Friday, March 27, 2015
Navy Humor - The Fight for the Admiral's Zipper - A "Sea Story" (It may or may not be true).
BEFORE READING ANY FURTHER, UNDERSTAND THAT THERE ARE NO COMPLAINTS IN WHAT FOLLOWS. I WAS HONORED TO BE SELECTED FOR AND TO SERVE AS A FLAG AIDE/EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT. MY FLAG WAS AN AWESOME GUY AND IT WAS A PRIVILEGE TO WORK FOR HIM. HE WAS SAINTLY IN HIS PATIENCE WITH ME AS I LEARNED
Being a Flag Aide or Executive Assistant to a Navy Admiral is very serious business nearly all the time. International travel with a Flag officer is a complicated process and can be a logistics nightmare. While never stated explicitly anywhere, it is understood by all in the Flag Office that the Aide/EA is responsible for all things (large and small/significant and insignificant) - even acknowledged "Acts of God". Responsibility for the Flag officer's care, comfort, feeding, and movement involves a lot of moving parts and can be further complicated by a senior officer traveling partner (in this case a Navy Captain) who may want to take on the role of Aide/EA.
For this particular trip, I've successfully moved my Flag from DC to London (where the Captain joined our 'party'), after a 6 hour delay by UNITED for an equipment (aircraft) mechanical issue. Spending 6 hours at Dulles with a seriously inconvenienced Flag officer can be a real drag on one's energy. - Do we go back home and wait? - What's wrong with the plane? - Why did you book this flight? - How long is the expected delay? - Can you get us another flight? - Have you notified London that we are delayed? - Should we get some dinner? - What does our new schedule look like with the 1,2,3,4,5, or 6 hour delay? - What events need to be rescheduled?
With many thousands of travel miles in the bank, my Flag traveled business class and I found myself free to relax in the comfort of economy class, far removed from the boss and the questions (none of which I could answer satisfactorily). We land at Heathrow and are met by the Captain and a vehicle with driver for the one hour trip on the M4 and A4 to London.
I'll jump ahead two days and move the three of us to Digby via rental car, driving through Stevenage, Alconbury, and Peterborough with stops in great pubs in each town. We received a Flag greeting at RAF Digby and were assigned a "sergeant at arms" to see to us. We spent way too long in the pub that evening before dinner and way way to long in the bar after dinner. The sergeant got us all safely back to our quarters. (I was a non-drinker back then).
The following morning, I had my coffee and went to check on my Flag in his quarters to get him and the Captain for breakfast before continuing our trip to Edzell. The Admiral was quick to answer the door in his summer white uniform and declared that his zipper was broken. Being that the Aide is responsible for all things, it was my immediate job to tell the Admiral that his zipper was not broken, but merely stuck. At this point, the Captain arrived. The Captain immediately forgot what the aide's responsibilities were and wanted to assist in resolving the zipper issue. Keep in mind, the Admiral is wearing the pants in this relationship. I know what my responsibilities are and proceed to pull on the zipper up the fly of the Admiral's pants, catching only the left side teeth. I am doing it all wrong and the Captain wants to correct my behavior and insists on a try at the zipper. Naturally when our battle over the zipper is at its zenith, with the Captain and I literally on our knees, and tugging on the Admiral's fly and his zipper, our sergeant at arms arrives to escort us to breakfast. He pops to attention and turns slightly away and with an aloofness and feigned disinterest that only the British can pull off, says - "Jolly well, I see you gentlemen are otherwise occupied, I will return at a time more convenient for all of you." With that, he walked away - leaving the Captain and I on our knees still pulling at the Admiral's zipper in opposite directions. Thankfully, he never came back. The Captain and I fought over the Admiral's zipper a bit more before I was able to get the slide back over the lower stop, connect the right/left teeth again (see the photo above) and zip the Admiral's zipper.
We made our way to breakfast and I was later able to make a complete and permanent repair of the zipper by sewing a new lower stop on the bottom of the zipper during a brief visit at the home of one of our Commanding Officer's while the Admiral was forced to wear the Skipper's wife's pink bathrobe in the process. The story about who walked in on us is even funnier and will have to wait for another time. The stuff our Navy Flags have to put up with is ridiculous.