Sunday, March 4, 2012

Ninety-nine percent times three

They don't understand When I was a child, my grandmother said, "Everybody has an opinion. Everybody has an _ _ _ hole, too. Ninety-nine percent of the time, they are only good for the one who has them and usually, they both stink." Many years later, a woman I worked with told me, "A person's perception is ninety-nine percent of reality." A few months ago, I posted another reference to ninety-nine percent, when I quoted someone who stated that ninety-nine percent of our nation's population is protected by the one percent who comprise the military. I have an opinion about some members of the military who have a skewed sense of reality, based on their perception. You see, in November 2011, I started a blog called It's not a Sailor's Life for Me because I wanted to bring attention to conditions aboard the USS George HW Bush on its maiden deployment. As a taxpayer, I was appalled to learn that my son and almost 6,000 other sailors on the United States' most modern aircraft carrier had been enduring more than five months with malfunctioning toilets, or, in military lingo - heads. Like most sailors who had been deployed, he said nothing; he manned-up and dealt with what was much more than a minor inconvenience. For almost half a year, they all dealt with the VCHT that did not vacuum, contain, hold or transfer as the system had been intended. Sadly, the ship had these problems upon delivery. Five months at sea, thousands of man hours attempting to repairjavascript:void(0); and maintain the system and yet, the ordeal continued. As unfortunate as it was that the heads weren't functioning, the sailors received orders that they were only allowed to relieve themselves in the heads - the ones they could find that did work - and if they opted to do otherwise, they could be subject to being called to Captain's Mast. That was when locks were allowed to be placed on the doors to heads that did work. Locks. On the doors to working toilets. On a ship that is larger than many small towns. Locks on doors to heads that only some could access and orders to use only the working heads. Not long after I started my blog, two Virginia newspapers picked up the story and not long thereafter, media outlets worldwide linked to those stories. It's a fact: in the Navy are "boat people" and "squadron people." It's also a fact that my son is one of the squadron people. I get it. They are rivals on the same team, if you can believe it. The boat's company spend much more time on the ship than do the squadron's company. It's almost like having a cousin who comes to visit from time to time, but doesn't live in your home. I get it. I really do. What I don't get, however, is why those who "live" on the ship didn't rejoice when the combinations to the locks were reset to a common default. Would you have your cousin, even the one you don't like much, visit and then lock him out of the one room with working toilets? Instead, they create cartoons meant to insult, leave them on car windshields of squadron members and then say, "You're not going to tell him, are you?" My son sent me the photo, linked above, and said he found it amusing that they are still focused on him, rather than on fixing the toilets. Of course, the ones with the cartoons probably have working toilets. The VHCT system on the ship isn't scheduled to undergo repairs until May. In my opinion, that is far too long for tax payers to support our active military to wait for properly working toilets. My reality, based on my perceptions, is that my blog made a difference - good or bad - it made a difference to at least 1% of 1% of the sailors on board the Bush. The locks were opened and the captain said he will recommend an upgrade. That's all I wanted.