Rats. I’m Going To Miss That Bunch. But I Got Some New Friends Out Of The Deal.

I got booted out of a Facebook group on Saturday. It was my own fault, I was honest and upfront. I have that bad habit. At least I try to have that habit. Being human it doesn’t always work.

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The group I got the gate from was the Cold War Submarine Veterans. I’d joined it sometime last year. The group was uniformly profane, crude, loud, obnoxious, and my kind of sailors. Yes, the vicious sort of scum with whom I spent my youth. I loved them all.

I had to leave because it seems that the rules of the group had changed. When I applied for membership I was upfront with the admins that I was never qualified in submarines. It was a rare bird that held my NEC (Navel Enlisted Code) package and still qualified on submarines. Submarine qualification isn’t quite like becoming an Eagle Scout. For one thing, a good Eagle Scout doesn’t drink like a fish and have a vocabulary that would stun a donkey at 20 feet. Secondly, again unlike an Eagle Scout, it’s a total lifestyle and not an accumulation of honors, badges, projects and participation that can move from one Scout pack to another. This is not to diminish Eagle Scouts – I never even tried. But to pull off the coveted submarine qualification generally takes doing it all on one, perhaps two, submarines.

You see, learning that maze of piping, electrical, weapons, life support, and communications systems that comprise a submarine is extraordinarily complex. I had a job to do when I was sent to sea on a submarine, and it took up all of my time for at least a quarter of my stay. Sometimes more. What did I do? Yeah, well, that’s still kind of a touchy subject, so lets just say that I was a big help to the captain and crew when they needed me to do stuff involving my job. The rest of the time I specialized in smoking, drinking coffee, telling lies, and sleeping. I did, miraculously, manage to slip in a movie here and there when I wasn’t reading Star Trek books. I even volunteered to do dishes for a few weeks just so I wouldn’t lose my mind. (I’d read all the books and had nothing to do.)

I have spent over 6 months of my life underwater. Before those of you with fish (qualified submariners) start throwing rocks at the nub (new, useless body) keep in mind the fact that I was not assigned to a boat. I jumped from place to place, did some surface deployments in the middle, and still managed to rack up that time in under 3 years at my duty station. I’m proud of what I did, I thank you all for letting me eat your food, drink your water, fill your sanitary tanks, and breathe your air even though I wasn’t officially there. I can prove it: just check my DD214. The trip to sub school is there, but a strange lack of submarine duty shows up on the rest of the form. Spooks. Go figure.

Back to the point: I loved doing it all. I loved the people, the job, the shared world. Nobody can explain it who hasn’t been there for a time longer than a week. That’s why I loved the group so much – every day was a reminder of all that I got from my time with those lunatics. I was proud to call them my friends.

So, on Saturday, I contacted the admin for the group and reminded him that I was not qualified in submarines. Don’t know when my special dispensation ran out, but I’d been let in by one of the old admins and it seems that it was a violation of the rules. I could have kept my mouth shut and continued to laugh at the whole crazy deal. But that didn’t seem right – the whole thing came down to honor. Either I was or I wasn’t qualified to be a part of the group. I sent my email, chatted with him for a few minutes, and then resigned from the group.

Wouldn’t you know it, within 30 seconds the admin, Jack, had sent me a friend request, noted my resignation as an honorable thing on the group’s wall, and invited me to join two other submarine related groups. I just expanded my circle of friends again. To another country as well, as Jack is English.

Will I miss my bubble-head friends? Yes. Will I enjoy the new crowd? Yes. Does it change who I am and what I’ve done? No. And that’s the best part. I keep my integrity, I have my memories, I have my letters of commendation, and I have new friends. The best of all possible worlds would be the old group opening up to those of us who were regularly with them but not of them. But I won’t hold my breath – that would be surfacing without air. Just ask a nub what that means.

The moral of the story? Keep your integrity up and all of the rest will follow.

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