1973 went by really fast. I still had an occasional bout withfoot-in-mouth syndrome - but I felt I was getting that under control.One of the chief's called me aside one morning after muster -and wanted to know if I was ready for the rating exam coming upin two months. "Naw, I don't have any reason to take the test."After all - you have to have 4 years in service - and a year inrate - to even qualify - and I didn't have squat in points - andin the Navy that's how advancement works. A complicated formulae- but the simple explanation is: Take your current Rating Examscore - add accumulated points for time-in-service, time-in-rate,carry-over points, etc. and you wind up with a final score. SinceI was 10 months in rate, 46 months in service - and had nevertaken the E-6 exam - (hence no "carryover" points)...no chance: why bother. He invited me to join him on the weatherdeck - and he started ripping me a new - er - ah - tail. He'dhad enough of my mouth - he didn't think my "worth"as the best technician in the squadron outweighed my caustic attitudeand occasionally detrimental impact on division morale by my occasionaltactless outburst of disapproval of the most recent policy reversal.While I admit I had been quite guilty of not exercising tact onoccasion - this attack was so pointed and vehement - I was juststunned. I didn't know what to say. He stood there a moment -eyed me with a deadly glare that was nothing short of hate. Thenit hit me. Some time back - I had zipped into the shop and severalpeople were gathered around a test-set. They were trying to finda fault in it. I just stuck my head over a shoulder - glancedat the schematics they had spread all over the bench and a largetable - took a test lead out of someone's hand - made a couplequick measurements - and announced that the problem was a shortedZener - reference number umpteefrats - then went on my way. Theyhad been looking for the problem all morning - several hours -and I walk in and point to the part in roughly 90 seconds. I didn'tthink anything of it at the time - I'm supposed to knowthis stuff. But now the guy who hadn't found the problem in severalhours - the guy I grabbed the test lead from - was three feetoff my nose - and now I'm trying to figure out what to do - whatto say. After all - my mouth was my biggest asset - and my worstenemy. There was a long silence. I started to say something. Ihad some notion about apologizing for being tactless or arrogantor something - but as soon as I started to open my mouth - hesnapped "I'm not interested in anything you have to say.Frankly I think you just skate along doing what comes easy - butI don't think you've got the "guts" to tackle somethingyou're not so cock-sure of. Prove me wrong." With that - he turned and walked off. Stunned? He could have hit me in theface - and not had any more impact. I gave that conversation alot of thought over the next few days. -
The "home entertainment center"
Turned out he had orders- and was leaving the ship... so I saw almost nothing of him afterthat. But he had hit a nerve. I had gotten a little too comfortablein doing "what was easy". So I decided to give the exama real shot.Even today - nearly 25 years later - I'm not surewhat all of my motivations were - he was gone - showing "him"became a moot point. No it really came down to showing me. SoI started studying. I found out that the "time" requirements don't matter just to take the exam - as long as you can meet the time requirement by the time you are rated. The test day came - I took the test. I couldn't have chosen the subjects better myself. Lots of general theory, not too heavy on RADAR, and SPS-10 at that - which is what the Proteus has - and the only one I'd actually worked on. The communication was on R-390A -and Teletype - which I had an R-390A of my own at home - and amodel 28 TeleType. CV-591 - yup. The last section - ElectronicsNavigation? SINS. geez my exact specialty. I had to admit - inspite of knowing the odds - I had given it my best - and thatfelt pretty good!