worth a little bit, (and his dinner is only $25).  Also, Heather enjoys formal wear as little as I do, or else I could be looking at a dress purchase equal to all the money I'm spending on my uniform.  So the damage could be higher, but I feel like I'm in one of those Visa commercials where everything adds up, but I can't figure out what the "priceless" payoff is.  I guess supporting my troops is the priceless part, because it's the only thing that makes all this worth it.