2016/03/12

Mess-cranking


Back in the Navy, my rate/rank designation was PN3 (Pronounced pe-en-three, we always fully spelled out our designations). That stands for Personnelman (My rate or specialty) and Petty Officer Third Class (My rank, it was equivalent to being an Army Corporal). During our first term of four years, we served four months on the mess decks (food storage, preparation, serving and eating area) where we, for all intents and purposes, lost our rate designation and became just Petty Officer Third Class or Seaman or whatever our rank was.
One of our duties was Pier Sweeper. I was sent out to the pier with instructions to clean up any trash that I saw. I went out and saw one piece, then another, then another. Pretty soon, I was dragging a big, formerly empty box full off trash back to the dumpster close to where the beginning of the pier was. Finished, I went back up to the Quarterdeck to report to the Officer Of the Deck that I was finished and was headed back to the mess decks. The OOD returned my salute and said how impressed he was.
I had been taking so long, he figured I had just gone back onto the ship by the other entrance (That would have been the Midships Brow) and so he was pretty impressed to see me dragging such a large load. I indicated that my actions were all in a day's work and not a problem and headed down below.
A month later, an announcement came out over the 1MC that another ship of the same function as the one I was on was coming into port, would load up and head right back out again to get to Miami, which had just suffered a hurricane (Hurricane Andrew in 1992). They wanted to take a few volunteers from our crew down with them. I was initially depressed and discouraged and wished I could go with them. Then I thought about my situation and realized that there was no reason I couldn't. I asked my immediate supervisor, who gave his okay and then went to the group that was assembling.
Guess who was in charge of the volunteers? Yup, it was the OOD who was impressed by my Pier Sweepers performance a month earlier! He very cheerfully approved me for the trip and I was on my way! I packed a few things into my duffel bag and walked over with the other 20 or so sailors who were approved for the trip. We tossed off our duffel bags at our assigned racks (Our sleeping areas that contain a bed, a under-the-bed storage area and a small stand-up locker for shoes and hanging shirts and pants) and went back up to help load a food shipment onto the ship's mess decks.
The next day, I introduced myself to a female Petty Officer First Class (Two ranks above me). and she said she remembered me and noted approvingly that I was a hard worker. We had gotten off on the right foot!
The trip to Miami was good. I got a Letter of Commendation out of it. We didn't get ashore much, but I got into town on our last day there.

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