Saturday, September 26, 2009

Band-Aid Sticker Remorse

This is kinda out of order, but I had to vet the post through a trusted friend before publishing it.
It’s 11 pm. I can’t sleep. I keep thinking about the band-aid sticker I had my guys put on today. I’ve mentioned it before…we had a hole in the engine room above the waterline, and our Maintenance Planner decided that we didn’t have the time or the money to crop out the bad metal and replace it, so they directed the contractor to patch it. The patch was about 8 inches tall and 40 inches long…just the right size and shape for a band-aid. The Maintenance Planner even called it a band-aid in an email.

So I figured I’d be a smart-ass and paint it like one. We got a sticker instead. Call it like I see it, and all that.

But now that it’s on the ship…on the side that’s alongside the pier, so nearly impossible to get off right now…I’m rethinking my attitude, especially in light of my revelation about positivity. There’s really no way for me to get it off until we get underway and switch which side we’re moored up to. And that won’t be until we arrive at the Coast Guard base, at which time, plenty of people will have the opportunity to see it. (We actually moored up starboard side to the pier, which is the same side the sticker is on...the only people who saw it were the CO of the ISC who met us on the pier to make sure we had everything we needed (Many thanks for the great customer service), some other folks that were there to look at our server, and the line-handler.).

Why the remorse? Because no matter which way I spin it (and I’m a damn good BS’er), I can’t make it out to myself to be anything other than me poking the system, the organization, our maintenance people in the eye. It’s placing blame when I’m really trying to get away from that game. Sure, it’s funny, but it’s also disrespectful.

What if there’s a camera crew for the local newspaper or TV station across the harbor at Aloha Tower and they get a shot of it? What would I say to them if they called me, as the Commanding Officer, for comment? “Yeah, I was pissed because the Coast Guard didn’t have the money or the depth of assets to fix every materiel discrepancy on our aging cutter, Right Now. So I made it graphically clear how I felt.”

While it might be true, there are much better ways to address my complaints…like going to grad school for a Masters in Public Administration, and then doing my damndest when I’m working at Headquarters on the Coast Guard’s budget to remember how frustrating it felt to take short-cuts and defer maintenance. And fight, Fight, FIGHT for the money that this organization needs to maintain the unique and dedicated service we provide to the public.

It’s been tough to remember what it’s like to be CO of a ship while we were in drydock. Ships and sailors rot inport…even the captain. But the closer we get to sea trials the more it’s building in me. I’ve wanted to be stationed on KISKA since I first heard about the 110 on the Big Island, eight years ago. I turned a couple of tough jobs into successes and volunteered to go to Bahrain for a year, just so I could position myself to take command of this ship. And while it sucks that a good chunk of my year onboard got eaten up with drydock away from homeport, I don’t want to squander my time as captain disrespecting my ship. I’m damn proud of her. And the Coast Guard.

That sticker’s gonna come off as soon as I can figure out how to get under the pier.


Anonymous said...

well Cap' , it is what it is. besides one could say it's a bit of humor.

Azulao said...

Could you slap a thin coat of paint on it just for now?

Hey, another band-aid!!!!! Hahahahaha!

If anyone asks you about it, all you have to do is laugh and say it was an inside joke and it's coming off, then talk about the great job your crew is doing.

Anonymous said...

Azulao, I love your suggestion about how to respond to anyone who asks.

I personally think it's hilarious (the band-aid, that is).