It is a sad day that I can recollect something good about my time in the service. It is usually a story or a single instance of something great, someone that made me keep my faith in humanity. This time I had something to laugh about, it was the vast majority of the people that I served with in my division. I will call these folks “the rogue’s gallery”.
I had thought that everyone that served on a ship were supposed to be these uber professionals underneath a veneer of salty leather. I had some misplaced notion that they were either professorial men that pondered defense strategy or that we were these highly moral, iron jawed first line heroes. The truth was the opposite.
We were sarcastic and weirdly humored zombies. Some of us were dumber than a bag of hammers. And a good cross section of us were quick to medicate ourselves with bizarre pleasures, illogical escapes.
This was true in the work center that I ended up in. I wanted to share with you some comical examples.
(a) AWWW MAAAAANNNNN!!! THIS IS DIGGITY DANK!
One of the first people I ever had to work with was a guy that a fun sex or party story from the past. It was always a wild time or had some adjective laden experience. It kept watch and everyday work interesting. Our oversight would often bemoan his unprofessionalism and “pied piper” power to drive other people to get in trouble. His claim to fame is that he woke up with his face in a woman’s crotch and couldn’t remember the woman’s name, but he remembers the crotch.
(b) FIGHTING, DRINKING, SLEEPING, ETC.
I had the fortune to meet a guy that only slowed down enough to survive. He outlasted every guy who got kicked out of the service. He decked an E8 in charge of him. He would drink and pass out behind a radar console, snoring enough for me to find him so he could wake up for morning muster. He (supposedly) ended up getting a DUI and smashing the piss out of a car when he was on recruiting duty. To top things off, he ended up in prison for messing around with a teenager. He did his best to avoid supervising us.
(c) Chronic “Mispeller” and Weird Family Man
The only man from North Carolina to unironically wear a Texas hat kept us laughing. He purposefully fought having to get his GED, even though he was legally required to do so. He would use “toe” where he needed “tow”. He skirted uniform regulations to keep a pushbroom mustache that made him look like the guy off the Pringle’s chip can. He named one of his kids a name that would get her made fun of, which is what we did. He could get drunk and no one knew that he had been drinking. He was the butt of many jokes and I was thankful for it. Years later, he joined the Army and ended up in the infantry. His wife had a ton of kids.
(d) The Hindu Cow Whipping Boy
He spent years not giving a crap about anything. You could punish him and he would never fix what ever was the ailment. He would take the fall and think nothing of it. He would play video games and sleep on the floor of someone else’s apartment, even though he had housing money/apartment of his own. He always smelled like old cigarettes. Drinking didn’t change him much but he seemed to be a harbinger of good times. He was a great coworker for shitty jobs. He never complained and would always get yelled at.
(e) Transfer to The B Train to Nowhere
A guy who got promoted to E-4 and was supposed to transfer to my division went AWOL before his Article 13 hearing. He happened to be from my hometown. I just happened to give him a ride. He could hit you with a zinger like this: What flavor gum is that? Feet? We called him “Candyman” because he looked like the guy from the movie that played Candyman.
(f) The Smartest Low Ranking Guy Who Should Run Training
One of my favorites was an E4 who transferred from another ship to ours. He was in my group that I was running training for. He seemed too smart for the class. He was really clean cut and polite, (note I was an E5). The truth came out, he had fist of fury. Apparently he had knocked someone clean out. I think that the case was buried but he still got “knocked down” in rank. I never ordered him around, too much respect. But he fit in with the smartasses when they found out that he could handle his sh*t.
This isn’t the end of all of the crazy folks I knew, but this was a short sample of what we dealt with in my division. It shaped me away from being the bright eyed dude that left home. I have little faith in humanity but I get surprised when someone doesn’t drive a stolen bus into a security fence or steal a “genie boom” man lift. Such was my time in the Navy.