Since it appears that this memories thing will be a multi-part post, a series, if you will, I have given it its own category.
My sojourn as a technical training instructor was relatively uneventful. Oh, I enjoyed it and had a lot of fun, but I won’t be posting too much about that fun here, especially since my mother’s reading this stuff. (Hi, Mom!)
Since I was only an Airman First Class (E-3) when I arrived at Lowry, it was often assumed that I had no practical experience as a bomb loader. The reason? During the technical training (job training) that comes directly after basic training and before assignment to one’s first duty station, there are some students that manage to score an average of 98% or better on the tests. Often, those students are offered technical training instructor positions right out of school: that is, instead of going to get the practical experience of doing the job, they go right into teaching others how to do the job. Since I was busy having fun during technical training and only achieved a high 80s average, I had been sent on to my station, Plattsburg.
None of my airmen students gave me any flak over this assumption and most of my NCO students didn’t either. However, there’s always one. A staff sergeant called me out in front of the whole class: “What do you know? You’ve never been out at a real base to do this job.” I corrected him.
Later, I told my boss about the incident. Abe Something (can’t remember right now) was a black man, about five-six, weighed about two-fifty and had a bald head. He had all the dimensions of a cannon ball with a voice and a personality to match: he took absolutely no crap, especially off students.
After I dimed on the sergeant, Abe called him into his office. We could hear Abe outside of the building. Abe wasn’t the kind of guy to give you a letter of counseling/reprimand or anything. He was the type to threaten to cut your eyeballs out and feed them to you. And he treated me like a little sister.
Being a “technical training instructor” bequeathed to me several gifts. The class designed to train instructors to teach helped me to do three things:
• It helped me to minimize my innate shyness. (To those who know me in person: stop laughing! Thank the designers of this course for the hellcat you presently know and love/put up with.)
• It eliminated any fear of making speeches, even impromptu ones. Preparation and practice are the keys, but once the fear is gone, you can
bloviate jaw-jack talk to your heart’s content without a script and without that funny feeling in your stomach.
• It minimized the horrid, annoying habit of peppering speech with verbal fillers, e.g. “like,” “you know,” and especially the dreaded “uh.” It also minimized “physical distracters,” e.g. moving your head too much, twirling hair (not a problem for me now, but then I had a little Afro), and playing with pencils, shuffling papers and the like. FoxNews reporters Wendell Goler and Jennifer Eccleston would benefit greatly from this course.