America Day 39 – Flags and idiots

The bay in Annapolis is full of boats. All of them flying pennants. “What the hell is going on? I’m new in town,” I ask the man with the badge. Behind me a DJ cranks up the volume on “Uptown Funk,” even though the average age of the crowd here is 70. “It’s the boat show, man! This is the biggest event of the year here.” “All weekend? Do I have to pay?” “Yep. But it’s cheaper tomorrow. Twenty bucks.” It might be interesting if I was in the market for a boat…

I just spent nine on a cocktail. A Painkiller 2 from the delightfully named “Pussers.” I’m sitting here looking at the boats. It’s like watching “remember the good times” day at the old folks home. Hawaiian shirts and baseball caps and sunglasses and grey hair and smiles. These people have pain, in that they just can’t decide which boat to buy next. Still they’re making the best of the decision making process. Happy old people, rich old people. I can’t afford a boat dammit. Been working hard for years now. A boat or two of my own would be nice, sure. And a house by a lake to sail it by. But it might be a few more years before I can afford such madness.


I was recommended this establishment by my ensign, Sam. We have a Second Lieutenant and an ensign assigned to us here. Desiree and Sam. They are incredible. Recent graduates. Calm kind thoughtful and driven. Desiree is going to be a marine, but she is injured right now and looking after us. I got to know Sam a bit today as he drove Katherine to the urgent care to get a $200 prescription for antibiotics. Thankfully we have health insurance. But yeah. $130 for the doctor. $70 for the medicine. Her tonsillitis is amoxicillin resistant. This is her second course of antibiotics. Fuck knows what she’s on now. Scary to think how we are passing the point of no return with these lifesavers, mostly because of the meat industry. Both of her courses have been shorter than I would have expected. I suspect another week of the amoxicillin would’ve finished it. She only had a week. Is this habit of only giving one week of prescription in the US part of the problem?

Anyway, I was writing about Sam. Sam has nailed it. He leaves Annapolis next week to go to Florida and be a pilot. “I don’t know what I’ll be flying,” he says. “But I’ll be flying. That’s what matters.” He’s 21, maybe. Little moustache. Short and compact. He’ll do well. He wonders what his callsign will be. He thinks it might be to do with hats, as there’s the word “hat” in his surname. He hopes it will be, anyway. “There’s a guy who’s callsign is poopy. He pooped himself on a long flight. Only piddle packs are provided.” Imagine being callsign Poopy. “I’M A PILOT I’M FLYING FIGHTER JETS OH MY GOD ALL MY DREAMS ARE COMING TRUE”. “For the rest of your working life and even into retirement no matter what degree of heroism you attain you will always respond immediately and firmly to the name “Poopy”.

Sam won’t get a duff callsign. He’ll be flying over us tomorrow as he works, just by chance. This is his goodbye week to Annapolis, and he spent time helping a sick actor get antibiotics.

Still, these two highly evolved human beings, and the five of us with all of our professional empathy – none of us could overcome the civilians whose job it is to organise the parking passes for USNA.

My dears, we have all experienced blind idiotic bureaucrats. We have all experienced fuckwits with no capacity to tell the difference between theory and reality. We have all experienced human beings who take strange pleasure in obstructing other human beings. We have all had the computer say “no”, heard that the simple thing is “more than my job’s worth.” We have all been dehumanised. We’ve been overlooked, ignored and demoted. This all fades into insignificance compared to what the indifferent, unhelpful and actively disruptive humans at gate one of the USNA are capable of with smiles when they set their minds to it.

They had to do an unusual thing, to let UK actors drive rented cars onto the campus. They literally couldn’t handle it despite the forms all being filled out. Everything that could be blocked was blocked. It was almost childish in how pathetically transparent it was. The navy can roll with it, and worked it out by just sending ensigns and second lieutenants to drive us. The civilians in the accreditation office though – they are constipated minds.

As we walked away after we had been blocked enough that it wasn’t worth our time, I looked back, and our final obstructive human happened to be looking back at I turned. We made eye contact, and I saw nothing in that face but the satisfaction of triumph.

Dear USNA gate 1 civilian staff: please look at yourselves a bit. It’s almost funny how incredibly obstructive you are. You’re making work for the brilliant lieutenants and ensigns assigned to guests like us, and you are doing it by literally being the shittest humans you are capable of being. Grow up. Learn that unfamiliar things are not always bad. Expand just a bit. Don’t set yourself in opposition to these amazing humans you are trying to be gatekeepers for – they have all the empathy you lack. See what you can learn from them. The navy are great. You suck. I judge you by your actions. Go hide under a rock. I have no further interest in you.

Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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