Read the first part here.
My absolutely cool supervisor Boss-T came into my office without his usual good-natured grin.
“Uh-oh… what up, Boss-T?”
“G… did you tell the Flight Safety Officer (FSO) you would ‘rip his head off and shit down his neck’ yesterday?”
“Ohhh… yeah, about that…”
“No, G — you can’t, just CANNOT ever talk to any of these people like that. They will get you fired. That guy registered a complaint with Human Resources for a hostile work environment against you.”
“Boss-T, I’ll give that fucker a hostile work environment!”
“Absolutely you will NOT do that, G! You’re going to have to sit through an interview with HR over this! Look, if anyone needs to have their head ripped off and their neck shit down, it’s the FSO — heck I’d do it myself — but can’t any of us ever actually tell him that, get it? And his name is Bob; you have to stop calling him ‘Boob’ to his face — he bitched about that too.”
“Heh-heh-heh-heh… yeah, got it loud and clear, Boss-T!” Boss-T was an absolutely cool supervisor.
I had a range an hour and 45-minute drive from the cantonment area of the test site, but the firebreaks were a little narrow and overground with vegetation. My requirement for fire containment was to have a 360-degree firebreak around my impact area.
I estimated for funds to hire a road grader and a blade, to tune up my existing fire breaks. The biggest problem was that I had a gap in my 360-degree loop, a stretch of some 1,0134 meters where there was no existing fire break to close the loop. To cut a new road where there was none before meant a HUGE time and expense hit on my project. I needed an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), archeological surveys, inspections, and the very real threat that I may be denied permission to make the 1,0134-meter cut.
I had a plan.
The only other person I had working with me up on my range was from the customer side, a former 75th Ranger Regiment brother. I had it made! He was a badass jack of all trades, and Rangers Lead the Way (RLTW)! We had a heavy rough-terrain forklift shipped up to my range — the biggest forklift on the NTS — and my Ranger badass and I fired the pig up and headed to where the firebreak ended.
To our front were 1,0134 meters of waist-high pristine scrub. After the scrub was a post with an orange streamer marking where the fire break began again and serving as an aiming point for our drive. Onward we plowed through the scrub cracking and smashing the crap out of the vegetation under our tires. I stood on the outside of the forklift on the driver’s side so I could talk to my Ranger.
At the end of the drive, we turned and drove over the drive, again and again, making an unmistakable trace along the ground that a road grader could easily follow.
When the grader did show up, he didn’t question or hesitate to rip the scrub trace into a fresh sandy soil double-lane firebreak road! The blade driver had given me more scope than I had asked for, ahead of schedule and under budget.
Guys like him were like unicorns in the company, easter eggs of a sort. I actually moved him a few miles away and let him tune up an access road to another project I had. I had funds left over from the firebreaks and wanted to help him out by giving him the work — win/win! That, though, was a major funding violation — using project funds from one project on another. My thought on the matter was that it was ALL MY MONEY and I spent it how I best saw fit — DF factor applied; advantage geo!
And BTW, nanny-nanny boo-boo!
I also had to own airspace over my project area because I was firing mortars — a high-trajectory affair. I calculated my highest potential projectile to be no higher than 8,000 feet and reserved R4808 parcels A and B up to 8,000 feet Above Ground Level (AGL).
The day the mortars began to fire I had Boob, the ASO, out observing. During the barrage, a pair of USAF A-10 Warthog Ground Attack aircraft flew directly over us.
Boob: “OMG… how high do you think they are??”
I held out my arm straight and pretended to do some sort of Kentucky triangulation altitude estimation wizardry, already knowing they were at 10,000 AGL.
“Meh… they’ll be ok.”
“I’m putting you on check fire until those aircraft are finished.”
“No, you’re not, Boob… I own the airspace and you can call Black Jack and request they remove their aircraft, but they are going to tell you those are at a safe altitude.”
“I’m going to put you on check fire just to be safe.”
“No you’re not, Boob, you Goddamned cock-sucker — get off my range before I tear your head off and shit down your neck!!” And there you had it, the hostility had begun!
Boob raced off to go file a complaint against me for creating a hostile work environment while my mortars belched smoke and fire. The Warthogs rolled and tumbled at a 100 benjis in feet of altitude overhead. There had been nothing for the mortars to shoot at on my flat; that is until I had a small building cluster build at about 600 meters from the firing line. We had a blast shooting it up, at times laying down mortar rounds right through the roofs.
For the AK-47 fire, I hired three active-duty Green Berets and one retired. Their whole job was to lock in a 30-round magazine of ammunition, and on cue lay the hammer down for all 30-rounds. I admired how well they managed the recoil on the gat for a full 30 rounds — zero muzzle climb and absorbing all the shock of ignition with little effect on their shot group.
“Geo… come get you some of this!” One of the brothers invited.
“Oh-no, no, no… I, you guys, it’s just that, well… IDK — maybe just one, huh boys?”
I racked up and laid down a full magazine’s worth of a burst while the boys observed intently to detect even a very minuscule shred of negative critique to break my balls over. As I stepped up to the firing line I fell the stress to perform well was so much that I almost popped a Viagra — but I didn’t. That would have been funny though:
“Woah, Geo… I see firing full-auto gives you a boner — yah me too!”
An excursion into the double-wide office trailer facility abutting the range was on the menu so I could immerse myself in the three boasting technologies. Pretty slick stuff, it was. I mean, the ultimate goal of all of it was to produce the most accurate should-hit location data for where the shooting was coming from. With an accurate ground reference that can be converted into mortar firing data in a split second, one stood a very good chance of applying an amazingly effective counter punch to incoming enemy fire.
Boss-T came up to chill for a couple of hours on just about the last day.
“I guess you and Boob have been back at it, eh G?”
“And the sky is blue; the grass green, Boss-T”
“So you got your interview with HR set up?”
“Yeah, that’s supposed to be today.”
(glancing at my watch) “Just about two hours ago, Boss.”
“Oh, hell… what the hell happened?”
“IDK; they asked me for my location so they could come to interview me. I gave them the geo-coordinates for this location, but they never showed.”
“Christ, G… Lewis and Clark would have trouble finding this place!”
“Annnd that’s not my problem, Boss-T.” He just grins and shakes his head.
Boss-T was (always) right, but it was certainly part of my design to exploit my notion that those butt-strokes from HR were just… stupid anyway. I had something in the vicinity of a tenth of a rat’s ass-worth of an intent to dance with HR until this project of mine had a fork stuck in it. Only then would I wander back to my office in town, the one all the women used as their lunch room since I was never there.
One the last day of the closeout phase of Project Backfire me and my Ranger bro sat there on that huge forklift — biggest one on all the NV Test Site — cracked open a warm beer and waited for the tractor and flatbed trailer to show up to load out the fork.
“Are we ok to be drinking beer here on the test site like this, Geo?”
“Ranger, five miles south where the range access road meets the hardball, there is a sign that reads: “Project Backfire: No Admittance.” All of the NTS on the other side of that sign are forbidden from consuming alcoholic beverages; everyone on this side of the sign is good to go — cheers!”
Project Backfire sure did backfire quite nicely. The funding channels were so convoluted that it took too long for the customer to pay us; that is, the funding on the customer’s side expired and we never got paid. All the funding for project execution had been put upfront by the DOE — oops! I instantly became “that asshole who ran Project Backfire.”
That was actually ok with me because I had the DF factor and never had to look at any of those haters as long I was in my kingdom that was so far forward that even the forward areas were behind me. I actually ran into Lewis and Clark up in my NTS Area 19 where most of my empire lay. They were “a-lookin’ fer Sedan Crater.” I hated, no, really hated to tell them they were all the way on the western border of the NTS, while Sedan lay far off to the east border of the site.
Now that the forklift was gone Ranger and I sat on the tailgate of our pickup truck to finish our beer.
“What if that tractor driver reports us for drinking beer on the NTS?”
“He won’t because he knows he won’t ever work one of my projects again. Even if he does — fuck him — we’ll just say he’s lying — two against one.”
Ranger took off and I was just about to head out myself. I just aimed to be the last one off of the project testbed; it just seemed fitting. The sun was low and had a big pouty face with a boo-boo lip hanging down. He always looked that way when he wanted to go to bed. That face though… it was so obvious you could see it even without a dark filter. No argument from me with the sun; when the sun was sleepy, everyone got sleepy. Besides, I still had, what, two hours and 45 minutes to go before I was home and ok to strap on my own boo-boo lip.
By Almighty God and with honor,
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