It’s been three months. More than that, if you don’t count my terminal leave as time in the Navy. I’ve got a nose ring, pierced my ears two more times, and dyed red streaks into my hair. But even if I look decidedly un-military on the outside, I’m still very much a sailor on the inside.
I have a new job, teaching, in fact, and it’s so completely different from the last six years that I’m still having trouble adjusting. It’s hard to remember that my coworkers aren’t sailors, that the students are just kids, and in their world, there’s no such thing as a “direct order,” and especially no real punishment for disobedience. I find myself tempted to hand out ass-chewings and eight-counts as forms of training and punishment, but that’s ridiculous, especially at the school I work at. This place is so different from the Navy, these children treated so differently from the way I was treated as a child, that it’s hard to keep up.
I have a few friends that are still in, and I’m actually dating a sailor that I met on USS Last Ship, but they are my only link to the world that I knew for the last six years. I envy them. No, seriously, hear me out! Yes, there were parts of Navy life that were unbearable, that’s why I wanted to get out, but let me tell you, getting out is a LOT harder than staying in. Allow me to explain:
Money. My paycheck has been quartered. QUARTERED. That means I make 1/4, or 25%, of what I made when I was enlisted. I made FOUR TIMES MORE IN THE NAVY. That’s ridiculous. Try paying bills when you only make like $250 a week. In freaking San Diego.
Healthcare. Yes, I was separated due to PTS, so I got six months of TRIcare Prime, meaning that I still don’t have to pay for health insurance. But my version SUCKS. I’m sure any dependent can vouch for me when I say we basically have nothing, and it’s only good for horrific accidents that require immediate admittance to the emergency room by ambulance. It takes three weeks to get appointments. By the time we can get seen, whatever the issue is will have gone, or it’ll be too late. It’s ridiculous.
Simplicity. Everyone says the Navy’s the easiest job ever. They’re wrong. It’s not easy, it’s freaking hard! You never get sleep, you have crappy living conditions underway, your working hours in port suck, and there’s a ton of douchebags and losers everywhere. But it is SIMPLE. It’s so straightforward, a four year old can understand: you do what you’re told, or you get in trouble. THAT’S THE ONLY RULE! HOW hard is that to figure out?? In civilian-land, everything’s complicated, it’s delicate, and you have to know things like customer service, even if your job has nothing to do with it (case and point: ridiculous parents that make all these excuses for why their kid is a waste of space, and woe betide you if you tell them their kid isn’t a perfect angel – they freak).
Job Security. Okay, yeah, I got separated due to PTS, which is like getting laid off, but there were other stupid reasons behind it that I’ll get into later that should not have caused that outcome. Regardless, it’s pretty hard to get kicked out. Unless you’re a f#%&up. And then you deserve it.
I find myself torn between missing the Navy, and kissing the ground in gratitude that I got out. I suppose it’s possible to lament some things and not others, however. I guess I’ll just have to remember the good times, and be thankful that I don’t have to deal with all the bad stuff anymore, even though I now have all new bad stuff to deal with which, at the moment, seems WAY worse…