Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Christmas Day 1978

The nice thing about being in the Military is the routine. There is always a fish dish on Fridays in the Mess Hall, and downstairs in the wet mess, the beer is always cold. Not such a bad life, all in all, unless of course you are the Duty Corporal. There is always a "duty corporal" selling meal tickets to people who don't have meal passes, and he cards visitors at the wet mess all evening. He wears a hat all day, and is not allowed to drink.

Being a Duty Corporal is an all day job. That is to say, it starts at nine in the morning, and goes until nine in the morning. In Uplands Air Base, there was a billet in the barracks that the Duty Dog would attempt to sleep in. The Duty Corporal was one of those positions where you can mess up really easily, and get zero credit for doing things right.

Along with a handshake from my CO, my promotion to Corporal was accompanied by a request to see the Base Chief Warrant Officer. In the army, this fellow would be called the RSM, but in the Air Element, we called him the Base Chief, though not to his face of course. I expected to get my first Duty Dog Duty that day, and sure enough, thats what it was all about. Pick up the cash box, hang around the HQ for a briefing and a HUGE ring of keys, go draw my blankets and make my bed at the barracks, all the usual rigamarole which goes with a minor military duty like this. I remember this particular briefing quite clearly however because the Base Chief asked me to (get this!!!) "shut the door, sit down and I want to make you a deal".

Base Chiefs don't make deals with Corporals.

"Its coming up on Christmas next week, and I don't want to put a family guy in the job as Duty Corporal. Most of the other Cororals who are "living in" are on leave this Christmas...but you are in Aircraft Servicing, and THEY don't get holidays. Here's the deal...you work the Christmas Day, and I won't assign you to a Duty for a whole year!

I thought about that one for about 2 point five seconds. Secondary duties play havoc on shift workers, and to get out of this one for a year would mean at least 5 or 6 times that my schedule would not be thrown wonky by sudden sleep pattern changes. So, I agreed to it. Then, (OMG!) he actually shook my hand and congratulated me on my promotion!

So you guessed it. I was there for the next three years, and for the next three years I did Christmas Day Duty.

1 comment:

justagirl said...

Oh my. Good on ya, Bill! That was great to do that so the "family guys" could be at home. And great that you got to dodge Duty Dog.