My new job is working at the network operations center at our state headquarters. It’s a significant pay upgrade from my old job – since I’m a “military technician,” I’m paid as a federal government civilian employee on the GS pay scale, so my recent promotion to E-6 didn’t affect my Monday-Friday pay – and it’s a much more focused job than the one I had at the BCT.

It’s also much more corporate. The atmosphere is casual and decidedly non-military, and the management style (particularly within our section) is more Office Space than Full Metal Jacket. Everyone goes by first names – with the exception of the Dark Lord himself, the colonel who heads the operation. He is still afforded the military courtesy due to an O-6, but his behavior is usually jovial, ambling out of his office to dispense good-natured ribbing and continual reminders of how long he’s been around, all sprinkled with knowing winks. Despite his friendly attitude, though, many are virtually terrified of him. I don’t really get it, but then again, I already had a reputation coming in to the job as one of the few who had defied the Dark Lord and lived to tell the tale!

Long before going to the state headquarters, I referred to the colonel as the Dark Lord, since his information technology organization was a frequent target of our colorful curses, and also because he basically held the power of technological life or death over us all. I gradually spun out the metaphor, until the state headquarters became Mordor, and the colonel’s office space became Minas Morgul. His chief enlisted man became the Witch King of Angmar, and his various minions, much like orcs, were aggressive and intimidating to outsiders but seemed to fairly cower before their great master.

Of course, now I am one of them, but I hate to give up the metaphor – so what does that make me?