Thursday, April 23, 2015

More from Memoirs, One Place and Another

Chief Petty Officer Jones (not his real name) was one of those characters you meet along the way during a naval career. He came along as we checked into a hotel in Madrid prior to reporting to our duty station. The chief had been in the Navy close to thirty years by then and considered this to be his last station before retiring to civilian life. Among the chiefs I had known, he was not the brightest bulb in the garden, but he was easy to get along with. One of his favorite sayings was, "That's what they do" and never explained who "they" were. If anything was changed or something new introduced, he would say "That's what they do," no matter the reason or subject, as if whoever made the change did it purposely to confuse everyone, e.g., if there was an increase in your tax withholding, "that's what they do to make sure you don't have enough to live on, or so you don't get all the last pay increase. They want to keep you dependent," or something else.

Chief "Jones" had been married to a woman that he divorced not too long berfore he was ordered to
Spain, and most of his pay went to support her kids from a previous marriage or marriages. We spent some off-duty time together occasionally, but later on he took a 30-day leave and returned to Kansas, his home State. When he came back to Madrid, he told me he had remarried, this time to a woman who had 10 or 12 kids. Asked why, he said he had known the woman for some time and he thought he was in love with her, besides he received more money for support of all those kids. To his way of thinking, he was walking in tall cotton and he was working all the angles to get as much money as he could. His wife and kids stayed in Kansas. I still wonder how long they stayed married.

On a trip to Kansas, we stopped in Olathe to see if we could find him. And we found a person with the same name in the phone book, so I gave him a call: Hello, hello. I'm looking for a retired Navy Chief with this name and who said he lived in Olathe. He retired from the Navy a few years ago. "Well, that's my name, all right, but I retired from the Marine Corps. I don't think I'm the person you're looking for."  Sorry to disturb you and have a nice day. It wasn't his voice, either, so I'm still wondering even now, even though I'm sure he has kicked the bucket. It's one of those nagging little things "they" do.

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