"All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others."
- George Orwell, "Animal Farm"
When I arrived at work on Monday morning, I was quite hung over; what, you expected something different? I had to get my mind right to fully endure what was to come. I walk onto the barge where my divisional space is, and I see a two-colored backpack on a desk. This nearly made me lose my mind and start screaming. Why, you ask? Well, the (completely asinine) uniform regulations of the Seagoing Military Force require that any bag worn or carried with a uniform be of a solid color, either navy blue or black. Throughout the latter half of 2006, I repeatedly took shit for having a backpack that didn't conform to this standard - one that was black and navy blue. In January, I finally broke down and shelled out $20 for an all black bag. To come in and see that bag - and make the logical assumption that a Chief Petty Officer was wearing an unsat bag - made me absolutely livid. So much of the training we received over the last two days was about the breakdown in our upholding of our standards. If the people who are paid, board selected, and peer initiated to enforce those standards can't meet them, what message does it send to us? For one, that the rules aren't as important as they're made out to be, and for two, that the standard is actually a double standard. In my nearly twenty-five months on Memphis, much evidence has accumulated to back up this point, but yesterday morning produced the most blatant example to date. Of course, if I had brought this up to the Chief in question, it would have swiftly been pointed out to me that I never actually observed the offending bag being used with the uniform, and thus there was no wrongdoing. Such "sea lawyering," as we call it, would not have worked had the roles been reversed.
This morning, during the first of our training sessions, a cell phone rang. Most of us know full well to silence or secure our mobile phones prior to any training session, to prevent interruption of the lecturer. To whom did this phone belong? To the Chief of the Boat (COB), the senior enlisted man on our crew. His response? "New phone. My bad." I don't know about anybody else, but I found the "off" button on my phone very soon after I first got it. I can say for certain that any of the "dirty blue" who commit such offense would earn himself a harsh tongue lashing immediately after the training wrapped up. I doubt very much that happened here.
"The TV business is uglier than most things. It is normally perceived as some kind of cruel and shallow money trench through the heart of the journalism industry, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs, for no good reason."
Hunter S. Thompson, "Generation of Swine: Tales of Shame and Degradation in the '80s"
On the SDT, as I alluded to above, there's a clear separation between the thieves and pimps, and the good men. In fact, our respective shirts are color-coded for easy identification. (For the record, I and my like-shirted brethren are the latter.) Last night, just before I went to bed prior to standing the midwatch, I was told that I'd have to soak up some more watches from today. The net effect of this would require me to remain on Seavey Island for something like, 55 hours, possibly more. Fortunately, it was simply a misreading of the watchbill, and the discrepancy was corrected quickly the following morning. The root cause of this hate spike - the fact that some of our newly arrived junior personnel are not qualified to stand an aft watch - is calling my (previously approved) leave into question. I got another, smaller spike this afternoon, when I was told I needed to secure some parts from our supply department, despite my previously being told they were effectively closed until the start of the new fiscal year next Monday. However, after negotiations, we got what we needed, though it delayed my departure by about an hour. Oh, and just prior to last night's midwatch, I learned that the Nationals clobbered the Mets, dropping the Amazins' lead to two games. Throughout my thirty-four hours in purgatory, I was indiscriminately spreading hate. The "your mom" jokes were out in full force.
If The Colbert Report did a report on the SDT, it might look something like this:
That's enough sharing for one night. My roommate is playing the newly released Halo 3, and we've got pizza on the way...maybe, just maybe, I'll be able to relax for a bit.