01 December 2006

What did you do in the Navy, Daddy?

Back in '92, I got put on medical hold because of a couple episodes of "probable kidney stones" while I was on the tender. None were actually found, and I ended up getting a waiver after several months, though in the meantime I lost my orders. (I'd been in the process of reporting in to Gato when Squadron Medical noticed the entries in my medical record.)

Whilst waiting for Medical to dedigitate, I hung out at Squadron, making myself more or less useful. After doing odd jobs for the first month or so, I was assigned to duties that I continued until I finally transferred back to a boat.

In those days, the recycling dumpsters here at the Groton sub base were fairly new. Now, if you tell the average mess cook* to put the cardboard in the brown dumpster, the bottles and tins in the blue dumpster, and everything else in the green dumpster, what's he going to do? Yep, you guessed it - walk up to the closest dumpster, no matter what colour it is, and throw everything in.

The obvious solution? Lock the dumpsters, and only unlock them when someone's there to supervise the people using them.

So I'd get in a pickup just before morning colours, drive to the first set of dumpsters, unlock the two (brown and blue) for recycling, and sit in the truck for 55 minutes. Then I'd lock the dumpsters, proceed on to the next set, and repeat the process. Until I'd finished my 55-minute stint at the last set, somewhere up near Pier Norwich, at which time I would stow the truck, turn in the keys, and go home. Five days a week, Monday through Friday.

Oh, and on Saturday I'd go in to the office from 0800 until 1200, just in case a boat had done a Friday-afternoon stores load or something and needed a dumpster or two opened.

Now, 55 minutes is a long time to be sitting in a truck doing nothing, so I took a book along. Not an RTM or some other piece of official, Navy-approved literature(?); whatever book I happened to have checked out from the base library. And I took my book to the office on Saturday, too. Got a lot of books read that fall and winter.

But wait - it gets better. Because, you see, there were two of us assigned to this duty. (Plus a chief. Can't get anything done in the Navy without a chief.)

Obviously, you don't need to have two people sitting in the truck watching the dumpsters to make sure the mess cooks aren't screwing up. So Mike (I think that was his name...) and I switched off; one of us would take the morning and the other would take the afternoon, and we'd alternate Saturdays.

It didn't take much to get the chief to agree that the one who wasn't in the truck didn't need to be sitting in the office doing nothing. He even agreed that the one who was taking the afternoon shift didn't need to muster - even by phone - in the morning, just as long as he did show up after lunch for his shift.

So we did it this way:
  • One guy did Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings, and Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. The other guy, of course, took the remaining shifts.

  • We alternated weeks, so that if I had Monday morning, &c, one week I'd have Monday afternoon, &c, the following week.

  • Whoever took the Friday afternoon shift also did Saturday. That way the guy who did Friday morning got off at lunchtime, and didn't have to come back in until after lunch on Monday.

Which worked out to alternating 17-hour and 22-hour work weeks. With a 73-hour weekend, every other week.

And I did this for six months....

* More on those in another post.

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