Thursday, January 19, 2017


It has been 6 years since I shed the ottoman footstool I bought in Karachi Pakistan and took, along with the wicker chair, back to my stateroom on the mighty flagship of the Middle East Force over 30 years ago. I have different foot stools for my comfy chairs above and below and neither of them has a pile of cushions on them that my feet can burrow into when they feel cold. Nonetheless, when I don't think about it, as I read into the night, one foot or the other, sensing it is cold, attempts, futilely to burrow under the cushion it rests upon.

Funny how memory works. I remember using just pure muscle memory to open safes or dial phone numbers that I could not remember. I could let me fingers do the walking on the safes, and to be honest, I was the one that set the safe combinations for almost 30 years. I could tell you stories about setting combos on COMSEC safes and still shudder at the memories.

One of the things junior officers had that nobody else did on warships long ago, oddly enough, was privacy. One could, or not, lock the stateroom door behind one each morning but there was every expectation that nobody would step foot in there after one left because, who would? For some of us the stateroom served as an auxiliary office but most of us had an office. I might lock up property belonging to one of my sailors but he had no expectation of seeing me lock it in my safe in the stateroom and didn't expect to be there if I removed it to return to him. I don't think anybody came into my stateroom (except my room mate) the whole time I was a division officer (2 ships).

The XO's office was right outside his sleeping cabin. I was in there a lot for one reason or another. Same for visits to Ops in his stateroom but no separate cabin for Ops. I don't actually think the Operations Officer had an office on first ship. The only place I used to see him was in his stateroom. The Cheng had a desk in the Logroom, the First LT had a desk inside the Deck office. The Dr and Dentist both had offices in sickbay and the office of extraordinary relief from pain....but I used to chat with the Doc in his stateroom.

You picked up on the difference right? Only the captain and the Admiral had cabins. The rest of us, staterooms. It proved impossible to get that right in my head on the Queen Mary 2. I kept saying stateroom and people would look at me like I was crazy. s'Okay, I can live with it.

In my stateroom, which I shared for awhile, I had Persian carpets on the deck which is one reason that my older sister's Persian carpet has toothpaste stains. I had a wicker chair that was supremely comfortable, so comfortable in fact that my little sister asked if she could borrow it when she was brooding her eldest. As I recall, she talked me out of the hassock which came back without the lamb skin pillow but with several alt pillows about 5 months later.

As a department head, XO and CO, everybody used my quarters as an office. The one I most disliked was the unfortunate soul who tried twice to hold bible study in my stateroom. I might have pointed out to the youngster that this place was where I got the 30 minutes of sleep a day that kept me going and maybe pointed at the .45 hanging on the hook on my side of the door and told him I wasn't afraid to use it.

And so we return to the hassock of foot memory. Feet remember.

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