The Non-Rated Mess
By: Garland Davis
Remember the days when you were fresh out of boot camp, a Seaman Apprentice or maybe even a Seaman. It seemed as if everyone with a crow on their arm was convinced that you were the dumbest son of a bitch ever born on the continent of North America. They used you like a tool, abused you, and everyone told you that things got better once you “learned the ropes.”
There was a place where you could meet with your counterparts from other divisions and other ships. It was a place that belonged exclusively to non-rates. It was a place where you could, whine and bitch about the Petty Officers, the Old Bastards, the lifers, the Chiefs and other assholes whose sole entertainment in life seemed to be making your lives hell.
The dumpster area on the pier was the place where we congregated to dump shit cans, smoke cigarettes and compare notes on who worked for the biggest asshole.
“Christ man, what’s it like on your ship. Do you have a bunch of gut heavy old farts who sit around all day drinking coffee and talking about old decommissioned rusty assed Fletcher class tin cans that they used to ride? Old brain dead bastards.”
“Yeah dude, we got ‘em. And a bunch of brown baggers who just try to get you qualified for watches so they can get you to standby for them on duty days so they can go home and poke the Old Lady. They show you pictures of their kids and the cheap bastards only want to pay five bucks for a standby.”
“When you joined the Navy and got orders to a can, did you think it would be like this?”
“Hell no, I was looking for adventure. I expected to be in a gun mount instead I get to drag a fuckin’ 2 ½ fire hose up and down ladders during the day and then I have to stay up all night baking bread, sweet rolls, and cookies. I hate baking fuckin’ cookies. Soon as I get ready to hit my rack, we go to G.Q. and I got that fire hose again. Maybe they’ll let me sleep in one of these days.”
“You ever see a recruiting poster with a smiling sailor holding a chipping hammer and a wire brush? A dirty apron? Hauling heavy-ass shitcans a half mile down the pier to the dumpsters? I don’t think it would hurt them to space the dumpsters out, like one for every couple of berths.”
“Those things always show some First Class Gunner’s Mate buying flowers for some good looking virgin in some exotic port or guys in whites riding Rickshaws in Hong Kong grinning like Cheshire cats.”
“Life on these old cans suck. The AC and ventilation suck. The chow is worse than my step mothers and she couldn’t boil fucking water. No offense Davy. Man, I think they stuck us in the bottom of the barrel.”
“Yeah! When you’re aboard on a non-duty day because you are broke, the Jackasses find shit for you to do. Davis, Johnson, Bennington, and Sparks, the can behind us is getting underway and you got line handlers. Muster on the Quarterdeck at 1615.”
“Fuck man! We’ll miss chow.”
“I’ll tell the cooks to save something for you.”
“Shit, that means Ham and Cheese or Horsecock sandwiches and leftover Brussels Sprouts.”
“Sounds like you been reading my diary.”
“See that new DLG over there? I hear that it is air conditioned, has modern Galley equipment, plenty of storage space. They even have little blue privacy curtains on the racks and a built-in reading light. That way you can read a fuck book and beat off in privacy.”
“You’re shittin’ me?”
“No shit. They are cool and clean. I hear they smell like a high school cheerleader’s skivvy drawer. Everything is bright and new.”
“Anybody going to L.A. Friday? I’m looking for a gas sharing ride.”
“Anybody got a smoke?”
“Damn man, you quit buying them and took up bumming?”
“I’ll pass on the sermon, Davy. I notice you don’t have a problem helping drain beer pitchers when you are short of coin.”
“Gimme a cigarette. Man, you need to smoke something besides these strong ass Chesterfields. Got a match?”
“Beggars can’t bitch. What are you a pussy? Can’t handle a man’s cigarette?”
“Good evening gentlemen.”
Good evening sir.”
“What’s going on?”
“Just dumping trash sir, smoking cigarettes, cussing our Petty Officers and swapping Bible stories.”
“Well then, carry on,” the Lieutenant says as he moves on down the pier.
“Aye, Aye sir.”
“You know that guy?”
“Nope, probably off that DLG. I think they are SOPA. Probably inspecting the pier. There’ll more than likely be some shit come down tomorrow about hanging out at the dumpsters.”
A year or two later we were all sitting around our respective work centers, drinking coffee and ragging on the non-rated men.
“Hey, tool! Yeah, you kid! I wish you would hurry up and get signed off on Sounding and Security watch. I need a standby. I give you five bucks. I think that new barmaid at the P.O. Club is ready to give me some pussy and I’d like to be there when it happens.
We had become everything that we had bitched about.