Photo of USTDC courtesy of Les Duffin

Friday, August 24, 2007

Learning the Ropes -- Navy Style

It was my first day on the job at USTDC and three of us decided to head out for lunch. As we headed down the hallway, the other two walking side by side ahead of me, I noticed what appeared to be a Navy officer coming from the other direction. I didn't really think much about it since we were indoors and we Air Force enlisted types normally just said a "Good morning, sir" or something similar under those circumstances.

But it turned out that this was the admiral and the two guys in front of me suddenly stopped cold and snapped to attention. Like a tailgating SUV, I slammed into them, knocking us all off balance. We must have looked like The Three Stooges as we tried to regain our composure and whatever was left of our dignity. The admiral walked on by, staring at me as he passed. He wasn't smiling. Probably thought, "Hmmm...another clueless Air Force enlisted guy." He was right, of course. Who knew that one was supposed to stop and remain in place until the admiral passed by??

I don't think I ever passed the admiral in the hallway again after that, but I was fully prepared to stop, for no apparent reason, if or when I ever did.

Working with the Navy, Army and Marines was a great learning experience. For example, I was told that there are only two ropes aboard ship. One is the rope that hangs down from the bell and the other is the ladder that goes over the side. Everything else is a line.

Every branch had its own terminology, but the Navy and Marines were quite different from the Army and Air Force. Floors were decks; doors were hatches; walls were bulkheads; restrooms (or latrines in the Air Force and Army) were heads, and on it went. Because I was an office worker, most correspondence was in Navy format which was quite different from what I was accustomed to.

None of this stuff was bad, just different and it took some getting used to.

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