Going to See the Commodore (the Wizard)

A commodore is a guy who is in charge of a bunch of Captains .. who are themselves guys who are in charge of (responsible for) an entire Navy warship. And everybody on it.

Nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarineAdmirals are in charge of whole fleets ..

.. such as the Atlantic fleet or the Pacific fleet.

A commodore is in charge of a part of that fleet.

Do you recall that scene in the Wizard of Oz ..

.. where Dorothy Gale and her three friends (the cowardly lion, the tin man, and the scarecrow) walk down that long hallway to go see the wizard?

Well, that is close to what is was like for me when I had to go talk to the Commodore. Because his office was at the end of a very long hallway. And I was shaking like the tin man.

Not really, but I was definitely on high-alert. There was much on the line for me as Master Chief and I walked down that seemingly endless hall. Much in the way of the future of my career.

I think it was better the way that the Master Chief did it. He just came and got me one morning (in the cafeteria, which was kinda my office) and said, "Come on, let's go talk to the Commodore."

<ignore this intentional text marker>

••• today's entry continues here below •••

And he sounded so nonchalant about it .. like this was something that happened every day. Cuz, if I had to think about it for very long, I would probably be freaking out.

Because the Captain had kicked me off the boat. After 4 years assigned to this thing .. he is the third Captain I have had. (I felt like I'd seen it all.)

Nuclear-powered submarine launching its ballistic missilesThis was at the submarine base there in Washington state.

You likely want to hear the story about what it was that got me kicked off the ship right near the very end of my enlistment ..

.. which could have ended in tragedy for me .. from a future-employment perspective.

So it's not like the stakes werent huge. El supremo.

And one day, about a month or two after I got kicked off the boat, the Squadron Master Chief, who I was working for, came and got me one morning and said,

"Come on, we're going to talk to the Commodore. Just tell him what happened. Just like you talk to me."

Basically it was immaturity and a short-timers attitude that got me kicked off the boat .. but that is not what I can tell the Commodore .. cuz that is not what the report says.

Anyway .. after walking down that hallway for about what seemed hours .. we arrived at his office. The freaking Commodore's office.

And the lights are dimmed. Very peaceful feeling in there. He is the only one, besides us. The Commodore was sitting behind a big desk straight ahead.

I remember really liking that the lights there were subdued, tho I had never recalled another office lit like that. Ever.

I wondered, "Does he always keep his office lit like this? Or did he dim the lights just for me?"

Which was right about the time that the Commodore says to the Master Chief, "Master Chief, what can you tell me about this petty officer?"

You could tell right away that this guy was very smart. You could hear it in his voice and see it in his eye. He oozed competence.

You could also tell that he knew what he was going to do before I ever set foot in his office.

Master Chief says, "Sir, this petty officer has been working for me since such-n-such a date. [A few months.] I find him to be a fine sailor. He does everything I ask him to and he does it well. Outstanding in many respects. He runs a crew of guys for me."

[ Working for the Master Chief was the easiest job I ever had. Which was curious in that the guys back on the ship were all working very long hours .. and particularly those who had to make up for my absence.

They would see me back at the base from time to time .. and I was always relaxed. From the minimal hours required of me. They, on the other hand, seemed tense.

I learned something about myself from that experience .. in that, if I don't (can't?) r.e.s.p.e.c.t someone .. then it's hard for me to hide it. That was really my problem, there. ]

The Master Chief was standing 5 or 6 steps to my right .. over by the wall near the door where we came in.

When he was done speaking, the Commodore swiveled in his chair and turned to me and said,

"Well, I would feel pretty good if I could ever get the Master Chief to say something so nice about me."

Which made me smile unexpectedly.

The Commodore and the Master Chief obviously had a close rapport, tho they tried to hide it.

Nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarineThen he said, "Why dont you tell me what happened .. in your own words."

I will tell you the story, but basically, the very next week I was getting out. EAOS = End of Active Obligated Service (6 years).

The rest of the story might get a little involved, so first let me say a little something about the loss of Philip Seymour Hoffman.

But just so your imagination doesnt run too wild, let me say simply that .. you do not confront a Commanding Officer in public. Not with other people present.

You can go privately to his stateroom, if you have disagreements with him. But if you confront him publicly, you almost force him to take action.

I *told* you I was immature, didnt i? Because I would never do such a thing now. But perhaps you can see how much of my success in the commercial nuclear industry involved developing the ability to bite my tongue. (Know thyself, oh callous-tongued one.)

If perchance I get distracted in the coming sections (.. you know how I am. Be honest.) .. uh, and I dont get back to this story .. then I should probably tell you the valuable lesson that I learned from this experience.

This will no doubt earn me mega nuclear-grade karma points.

And here is it (drum roll, pls) » Even if the Captain says, "You suk," it doesnt really matter .. long as the Commodore says » "You're golden."

I must admit .. that was a good feeling .. walking out of there. It made me feel good to know that the squadron was in good hands.

Tho today .. from a contemporary view/perspective .. of the maturity I have gleaned along the way (.. much of it the hard way) .. I can't help but look back and think » "Dude, you were outta control."

» "Watch yourself, young Dedalus will have your ass."

James Joyce | Age 6 (1888)

My experience with going to talk to the Commodore reminds me of this story that I read ..

.. about [ audio-book, narrator Donal Donnelly who has a robust Irish accent ] ..

.. of Joyce (as a youth) going to talk to the Rector about a punishment that he considered unjust.

The only difference is that » he didnt HAVE TO go. (I did.)

But I didnt have to go talk to the Captain. That I took upon myself (.. like young Joyce).

And my problem was really with HIM (the Captain), not somebody else .. like it was with young Dedalus.

In the story, Joyce tells how his father later ran into the Rector, who told the story about how his son came and complained about a punishment he reckoned unjust.

And how the Rector and Father Dolan, who administered the unjust punishment laughed "famously" about it.

And the Rector says to Joyce's dad » "I told Father Dolan that he should watch himself .. or young Dedalus [ young Joyce's name in the novel/story ] would have him up for twice-nine."

Twice-nine was the maximum punishment the Jesuits in Early Twentieth century Ireland could administer to students. Nine whacks with a ruler on each hand.

So, in other words, the Rector, who ran the whole local church (both religious and financial) said to the priest who whupped young Joyce » "You should watch yourself. This boy will have your ass." =)

Yes, the story is a little complicated to tell .. but so worth the telling. In a number of different ways.

In the story he gets whacked for needing a new pair of glasses (Joyce had a long history of eye problems) .. but he had already sent word back home (this was a live-away school) ..

.. and Joyce's dad (in real life) ran into money problems and lost the house and couldnt afford to keep his son in school.

So he taught him o.t.h.e.r things.

To hear him tell the story, you might come to believe that Joyce's dad [ "the governor" ] was a FLIRT » "He was the handsomest man in Cork, I tell you. The ladies would stand in the doorways to look after him."

His writing has a wonderful poetic feel that takes you back to late nineteenth century Ireland. Both Dublin (more cosmopolitan) and Cork (more country folk).

The end. ■

I have since read about the story of the apostle Paul .. and how he had » "appealed to Caesar" .. which has a certain melodious ring, no?

I thought of my adventure to the commodore's officer when I read that story. ■■

Radified home

<ignore this intentional bottom text spacer>

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Rad published on March 15, 2014 3:15 AM.

The Thunder Cometh was the previous entry in this blog.

Philip Seymour Hoffman (1967-2014) is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.