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A Novel Naval Approach

, , , , , , , , | Working | December 6, 2022

My dad told me this story long ago, so I apologize for not knowing specific ranks or terminology. He was one of the ship’s cooks aboard a minesweeper during the tail end of the Vietnam War. At some point, the ship took on a bunch of Marines for an excursion.

I can’t speak for the behavior of servicemen now, but the Marines at the time were a bunch of arrogant jerks (keepin’ it PG) who believed themselves to be the best of the best and believed that Navy servicemen were wussies (also keepin’ it PG). There was a lot of strutting, preening, and smart-aleck, derogatory sneering toward the Navy men aboard the ship.

In port, anyway.

On the first day on the ocean, things turned around rather quickly against the Marines. Sneering jerks turned into very quiet, very green balls of misery who nibbled delicately at plain crackers and often could be found hanging over the side of the ship. Seasickness hit and hit hard.

This is where my dad and his fellow Navy men took their petty revenge. After days in port with swaggering jerks, certain foods were… requisitioned from the kitchen. Kippered snacks. Anchovies. Oysters. Pickles. Food with powerful smells and tastes got distributed among the Navy servicemen.

The worst offenders got to see fishtails sticking out of mouths and being wiggled up and down as though waving, while the rank smell of canned seafood followed behind them. Many Marines turned a deeper shade of green and fled their vicinity.

The Marines were quite subdued and far more respectful to the Navy men, well before the exercise was finished.

Dad said a few higher-ranking officers merely cleared their throats, ordered the men to finish chewing before they touched equipment, and said nothing more. To his dying day, Dad didn’t know if this was an official exercise or a punishment detail that Dad and his fellow Navy workers took malicious glee in strengthening.

Absolutely Trucking Mad, Part 6

, , , , | Right | November 14, 2022

My husband was the non-commissioned officer in charge of a large truck dock at a major Air Force base for several years before he retired from the military. The truck dock hosted regular potluck lunch events. It was my job to coordinate and run these events.

The civilian boss who was over the truck dock had a policy that ANYONE who entered the truck dock during these events was encouraged to stay and eat with us because we always had more than enough food. We once even had a group from the Danish military eat with us because their tour passed through the truck dock right before we started eating at a potluck.

The following happens when I deal with a dreaded “dependa” — the name for an annoying military wife who likes to throw her husband’s rank around. This dependa is the wife of one of his new airmen, and my husband is four ranks above the dependa’s husband. I have just invited several truck drivers who entered the truck dock to come over and eat with us because there isn’t an airman available to unload their trucks immediately due to the potluck.

This woman, who I have never met, starts yelling at me.

Dependa: “What are you doing?! Why are you letting dirty truck drivers eat with military people?!”

Me: “Umm, who are you? My husband is Technical Sergeant [My Last Name] and I am running this event.”

Dependa: “I am airman [Last Name]’s wife! You have no authority to let truck drivers eat with us!”

Me: “Oh, yeah, you’re the new guy’s wife! The reason why I am letting the truck drivers eat with us is that [Civilian Boss] told me to! We let the truck drivers eat with us while they wait for their trucks to be unloaded. I also know all of these truck drivers personally because they all come almost every day at lunch, anyway. I come to base to bring Sergeant [Husband] lunch every day, so I talk to them all the time.”

Dependa: “But truck drivers shouldn’t be allowed to eat with us! You are a disgrace to military wives!”

Me: “Hold on, let me call my husband over. You are way out of line!”

I call my husband over.

Husband: *To the woman* “What are you thinking?! My wife has been running these events for years, and you think that you can just barge in here as the wife of an E-2 and tell her what to do?!”

Dependa: *To my husband* “You have no authority over my husband! He is going to take your job in less than a year because you obviously don’t know how to run a professional military operation!”

Husband: “Are you threatening my job? Your husband is literally fresh out of basic training and technical school, and there is no way that he is going to make rank fast enough to even make E-5 before I retire in two years!”

My husband calls the airman over to us.

Husband: *To the airman* “Your wife thinks that she can just barge into my operation and tell my wife what to do! Control your wife now, or I will permanently ban her from the operation! She is disrupting an official event.”

The airman starts sputtering about how his wife is just really proud to be a military wife and that she just got too excited.

Husband: *To the airman and his wife* “I don’t care how proud she is! This is my operation and I will run it as I see fit, including giving my wife authority to run events in the shop! Take your wife and leave now! I will discuss this with you in private when you come back to work on Monday!”

My husband ended up banning the dependa from any future events because her husband couldn’t promise that she wouldn’t pull that stunt again. That was the first and only time that he banned a dependent from shop events.

Absolutely Trucking Mad, Part 5
Absolutely Trucking Mad, Part 4
Absolutely Trucking Mad, Part 3
Absolutely Trucking Mad, Part 2
Absolutely Trucking Mad

A Mother Can Only Take Sew Much

, , , , , , | Related | November 6, 2022

Housework was divided up between Mum and Dad according to who could do it best. So DIY, electrical work and the like went to Dad, and cooking, needlework and sew on went to Mum. Jobs they could both do equally well were jobs they shared and would do together. And as my sister and I grew older, we were (with much reluctance on our part) conscripted into joining in too. That’s not to say that Mum couldn’t do DIY or my Dad couldn’t cook; it’s just there’s a reason sis and I liked it when Mum got better so Dad didn’t have to do the cooking. 

Anyway, all that hasn’t got much to do with the story, other than to reassure you that when Dad asked Mum to do some sewing, it wasn’t because of some outdated “that’s women’s work” thinking, it was purely because Mum’s skills were of a very high standard, and that was definitely needed here.

For many years, Dad was in the Royal Naval Auxiliary Service. The RNXS was a voluntary organisation under the control of the Royal Navy. Even though it was voluntary, uniforms were provided, and neatness was expected. There were ranks, and progress through the ranks depended on your training. After completion of a particularly difficult training course (something about communication or radar; I forget what), Dad was presented with a badge that required sewing onto the sleeve of his uniform jacket.

Dad was so worried about it going on the sleeve even slightly out of alignment, he asked the highly skilled seamstress that is Mum to sew it on. He donned the jacket, Mum pinned it in place, Dad asked for it to be adjusted a bit, Mum re-pinned it, Dad was happy with it, took the jacket off, and Mum stitched it there. 

As any of you who has ever sewn something, pinning is pretty good, but as you start applying the stitches, the badge can still move a bit. And so when Dad put it back on, he noticed it had moved a little. So he asked Mum to move it a bit. Mum unstitched it, and the whole re-pinning process happened again.

And again.

And again.

I forget exactly how many times Mum sewed that badge on. It was always a little bit to the left, or up a bit, or it wasn’t quite square. With the benefit of about thirty years of hindsight, I’m wondering if Dad was so nervous about giving a bad impression, that he was starting to second guess himself to the point of paranoia? After all, those who wore this badge had a level of seniority, and with that came an expectation of high standards.

Mum wasn’t exactly enthralled with all this extra sewing, but she also wanted to make sure Dad presented himself properly to his superiors at the next meeting. Eventually, Dad was happy with the position, much to Mum’s relief. Dad was relieved too, as he knew the hard work Mum was doing, and I think he felt guilty each time he asked for a repositioning.

When Dad came back after the next meeting, Mum had to know.

Mum: “Was the badge alright?”

Dad: “Er…. yes, but… um… sorry! It was the right height on the sleeve, and it wasn’t twisted, and it was the right distance from the front of the body when my arm was straight down. But…”

Mum: “Yes…?”

Dad: “It was the wrong arm!”

Dad had to sew his uniform after that.

Your “Benefits” Don’t Extend Quite That Far

, , , , | Right | CREDIT: ashlie- | October 23, 2022

I work in a hotel. A woman came in for a walk-in and asked for a military rate. I went over the three rates we offer to guests who are in the military (most of our clientele are military or military contractors).

Me: “Can I please see your military ID?”

Guest: “I don’t have one. My friend with benefits is the one in the military.”

Me: “That’s fine. He just needs to be the one to check in and pay for the room, then.”

Guest: “He won’t be staying in the room with me, but he could text me a picture of his ID for me to show you.”

I fought the urge to laugh in her face.

Me: “Not only would that still not qualify, but your friend could get in deep trouble for taking a photo of his military ID and sending it to you.”

What followed was the most childish and embarrassing display of discontent I have ever seen. I’ve not ever seen an outburst like this from my nine-year-old step-son, let alone a grown woman. She was crying, pouting, demanding, “Let me speak to a manager,” you name it. (I am the manager!)

As an added bonus, she also asked to use her reward points for a free night’s stay. She was not a member of our rewards program or anything; she just thought those were the magic words.

We’re Guessing LMAO Isn’t Approved, Either?

, , , , | Healthy | CREDIT: ThisPercentage | October 23, 2022

It’s 1990. I am a relatively new corpsman (medic) assigned to a surgery ward at the Naval Hospital. Our patients are all post-op and there are sixty beds. There are six or so corpsmen assigned to take care of these patients. As part of our duties, we are to chart our findings and observations as we make our rounds.

This surgery ward is usually the first assignment for corpsmen and nurses coming fresh from school. I joined the Navy at twenty-one, so I am a little more worldwise than my peers who are all eighteen or nineteen. I know, especially in the military, there is the book way of doing things and the effective way of doing things. We have volumes of manuals that cover every aspect of our jobs and duties that you could imagine.

Cue the new nurse who has been assigned and wants to show how good she is at managing the lowly corpsman troops. She is merciless, always looking for opportunities to embarrass or cause trouble for us.

One evening, I observe her shouting at one of the corpsmen for using an unapproved abbreviation in a patient’s chart. What is the offensive abbreviation? “ASAP.” He wrote that the patient needed an evaluation ASAP. You would have thought that he had personally offended [Nurse]’s honor.

I go and look in the approved abbreviations section of our operations manual to confirm that it is not there. It is not. I do find that there is a very extensive list of approved abbreviations available to use, though.

Cue malicious compliance.

I pull all of the corpsmen on the shift and tell them to bring their charts to the break room. We then chart all of the notes together using nothing but approved abbreviations. The notes look like another language! I make sure everyone can read their own notes and send them out to put the charts back.

The pain-in-the-butt nurse comes in to review the notes with the corpsmen. I take the first round. This is done while standing at patients’ bedsides. She opens the chart and looks at the notes.

Nurse: “WHAT IS THIS?!”

Me: “I don’t understand. What do you mean?”

Nurse: “I don’t understand anything you have written.”

Me: “It says that the patient is recovering well with little difficulty, but he will need further evaluation based on his comments and visible demonstration of discomfort and reduced mobility in his left upper limb.”

Nurse: “That is not what it says.”

Me: “Ma’am, I assure you that it does and that those are all approved abbreviations. I am sorry that you do not know them. I do realize that you are new.”

I smiled. She did not. This was the first of sixty charts she had to review.

I have never seen corpsmen so eager to review chart notes. We did go get the manual for her, just to be helpful.