At one time, us squids (Navy Sailors) were notorious for brawling. Shore Patrol used to have their hands full with nightly incidents, bloody fights that cleared out the bar. Thankfully (or not, depending on your old-school love), those days in our naval service are all but over.
From a personal standpoint, it’s been years since I’ve fought in a real fight, not one in Krav Maga class. And I did not expect to be danger-close to putting my dukes up in my two-week naval staff class.
My Navy community is very small, specialized. We embed with the warfighters and (technically) have our own warfare qual. And for the last three years I’ve been working at a job where I am surrounded by folks of the same feather. Yes, I’ve gone out on ships and worked on our systems, but I’ve always had our office to return to.
So in class, I got mildly perturbed when my community was mocked. Granted, I opened my big mouth to explain certain technicalities. I tried to minimize the damage, but one of the aviator instructors in the class took glee in calling me a brain surgeon. Right before he gave me a trig problem to work out. In front of the class. I have a weakness for trigonometry, but I refused to answer his question. Even though I could’ve figured it out (with the assistance of a cosine table.) I know a set-up when I see one.
Meanwhile, a surface warfare officer’s been chuckling under his breath about my community. The first couple of times, I gaffed it off. Sure, we are nerds, but we are the Navy’s nerds. Right? And the guy poking at us outranks me (by a rank) and just came off being the skipper (CO) of a very small warship. I should just take a little of their gruff good-naturedly.
Except I can’t always laugh stuff off. I turned to the Commander from my community and wondered aloud how he felt. He shrugged it off. Older, wiser maybe. Fine.
A day went by, and then two. A chuckle or three again at our expense. I’m not too angry. They are actually funny, if only directed somewhere else. At a break from instruction, I go into the bathroom to do my military duty. At the urinal, the SWO pulls up next to me, the one who has been chuckling about us. And he mutters our name under his breath. I let it go, but later after he returned to class and tried to get by me, I hulked over him. I’m much taller than’im, but he looked like a wrestler. He glanced up at me, surprised. I wanted to tell him I was fixin’ to knock his teeth out if I hear any more of his mouth, but I don’t.
After I got home, I googled him. (Full confession, this cyber-stalk does not speak well of me, but I was getting tired of the run-around. I might as well learn who was going to cost me a written counseling.) And the first mention of the guy on the internet is for him being an All-American rugby player! Well, All-Americans bleed, right? Now I know how the Air Force guy in our cubicle feels when we pick on baby blue…
Update: So, after a week of class, I am happy to report that me and my Shipmate are getting along. Honestly, I think it was something petty and minor that made the difference, but I could be wrong. During this second week, I’ve been wearing my khakis rather than my aquaflage. And my ribbon rack shows a guy whose done a fair amount of operational jobs. Maybe this brought him around and shut him up. That All-American did not know how close he came from getting an old-fashioned whuppin’. (Heh heh. . .)