They say money can’t buy class or brains and if their is one profession that can prove that – it has to be contracting.
If you have ever worked as a Civilian Contractor then you are fortunate enough to have witnessed some of the funniest crash and burns that have ever happened to anyone with half a brain and a 6-fig job.
Despite some fool getting the once in a lifetime opportunity to make 80 to 200 grand a year tax free they somehow manage to discard their brain in favor of doing brilliant things like buying a 400K house despite the fact they never made more than 35K a year in the states (or UK, Australia, South Africa, ect).
The funniest part to me is these guys have heard the same Contractor Fail stories a million times, yet they think if they make the exact same mistakes it will somehow work out great for them. This is pretty much the equivalent of crossing the freeway wearing a blindfold expecting not to get hit by an eighteen-wheeler because you said “I wont get hit by an eighteen-wheeler”.
Personally I stopped warning my fellow contractors not to do certain things (that are common sense anyway) that will surely lead to their demise. Why? For starters I shouldn’t have to tell a grown ass man not to do things like marry a hooker or buy two Ferraris.
Its also extremely entertaining watching someone make the same mistake over and over again. Sort of like watching people run into a door 3 times that has a big sign on it that says “push to open”.
I have listed 7 of the most common and funniest Civilian Contractor Fails that end up completely destroying what could have been a sweet 6-fig life.
Blow a 6-fig Job Over Booze
“If you drink alcohol you will be fired” – sounds pretty straight forward doesn’t it? I mean, drink and you loose your job, don’t drink and you keep your job. Well apparently this isn’t clear enough for the average contractor because getting shipped home for hitting the sause is probably the number 1 reason civilian contractors get shit-canned.
Seriously folks, how stupid do you have to be to do the one thing that will get you fired from a job making more money than you ever have in your life? Even better, why don’t you get drunk and walk around the base so some snitch can report you or show up to work the next day smelling like Robert Downey Jr.
If a certified alcoholic like me can not drink for a few months then anyone can hold back on the devils water.
Good call Genius – you just blew a 6-fig job over a can of Budweiser.
Buy Expensive Cars
So for the first time in your life you are making big bucks. Hmmm… what is the most intelligent thing that you can do with your money?
Put it in a 401K? – Nope
Help your family out? – Nope
Save it? – Nope
How about buying a 100K car that you will only drive for 1 month out of the year? – Hell Yes!
I know like 30 people that have bought Mercedes, BMWs, Porches, Doge Vipers and even one guy that bought 12 cars on ebay. Before becoming a Civilian Contractor these guys have never owned a car that cost over 30K, now suddenly it seems like a fantastic idea to buy a 90K 7-series BMW because they have what is basically a temp job.
If they could drive the car around every day and still make the same salary I would almost understand. But as a Civilian Contractor you only get like 1 to 3 months off a year, so your brand new Porsche sits in your moms driveway collecting dust depreciating wile you are working in Iraq because you cant get a job stateside that pays 1/8 of what you make overseas.
Good call Genius – you just blew half a years pay on something that lost 30% of its value 4 seconds after you put the key in the door.
Be an Asshole to Everyone
Yep, you are high speed low drag, you are the man, you can kill someone with a Ritz Cracker 27 ways – so why not walk around with your chest puffed out and be rude to everyone? What if some of the guys you work with are nice to you? Screw that – be an even bigger ass to them.
These arrogant jerk-wads are probably the only group within the contracting world that I really hope will get hit by a bus while on leave.
The only reason why people overcompensate like that is because they are immensely insecure. They are basically grown men in the body of a 13 year old skinny pimpled kid with no friends.
They know that they don’t have any redeeming qualities that would make anyone like or even feel sorry for them so they figure: “why not save myself the hurt and just make everyone hate me”.
You know what I do when one of the “bad asses” pulls the “I will tell you how great I am and generally be rude and arrogant to you” routine on me?
I point out a cute girl and challenge them to talk to her. That pretty much shuts their pie hole up except for the excuses why they won’t do it.
Good call Genius – you just blew getting in the loop for future jobs because you are insecure.
Make 100K a Year But Still be Broke
Yep, it is hard to believe but 50% of all Civilian Contractors who make 100 to 200K a year tax free still live paycheck to paycheck (and the 50% figure is conservative).
This is what happens when a regular Joe ends getting a fat 6-fig contractor job:
1. Buys Tons of Crap They Would Have Normally Never Bought.
Buy a new laptop even if you already have one that is less than a year old – check. Hit the “buy now” button on Amazon.com twice a day – Check. Buy tons of clothing from the Old Navy website – Check. Buy a Breitling watch that you can only wear during leave – Check.
2. Finance an Expensive Car
Same as above but you finance your Viper at 19% APR
3. Buy a Huge House
I hear this one all the time. Some guy that has lived in a 600 dollar a month apartment his whole life decides to buy a 400,000.00 dollar house on the lake. How will he make the 5,200.00 dollar a month mortgage when he stops contracting? Exactly.
Good call genius – you blow 99.999% of you 200,000.00 dollar a year salary, you are now poorer than you were when you were making 20K a year in the Army.
*Note: Many times the contractors wife is the one burning through the money wile her Civilian Contractor husband is working 15 hour days living in a tent in Afghanistan.
Let Your Wife Have 100% of Your Pay and Never Check Your Joint Accounts
I used to tell this to every new contractor I met: “tell your wife you make 30% less than your actually do, put that 30% somewhere secret and check you joint accounts everyday to see if she is draining them out so she can pop-smoke from your marriage with a duffel bag full of cash”.
And I always hear the same reply: “My wife would never do that” or “I cant hide money from my wife (like its unfair to her or something)”.
If I had a bottle of Southern Comfort for every time the wife of a Civilian Contractor has maxed out every credit card and emptied the bank account and left her husband I could get drunk 8,329 times.
Seriously, your wife is all alone and is extremely lonely for 11 months out of the year and has nothing but money and time on her hands – what do you think is going to happen?
Good call Genius – you blew 4 years salary because are naïve and believed “my wife wouldn’t do that to me” good call!
Marry a Bargirl
This is my favorite Fail thing that contractors do, there is so much drama from someone doing this that I am guaranteed to be amused for several years.
So you keep hearing about this wild place to go in leave – Bangkok! (or the Philippines, Romania, ect). After the 10000 time one of your fellow contractors says: “Dude, you can get ANYTHING you want there dirt cheap, it is the most awesome place in the world – I am going to buy a house there” you book a ticket to the Land of Smiles with plans of having 2 weeks of debauchery.
During your 2 weeks you meet a lovely Bargirl that “doesn’t like what she is doing but has to support her sick father” and fall in love. You take her shopping at Siam Paragon (and wonder why the local folk snicker when you walk by), you buy her a new hand phone (“my HP no good, too old, you buy me new one”) and generally welcome your role as a walking ATM.
You are heartbroken when you have to leave, but at least your new Bargirl girlfriend will be fine – you will send her money every month. You get back from leave and show everyone the pictures of your new love on your laptop wile they say: “hell yes dude, she is hot” but behind your back they say: “I think I hit that on my last leave”.
When her brother (her current Thai husband) gets in a motorcycle accident or her dads cow gets sick you stand in line at the IZ Western Union for 4 hours to send her money for the bills.
All this time the few sane and experienced South East Asia travelers are telling you: “dude, she doesn’t really love you, in fact she resents and probably hates you”. And your response: “she is different, she really loves me, she even quit working at the Go-Go”.
Fast forward 3 years…
You are miserable, after giving her parents 3 months pay for the dowry, 10,000.00 dollars for a wedding that only served rice and chicken, sending her 80% of your paycheck every month and the constant demands for more money along with paying 50K for a house in Issan is making you want to walk into the Red Zone naked waving an American flag and a picture of George Bush.
Dude, you married a hooker, what else can I say.
Good call Genius – you are blowing all your money and sanity on a whore you married, NASA must be recruiting you hard.
Punching Someone Out Over Nothing
You don’t take any crap, if someone talks smack knock that fool out. Yep, so what if you will loose your 180,000.00 thousand dollar a year job because someone made a snide remark to you. You have your honor to defend, and that’s more important than paying the bills and eating. Don’t back down dude, don’t let someone punk you out.
Good call genius – you blew a 6-fig job so you can be an unemployed “tough guy”, at least you will have all the time in the world to watch UFC in your trailer.
This article was way longer than I intended but once I started thinking about all of the stupid shit contractors do it was hard to stop. I can think of at least 50 other Civilian Contractor FAIL! stories but I forced myself to cut it short.
Feel free to post your Civilian Contractor FAIL! Stories
James is a Veteran Civilian Contractor who has worked in the Middle East and Southeast Asia for way too long. He spends his off time in his homes in Indonesia and Virginia getting drunk, shooting guns and writing poorly written articles.