I went back to work yesterday.
Perhaps what I should say is "I visited the old office yesterday." (OK, TH, you can wipe the spewed nasal milk off the monitor now.) I've been outta there for three years and never had any reason/interest to go back, but friends of the family are in town this week so we finagled a tour.
The tour brought back all sorts of nightmares fond memories that I'll doubtless be reliving at 2:30 AM for months to come, but what really impressed me are the changes. For example a simulator's computer has been upgraded from a 286 to a Pentium. (No kidding. You can't rush change, so they kept the 9-pin dot-matrix printer just in case.) At that same simulator, one of the troops connected an old thermal imager to a B&W TV for a monitor that cost, uhm, ZERO and will probably be implemented at all submarine trainers next year. (Your tax dollars at work, folks.) Another simulator was renamed for a WWII submariner whose heroism saved his ship but who was only recently awarded the Silver Star. Now the students pass by his memorial for an example of how their new skills could help their on-the-job performance.
It was good to see the troops, too. I got a few "Who the heck are you?" reactions from the new staff, but they were muted by the high-fives & hugs of those whom I haven't seen for months. The contractors are enjoying life now that our job-quality changes (started five years ago!) are finally producing the benefits. One of them is retiring in a couple years and he's eager to learn more about how we did it. I was flattered to discover that the guy in my old job has marketed some of his ideas by saying "I discussed this with Nords and..." He's planning to ER in about five years (when he reaches his 20 years of service). A shipmate and I rediscovered each other after a decade; he's teaching there and his kid goes to school with mine. Another of the instructors left the command in 1997 (as I was arriving) under a shoplifting conviction but has returned a changed man-- completely turned his life around, the father of new triplets, advanced from E-4 to E-6, hit the top instructor qualifications, and he's bucking for chief petty officer. He's already a success whether he promotes or not.
Our friends couldn't stop talking about all the cool things they saw and the neat people they met. Their 18-year-old daughter is asking an awful lot of questions about the Navy.
I'll probably be going back someday for lunch. And I think I'm going to have to give some surfing lessons...
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