|The following was my response to a question posed by a fellow submariner. He was not a "career man" and he was curious as to what kept those of us who were "lifers" in the Navy. The following is not the only reason. As in most things we do in life the reasons are varied, selfish, often subtle, sometimes accidental and always complex. And we seldom fully understand. In fact - hardly ever.|
Both ends of the spectrum:
(1955) When the whistle blew we all turned off our machines. We had a thirty minute lunch period and it was a big plant so dodging the pallets of steel we hauled ass for the doors and across the open area to the cafeteria. I was eighteen and could run fast but it always startled me a bit to be running alongside guys in their fifties who had done that same job since they were eighteen (most of them had the missing fingers and scars to prove it). I did that nonsense for nine months. Then ten weeks after totaling my car in a three car pileup (my fault) I was on a train from Cincinnati to Great Lakes for Boot Camp.
Thirty years later as Safety Director in another plant I had people who had been working there since I had run through that steel plant long ago. They were good, solid local people. They had never been far from their birthplace and had done those same jobs at that same plant and driven into that same parking lot day after day. Meanwhile I had traveled the world over; had my share of dogs**t duty, and also knew a few of those inept Chiefs and Officers everyone has encountered. The kind that causes some sailors to say, "that sonuvabitch is driving me out of this canoe club". (The neat thing about the Navy is eventually either you or that a**hole you hate will be transferred). But mostly I had excellent duty and served with some of the finest men on this earth. Managed to stay out of the sh*ts. Worked hard and played hard and somehow, like I knew it would, it all averaged out. I had responsibilities beyond what any civilian job could have offered. It gave my life purpose and meaning. And memories beyond any price.
In short Joe, to address your question directly, I was fortunate to realize that everybody has to be someplace and I figured out early-on that the Navy was the very best someplace for me. Didn't marry until I was thirty. We had our oldest when I was thirty-four so the family conflicts were minimal.
No regrets. No second thoughts. Ever.
"Eight million stories in the naked city. This has been just one."