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.
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.