Thursday, May 29, 2008

a very young Mie story

David, over on authorblog always asks very interesting, and sometimes difficult to answer Weekend Wandering questions. Go on over, and look at some of his beautiful posts, as well.
This last Weekend Wandering question is "Has anyone ever under-estimated your ability?"
Now, this happens frequently, for whatever reason. People seem to under-estimate others on a regular basis. I usually will just prove them wrong, smirk, and flounce away, vindicated.
There was a time in my life when I did not know how to do that, though.
I joined the Navy when I was 18.
I needed to do something that was going to get me away from the small town I grew up in, and out of the rut that EVERYONE I went to high school with practically fell into. (Go to local junior college while working a menial job, living with mom and dad, stagnating). Some went on to 4 year colleges, but most of us? Not.
So I joined the Navy. Dad had been in the Navy, DK had been a Marine (I so wasn't going there) Grandpa had been Army (their recruiter told me I could be a housekeeper or secretary in the Army. Oh lovely). I did briefly consider the Air Force, but I like the Ocean better than the sky. So the Navy it was.
Boot camp was long. And arduous. I went to Orlando Florida during August, of all months. It was stale, and hot, and I was away from home for the first time. But I survived it. During boot camp, they told me that my first duty assignment was going to be in Yokosuka, Japan. I was excited. I was 18, liberated, and headed overseas! My Mom (Aunt Tuna) was less than thrilled. I'd be gone 2 years.
My first job in the navy was as a "Fireman's apprentice". I could branch out from here into being an Engineman, an Electrician, or many other things related to the mechanics of Navy Life. I actually wanted to be an Electrician. So, after a month of the basic "Fireman" training, off I went, to Yokosuka, to work on Tugboats.
I got there, and was introduced to my "boss", a first class petty officer who happened to be and Engineman. Petty is right.
Lets call him Lance, shall we? This guy announced to me, under no uncertain terms, that I was going to be an Engineman, like he was. Like he was training another young sailor on the boat to be. This guy was a LARGE, muscular man, and he was HATEFUL. I was the very first female crew member placed on the tugboat, and he DID NOT WANT ME THERE. There were 4 guys, and ME on this boat. I could never get away from him, or them. For the next 6 months, Lance went out of his way to belittle me, punish me for any error, and tear me down to tears as often as he could. He was responsible for training me, helping me. He did neither. I suffered a serious burn to my hand once because he was standing behind me while I was performing a task on a large, RUNNING engine, yelling at me and belittling me while I was trying to finish the work. I can still feel the pain, of the burn, and the constant, emotional beat down.
One day, it all came to a head. He crossed the line of emotional, into physical. I was standing next to a wall, and he took a swing at me, while he was yelling loud enough that little flecks of spit were flying. He missed my head, by millimeters. He hit the wall hard enough to leave a dent. I almost fainted.
That was it. I was so tired of him, beaten by him. He would not let me go train with the electrician, he made me hate my life. I was not enjoying Japan, or anything on the tugboat. I was young, just had finally turned 19, and I was beaten. I did not realize that I could have lodged a formal complaint, and taken him to Captains Mast. Oh, how I wish I would have known that.
Instead, I did the quickest thing I could think of. I got a book, answered a bunch of test questions, and changed my job over to Seaman on the tug boat.
Best thing I ever did. It removed me from Lance and his undermining, the Captain of the tug told him he had to stay away from me (he heard about the almost hitting me incident). Hard on a small tug with only 5 people on it. So he just ignored me. That was FINE BY ME.
I loved working out on the decks of the tugboat. Liberated from the oppressive engine room, and the oppressive Lance, I began to work hard, and shine. I really loved my job, and I was GOOD at it. Everyone was amazed that the little mouse I was turned into a sassy, take no shit tugboat girl. I started to love my life in Japan, as well. Being happy and successful at my job made a HUGE difference.
And Lance? He left the boat, eventually. I wish I could say he was eaten by a shark or something. But No. He, and many other men in the Navy like him, thrive in the atmosphere of Navy life. He simply went to his next duty station. I never had to see him again. The next Engineer that came aboard was a super nice guy. Supportive, fun. Had he been my boss, I might have been a good electrician.
So, yeah. Lance under-estimated my ability. But the problem? He got ME to under-estimate my own ability. A very young me. Thankfully, I got away from him in time....


Bubblewench said...

Nice escape. Glad you made it!

Lori said...

While in totally different circumstances, I too had a Lance in my life. I do have to thank him for making me a better person today, but at the time it sucked big time!

julie said...

At least you are able to realize that he was wrong about you! What an @$$hole!

Daryl said...

Well, thanks to Lance for making you the kick ass chick you are today!

Now how did you get from there to nursing?

Inquiring minds beg to know!


Jo Beaufoix said...

Blimey Mie, that was brilliant, and what a vile man. When you're young you don't always feel that you have choices but you survived and I bet he hated that, seeing you thrive and grow in that tiny space but no longer having any power over you. I hope his testicles dropped off and that nasty itchy things infested his underwear.

Anonymous said...

Now you're going to have to follow it up with a story about being what you do today, because I don't think you run a tugboat.


holly said...

oh what a huge huge shitheel! i'm so glad you took that test! ooooooooh but i want to find that guy and kick him repeatedly in the repeater!

DaddyKaos said...

Mine came at the end of bootcamp when one of the DI's told me I was going to die in Vietnam. I'll finish the story someday.

sybil law said...

Lance the grade A prick! That makes me so mad!
Still - good for you.
I'm still so mad about the asshole. Grrrrrrrrrr....