Improvement Gone Bananas

I’m sitting in the Dallas Love Field airport watching the herd mentality at its worse because our flight is currently being portrayed as 35 minutes late ETD. It is rather amazing how air travel used to be a nice experience for the most part. Now it’s like stupid on hormones. What happened?

This led me to the bizarre antics of well-intentioned people who started with a good idea and screwed it up. Yesterday, i made the mistake of going to the Exchange/Commissary section of the 32nd Street Naval Station. It was amazing, amazing. When the back entrance  on 28th Street was blocked by about 75 cars trying to get in the gate, i made a left-hand turn and went to the main entrance on 32nd Street. It was worse. Fun.

For the majority of my time in the Navy, shore patrol and base security was manned by sailors in different ratings being assigned to the ship’s shore patrol or TAD by commands to the Base Commander to perform those functions.

Some brilliant bozo, probably a lieutenant commander who had not real promotion probability came up with the idea of establishing a permanent security force by establishing the “Master at Arms” (MA) rating. He actually sold the idea to a Flag Officer and lo, it came to pass.

Entrance to bases is now a nightmare, much like flying. Security, the professional MA’s, figured out how to be secure and thus have established one of the easiest targets for terrorists available anywhere.

By my estimate, there were at least 200 or more cars waiting to get onto the base through the “secure” screenings by the gate guard. With two well-placed explosives or two semi’s, terrorists could easily wiped out around 300-plus Navy personnel and dependents without ever having to breech the base territory.

Good thinking.

This all reminds me of one of my favorite AND TRUE sea stories. It has run here before. Years ago, my command sent a third class gunner’s mate (ratings have been abolished by current Navy regime, thus eliminating a system that has been part of our history since before our Navy was established. Another brilliant attention gaining gambit by a flag.

Anyway, this gunner’s mate was immediately assigned as gate guard for the morning. About mid-morning, an admiral being riding in his command sedan by a duty driver arrived at the gate. An increased level of security had been put in effect, and the gate guard had been ordered to check everyone’s id card.

This new kid halted the vehicle, approached the driver’s open window and declared, I need to see your id’s, Admiral.”

The admiral huffed and puffed, and shouted, “Can’t you see who I am, young man? I order you to let us through.”

The gate guard petty officer, thought for a minute, and then said, “Admiral, excuse me sir. I am new to this security stuff. Am I supposed to shoot you or your driver first?”

The admiral and his driver showed their id cards to the guard, and he waved them through.

And that’s what you do when you are waiting in an airport for a delayed flight.


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