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CIVILIAN CONTRACTORS: The Little “Try to F-me Over Now” Black Book

If you have ever worked in the contracting biz then you have seen all the shady shit that PM’s, APM’s (Project Managers – Assistant Project Managers) and PMC’s (Private Military Company’s) do. Some of the nonsense PMC’s do so they can save a buck and PM’s can Cover Their Ass when they screw up can be as simple as fudging paperwork to outright criminal fraud. It can be a bit offsetting but most of us who work in this industry have no illusions that the PMC’s we work for are in any way the Salvation Army.

And what happens if they get caught with their hand in the cookie jar? The nearest working fool who is the lowest on the totem pole will eat a dick. Or if one of the PM’s buddies fucks up, steer clear because some poor chump will get thrown on a grenade – no way the PM’s bud is going home. Getting thrown under the bus by the PMC you work for in Civilian Contracting has become an art form to PM’s and APM’s. If you think because you have worked for a PMC for four years and have shown loyalty somehow means you are protected, then I have some beautiful beachfront land in Somalia to sell you.

So how do you CYA?

On my first contract in the PMC world way back in the day I had an old timer for a hooch-mate who previously worked 20 years in the LAPD before getting into the contracting biz. On my first day in-country he sat me down and threw some serous Old School knowledge at me over a bottle of cheap scotch.

He tossed everything out from: don’t drink too much, don’t let a broad get you hemmed-up on a gig, stay away from the cliques that form on contracts and be cool to everyone because you never know who will be the PM on your next contract.

But the number one thing he taught me that I have done on every single contract after then was:

“Get a notepad, and every time you see anything shady happen no matter how small it seems at the time –  write down the date, time, place, the people involved, companies involved and everything that happened to a T. So if they try to screw you over someday, you have a black book of ‘Try And Fuck me Over Now’ to pull out and wave in their faces”

He learned this from seeing so many of his LAPD buddies get tossed away like yesterday’s trash at the tiniest sign of trouble. But, the guys who pulled out their little “Try to F me Over Now” Black Book and started reading it out loud got a letter of reference and had no problem getting a new job.

With your little “Try to F me Over Now” Black Book as leverage, you can at least strong-arm your bonus check and they can’t screw you when the next PMC you apply to calls for a reference. The Little “Try to F me Over Now” Black Book is everything from a shield to a cannon for the working man.

To this day I have a big ass stack of Little “Try to F me Over Now” Black Books from every contract I have even been on over the past decade plus sitting in a secure location, just in case…

This does not just apply to guys in the PMC world, how many times have you seen shady stuff in your job? And how many times have you seen good dudes you worked with get the shaft for no reason but to save the company a buck?

So train and shoot and network, but be smart. Cover your ass with a Little “Try to F me Over” Black Book in your pocket.


~James P

Founder – Editor in Chief DVM

James P. 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 Southeast Asia and Virginia getting drunk, shooting guns, writing poorly written articles and covering his ass

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  1. Great advice! Got that same talk when I started the PD years ago! Cya!!

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  2. Sadly, you need a ‘Try And Fuck me Over Now’ book in just about every job on the planet!! PMC or otherwise!

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  3. Great advice – although probably not what my manager wants me to carry a notepad and pen at all times for…

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  4. Jeez Man,,,I know this is right and damn good advice. My first contract was with CSA, Ha !

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  5. Document, document, document. Like James, an old timer told me yrs ago that the most useful tool I will ever use on any job will be a pen. No truer words ever spoken.

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  6. My little notebooks have saved my butt on many occasions, but when I have to work for the even “shadier” outfits, I have a pocket Sony digital recorder ,recording every meeting with managers from the first interveiw on, as added insurance against what is said and not written in a contract, I love to see thier faces when I tell em\’ everything they ever said to me is on “tape”…best $30 I ever spent

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  7. Same holds true within LE. Always carry the notebook. You may get screwed by your direct chain of command, but after using the notebook the administration will make sure your not deemed un-hireable. I even got rehired once in a different division and different region within my former agency thanks to note taking.

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  8. I have done the same thing after an old timer schooled me much the same way.

    I call it the nuclear option. I\’ve used it a few times.

    Nothing like someone trying to fuck you over over something small and you bust that out.

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  10. Been There, Done That, and got FUCKED myself while working for MPRI between 1996-97. All because of some prior US Army retired veterans (officers & senior NCOs) who didn\’t have the intestinal fortitude to back me up on some wrong doings being done and were MORE WORRIED about their next pay check from MPRI. Word of advice…should you ever work as a contractor, don\’t ever trust those around you and think they are loyal fellow veterans. Because as long as they are being paid a lot of money by the company, even though you are right in seeing some wrongdoings being done. They, your fellow military veterans, will follow the money trail and not necessarily support and back you up. As one of my fellow MPRI co-workers stated to me….”Rick, I\’ll hand it to you buddy, you got a pair of balls. And you\’re right, there are some things fucked up here in MPRI. But as long as I\’m being paid a lot of money and they want me to teach something another way even if I think it\’s wrong…I\’m going to do what they tell me to do.” Need I say more?

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  11. James G,
    Agreed 100%. This I learned a long time ago as a Signaller in the military. CYA with the 5W\’s. Even if for yourself. Something about having to answer to A/JAG during a SHTF debrief.

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  12. Here\’s another take on the “Black Book”

    The Split Sheet

    By John Morrision

    Simply put, a split sheet is a sheet of paper with a line down the center, divided into sections headed “I Said” and “They Said,” with lines indicating statements or questions and responses in chronological order. It’s a simple, straightforward format, which lends itself to your linear memory of the event.

    See the rest of the article here:

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  13. Great advice James…from one who has felt the burning knife blade in the back….

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  14. Great tip. Here in brigade Recce/Jistarc we refer to it as personal safety net. Not just notes but any bit of evidence is copied into usb for personal back up/leverage.

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  15. Except when you work for a department that will nail you to the cross, when you pull said book. They will get you for “Failure to report misconduct,” making you just as guilty.

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  16. If you can, it is worth sending this by email (even if just to another account of yours) . Means you have the statement time stamped, and retrievable even if the book disappears

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  17. I agree with the e-mail trail as well. Once you start a memo trail, its hard to deny they knew about it. Our chief of police is quick to demand examples and instances of problems that he denies exist. We learned quick to keep a book on all of it and kick his feet out from under him.

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  18. Great advice James…I have been victim a time or two when dealing with PM\’s. Just last year I had to deal with a “In Country Manager” who was all jacked up. This guy constantly screwed up paperwork and was a cause for several headaches with some of the guys I worked with. I started keeping track of every screw up this guy made via email communications with him. After numerous screw up\’s I compiled all the email response\’s from this guy and sent it up the ladder back to DC to the PD & things changed quickly for us. It was not long after that that idiot was brought up to speed. Of course, he & I did not get along after that but, so fucking what….I was there to make some cash not be his buddy.

    Anyways, great advice you have here but it is a real shame that we as professionals have to resort to constantly covering our ass when it should be the other way around. PM\’s should have everyone\’s back in my opinion…but, they are only out to make a buck and screw everyone.


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  19. That was one thing my mother always taught me. Every phone call for anything, get their name, get their position and write it down for later! Now, every time ANYTHING even in the slight chance will generate paperwork or a complaint later down the road, I fill out a quick synopsis, who was there, their actions, and the perceived outcome. It\’s saved my ass plenty of times sitting in the hot seat of the higher command staff!

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