Tuesday, August 29, 2006

10 November 1955

God, what a day. Around here, we don’t do things gracefully—we go our own merry way with nothing to do but look at one another; & then the roof & walls fall in. Everyone & everything is on edge. 750 things have to be done this minute. Mr. Clower has five or six voluminous reports that have been lying around, gathering dust. But now they’ve got to be typed (eight copies—the most I can get on carbon copies is five—after that it’s all just a smudge). New mess cooks are lined up outside the window, waiting to check in; the guys they’re relieving are waiting to check out. Schnappauf, one of the MAAs, wants to change the jobs of ten or twenty others, giving the older guys the best vacant jobs. He wants the boards changed immediately, which necessitates standing on a chair, erasing names of those checking out, putting in the new, reshuffling jobs.
Each new mess cook must have an index card filed, aside from having his name, rate, division, job, & date he reported to mess cooking on the board.

To top it all off, we have the Geneva Convention cards. Everyone must have one before setting foot on European soil. It is a small white card stating that you, ____, are a member of the United States Navy, & your serial number is ____. This is so in case you are captured by the Russians, who wouldn’t obey the rules of the Geneva Convention anyway, you show them the card & they’re only supposed to ask you your name, rate, & serial number.

So we have 132 mess cooks. Over half of them don’t have G.C. cards. I’ve got to make them up. But Personnel, always tops in teamwork, doesn’t want to give me any. They don’t believe the mess cooks don’t have them. "Do you realize how many men we’ve got on this ship?" "That’s your problem—this is mine." I should have said "Yes, I know how many men there are—& I’ve got to worry about almost 1/10 of them!" And so it goes; fight, argue, bicker, plead—call here, call there; run to Supply, to Personnel: "The ship’s MAA says that rack you assigned me is already taken, so they won’t sign my check-in sheet." Call the MAA—explain patiently that that rack is now empty—that we will send him a correct list of all rack assignments as soon as possible. Back up to the MAA he goes—back again in ten minutes. "He still won’t sign it cause he says that rack is taken." Several handfuls of hair later, the dust suddenly settles & there you stand, ready to scream if one more thing goes wrong; but all is calm, all is bright. Peace settles over the Commissary office; Andy (the PPO –Police Petty Officer) & Nick get out the chess board, & I reach for a pen & paper.

Lost another hour last night, & another tonite. I think they just don’t want us to get any sleep.

At G.Q. today, a drill was held in which yours truly participated. It consisted of the OBA’s (there being two in my repair party) sounding tanks. The first one was an oil tank, with oil so thick & black it would stick to mercury—16’4" of it. Each team of two came equipped with the metal tape measure I described previously. What the drill was supposed to prove, I can’t say, since when the metal weight hits the bottom of the tank it goes "plunk" & you can’t help but tell where the oil reached when you reel the tape back in. Surprisingly, almost everyone got exactly the same answer. Next we sounded a void (or air ballast) tank, which had all of three inches of water in it. Water is harder to detect on the metal than the oil was, but luckily it was oily water, so we were OK. We only missed it by 3"--or 150% error

Chop suey for supper, so naturally I’m hungry. Caught myself singing Silent Night today (as witness "all is calm, all is bright" on the previous page). This has got to stop….

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