Just let it go

Sometimes you just have to let it go.

Even though I don’t have much grey on my head, I have more than a few other reminders that I am no longer as young as I once was. Its a bit tougher to walk the plant I work in during the winter months but I still give it my best. I take a few minutes longer to respond to the complicated questions that come my way but I find that it is better to let the question ferment for a second or two longer so that I develop the right response. But every once in a while, one of the youngsters catches me off guard with a condescending comment that is more a reflection of their age and inexperience than it is to my ability and life achievements.

The plant is getting ready to go into a twelve day “turnaround” common to the oil and chemical industry. I don’t mean to diminish the event. It will be twelve days of very intensive activity where the slightest mistake could mean the difference between success and failure. Frankly, in the industry, it could also mean life or death if the wrong things happen. Even in a small plant like the one I work in, disastrous consequences could result in mistakes.

Today, as I was leaving for the day, one of my young “colleagues” was finishing some task and I mentioned in passing that it had been a pretty challenging day. I was referring to a number of events related to labor relations having some interesting twists and turns. My young colleague turned and looked at me in an almost disdainful manner and with his three years of work experienced said “Well, its going to get a lot harder… it is turnaround.” His disrespect dripped with every word.

I used every bit of self control not to answer him in a more appropriate manner.

Bob fire fighting



0 587 outbound SSN 711 CCC


Before he was even born, I had already been on three submarines and did the equivalent of dozens of twelve day “turnarounds” in foreign ports with no rest during thirty day and longer refits and shipyard periods. What my shipmates and I accomplished kept the free world safe from the enemies that lurked off of our shores. We worked and sailed in dangerous times with an enemy that was sworn to destroy us under the right circumstances. Months underwater facing dangers that still remain clouded in secrecy. After he was born, I served on two more submarines and frankly worked more in a year than he probably has in his entire life. As the Docking and Damage Control officer on the largest floating drydock in the fleet, my crews successfully and safely docked five nuclear submarines. The planning alone probably equaled all of the actual work this boy has ever done. My final assignment as the M and A division officer on a large submarine support ship had my day starting mainly at 4:30 AM and frankly I am surprised when he shows up at 8:00 AM most days.

Hunley 1994

I’ll go back in tomorrow and still beat him to the work site by at least an hour. I’ll do my work over the grueling twelve days to come. I’ll even manage not to be too hard on him as he struggles to endure his toughest test in at least a year.

I do have one wish though. I wish he was even a tenth of the man or woman who ever put on a uniform and actually did something that mattered before he was disrespectful to an old man he neither knows nor understands.

Thanks for your service indeed

Mister Mac

Surface surface surface

11 thoughts on “Just let it go

  1. Like the message. But just think, there were probably some “old” people that we disrespected without realizing it when we were his age. He’ll get the same treatment in about 35 years.

  2. Totally agree I work for Texas Instruments in one of there fabrication factories here in maine. 90 percent of the job is.showing up on time. It is one of the better paying companies up here. I am close to twice as old as some of th people that I work with they complain how tough it is. I just walk away as they really have no idea how easy it is. I think back to just a simple topside watch in the middle of winter horizontal snow having to walk down the pier at almost a 45 degree angle because the wind is blowing so hard. Not to mention the Long hours hand all the other things that need to be done before you can hit the rack. Ionesco guy says he would do great in navy. He is never on time, falls asleep in a chair after 8hours . Actually uses company computer to look for another job. Told him he would not make it through boot camp much less on board a boat.

  3. Wow Bud, you really hit it on the head buddy. I have some guys who are complaining about their lives who never made a single sacrifice in the world. Makes me sad

  4. Just in case you are worried about life after retirement. Stop. You can still do it all it just takes a bit longer. When you retire you get to pick the activity. Mine is running a blog and a small (5 acre) farm. When I go to the store I go during the working day. Retirement is great. Started working in 1958 and retired three years ago. Don’t know why it kept working.

  5. Were we once that arrogant and close minded as to what the elders around us could bring, such as wisdom, experience, and knowledge? Did we have the work ethic of a career welfare recipient? And finally, did we picture in our minds the old farts knowing nothing what it is to grow up in today’s technology? I THINK NOT!! It was the old guys on the boats that ensured we knew our places as well as when we should speak and for how long. But to an even greater degree, they filled our brains with knowledge, not only the technical but also about life. They divulged their wisdom in ways that would offend today’s millennial’s. But we were intent on listening and watching and feeling every thing they could convey to us, as one day we would be them.
    That day has arrived, we are them and I wonder sometimes if they felt the same way about us as we feel about youth today?

    I too understand that feeling of answering less quickly as to ensure I respond accordingly. I like to call it my 10 second rule. It works very well when confronted with a snide comment or sarcasm. If I wait the 10 seconds, I can respond in a manner consistent with my experience and wisdom. And within the response, I can usually convey a bit of irony or at least inflict a wound to indicate that “Old age and treachery will always beat youth and exuberance”.

    But the saddest part of all this is, we are witnessing the rise of a generation that has the misconception that the world owes them something. A generation of entitlement. As a hiring manager, my number one characteristic I look for, above all the training and skills is dependability. But for the last 16 years of hiring and firing, it has come to this.

    Great blog Bob!!

    1. Amen Randy. In a perfect world those of us who served would all love closer together and enjoy these conversations in person. Thanks for the feedback

  6. Another excellent piece, Bob. I can surely relate… as a manager of a small manufacturing concern, I’ve gone through a number of undependable types. I’m pretty hopeful for the crew I’ve assembled now though. And the replica of the Los Angeles that sits beside my Qualified In Submarines certificate serves as a reminder of the high standards I try to maintain and the example I strive to set each day. Any one of them will tell you they still can’t out-work the ol’ man. And, they take it as a personal challenge to try harder. So, keep up the good work and set the example. Only those of us who’ve been there will ever truly be able to relate, brother. And there just isn’t that many of us. But, as I’ve reconnected with our unique brotherhood, I see that many of us continue to maintain the integrity of the fabric of our society… even though at times it SEEMS as if all we sacrificed for is unraveling all around us. You are a man of genuine faith and benefited, as did I, from the example of a hard-working, Godly father-figure as well as the unequaled performance excellence and camaraderie of the US Navy’s Silent Service. Very few have been blessed as have we in that regard. Men like you and I may be the only such examples in these young peoples lives. Whether they grab the brass ring and run with it is up to them. But we can live secure in the knowledge that come what may, we may safely say “We did what we could, and gave our best.” Love ya, my brother!

  7. When I was a wee sea-pup, once in a great while, I’d get that niggling feeling that the youthful arrogance I held over some of my elders (read, %#&^% Chiefs) was probably ignorance, and that someday, somehow it was going to come back to haunt me. But it was usually a fleeting thought, until I met Senior Chief Workman. Before the first day was out, it was quietly let known through the sonar shack that this man had been one of the last TAD transfers (third Augment, for those who know Med Runs) from the Scorpion before her final, ill-fated voyage.

    I could never look at him and see someone who was a slacker, regardless of how little it appeared he did. And in looking at him differently, I began to understand the other chiefs as well, and it was like a whole new world of understanding came upon me.

    Some kids will never give a flying low-five about such things, and will never understand the connection between old and experienced, even when they are. But as long as submarines, and frankly warships of any kind that go to sea, there will always be those who understand, at least a little bit. Thanks for the note on this.

Leave a Reply to Debbie Cancel reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s