You know that country-western song where Trace Atkins sings “You’re gonna miss this?” FITREPS are kind of like that.
Stay with me.
Oh sure, I remember the anxiety as the date approaches where people you work for compare you with everyone you work WITH. You don’t know how to talk to your boss. You don’t want to look like you’re licking boots, but at the same time you don’t want to appear too aloof – that can bite you too. Every little mistake gets amplified because you know that memories are short.
You don’t know how to talk to your peers. There is a subtle competition in everything you do. You look sideways at the peacocks (you know – the guys who strut around blowing their own horns), and take guilty delight if someone messes up in front of the Old Man.
Then you finally sit down with the boss and read all about yourself.
With today’s FITREPS, there is a limit on how many people can get rated in the top tier; the rest are put in lower categories. Hardly anyone gets a perfect score. It’s a giant bell curve, and by the end of the day everyone knows where he (or she) stands. I guess it’s a good system, but that’s not what I miss.
I miss the OLD fitness reports. The ones before the new system took subjectivity out of the equation. The old system allowed an unlimited number of people to be placed in the “TOP ONE PERCENT.” Supposedly it allowed for you to be compared against everyone in the Navy, but the result was that everyone – and I mean everyone – was a “TOP ONE PERCENT” performer.
I could go home to my wife and legitimately tell her, “Honey, I have been rated as being one of the top, super-performing Lieutenants in the Navy,” and not be lying.
Nowadays, as a civilian, I don’t get that kind of positive stroke. I don’t even get rated on a bell curve.
Then again, maybe that’s not so bad.