Ask Hot Chicks Dig Smart Men, Edition the Sixth, Part 1

Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Today's question comes from my platonic boyfriend Eric, who asks,
If it's not too personal to ask: I'd love to know more about your decision to join the Navy. (I hope that counts as a question, or set of questions.)

A related question or set of questions if it's not to personal: I'd also be interested in your decision to leave the Navy for the private sector.
Um, yes. Those are personal questions, and I've discussed it before in a vague sort of way. However, it might be worth exploring them in more detail, as those choices have fundamentally changed the course of my life. This one will be in two parts, I think.

On Joining the Navy, i.e., Part 1

I was a terrible student in High School. Terrible. I rarely went to class, I didn't do my homework, and I could always, always think of something I'd rather do. So as I approached graduation (by the skin of my teeth), I needed to make some decisions about a Plan. Because my parents, being the narrow-minded sticklers that they were, insisted I have a Plan that did not include working for minimum wage and living at home.

After drifting along for most of my senior year of high school, I started to explore the possibility of the military. My family has served the United States in uniform for over 150 years, and while military service has never been expected, it was always considered a viable alternative to college and trade school. I was the first woman in my family to consider service, though, so in that way I was something of an outlier. My parents tried to raise me to believe I could do whatever I wanted, any job, any profession, and I was still naive enough to think my gender wouldn't be an issue if I just worked hard enough.

I first explored the Marine Corps. My father was a Marine, and the Marines have always been the most exclusive of the services (more on that in a future post). So I approached the Marine recruiter that a number of my male friends had used to begin discussions. Well, in my first exposure to sexual harassment in the Armed Forces, the recruiter in question attempted to lay me rather than sign me up. This did not impress me, because while I didn't know shit about the Armed Forces at this point, I surely knew that a grown man, firmly ensconced in his military career had no business attempting to bed a seventeen year old high school student who was also a potential recruit. So I went next door to the Navy.

I had better luck over there, as the recruiters were all professional and reasonably honest with me about what the expectations would be and what my life would be like. I would never expect a recruiter to be 100% honest - they're sales people, after all, and their job is to fill their quota. I qualified for a large number of jobs, and selected Radioman, essentially a communications expert, and was scheduled to leave for Boot Camp in the Spring of 1984.

So the short answer to your question, Eric, is that I chose the Armed Forces because I needed a Plan that allowed me to live an independent life without benefit of college. The ethos of service that runs in my family pushed me towards the Armed Forces, which we have always considered an honorable profession. I chose the Navy because the Marine recruiter decided it was more advantageous for him to come on to me than to sign me up.

We'll explore my subsequent decisions tomorrow in Part 2. Thanks for your questions, Eric.

5 comments:

Eric said...

Thank you, Janiece! I apologize for forgetting that you once answered the second part of my question before, though I look forward to any additional details you might offer.

Although I was a good enough bullshitter to give the appearance of being a "good student" in many or even most of my high school classes, my senior year sounds a lot like yours otherwise. My personal politics being what they were, however, the military would never have been an option for me; I had some vague idea about getting McJobs while trying to make a go as an actor and/or musician, but while I did in fact have one actual professional acting gig, that was obviously a naive plan in retrospect. Hell, maybe it was in prospect, too. Anyway, after deciding the affordable way to move out was actually student loans, I sort of faked my way into college, which happily turned out to be mostly awesome.

The similarity of our high school attitudes raises another question in my mind, though, this one for everybody else: how many of the rest of you drifted through high school and winged your way into whatever? I suspect there's one UCFer who had his academic trajectory plotted from some early point and did exactly what he planned to do always, or will say it was so (I'm busting his chops a little, hope it won't be taken personally), but what about everyone else, including non-UCF-ers?

If anyone cares to answer, that is.

And thank you again for the response, Janiece.

-----

unicest: carnal knowledge with a family member related by identity. "Bob's mother caught him in the bathroom committing unicest while looking at a Victoria's Secret catalogue."

Anne C. said...

I won't say I "drifted" through high school, since I did the minimum to get high grades and therefore avoid the censure of teachers and parents, but I will say that wasn't very hard and I spent 90% of my time reading. I learned how easy I had it later, when I compared my experiences with those of my first college roommate. She went to a high powered HS in Bethesda, MD, and wow, did she work HARD. (She's now a doctor.)
I was made to Choose Something by my parents (going to college was a given -- I never considered anything else) and narrowed it down to Graphic Design, Architecture, and Writing. It seemed to me that the middle of those was the best way to avoid poverty and would provide me with the greatest degree of mental stimulation. This choice was made during the first couple years of college.
While I like Architecture very much (and am managing to stay employed though it's not as stable a profession as I had thought), I do wish I had been inclined towards a less consuming profession.

I did briefly consider jumping ship and becoming a computer programmer purely for financial reasons, when I was entering grad school (for architecture), but the classes weren't stimulating enough to sustain the impulse.

My retirement profession will be freelance writer and novelist.

flizer = a cheap knockoff pharmaceutical company.

Nathan said...

I was totally a drifter. If you've forgotten, I talked the Dean into giving me enough credits to graduate in exchange for spending my last half-year in Israel. He got elected to the school board, completely forgot to issue my credits, and it turns out that I never graduated H.S. (I only discovered this after college graduation when I asked my mother if she had my H.S. diploma.)

Warner said...

I drifted through high school, being interested only in band, theater and math, although physics was fun. At some point my mother had decided I would leave high school after my junior year and following in the footsteps of my older brother go directly to college.

There I really drifted being interested only in theater and the radio station. It was a very small liberal arts college and I was a proto engineer.

When they dropped student deferments I got hit with a low lottery number and checked with recruiters. Both the Navy and the Air Force would offer no guarantees on what you would do for a four year enlistment, the Army would guarantee an explicit school on a three year enlistment and I was qualified for anything. My recruiter suggested one course on the basis of while he knew nothing of it, other than it was electronics, the only people who asked for it had relatives in the Army. About 1 year later I was officially crypto, I had also stopped drifting and set a school record. The knowledge of digital that gave me, made me very valuable in broadcasting. I was the only person at my station who had a clue as to binary, much less octal or hex.

Theater, I've off off Broadway lighting design and Technical Director credits. Even got paid for one job.

filelalaine said...

I had it all figured out in high school: graduated with honors, went straight to college to study computer engineering, only to start drifting right before my graduation.

It took me a good decade to figure out where and what I wanted to be. I tried out a lot of hats until I found the one that fit. I am content with who I am now but sometimes I regret having been so driven so early. It burned me out, fast.

You have to be lost before you can be found.