A few days ago I needed to access Military.com to help an applicant locate his old Army records. I noticed the "Buddy Finder" icon. Hmmm. I wonder if I can find some of my old Navy buds?! I clicked it and typed in a few names. Each time a few names came up with rank and home of record state. I clicked on one in particular, my Chief from Ground Electronics at NAS Moffett Field, California. It showed he had retired as an E-7. I Googled his name. There was a
name and number from his home state. I hesitated but reached for my cell phone and dialed the number. Voice mail and I didn't recognize the voice.... but I left a message and forgot about it.
The next morning I got ready and went to work. It was drizzling and I remembered I had lent the keys to the Armory to one of my recruiters the day before. I was locked out. And it was drizzling. How does that go? Imagine a Drill Instructors rumbling voice saying "IT DOESN'T RAIN IN THE ARMY!!! IT RAINS *ON* THE ARMY!!" Indeed. I flipped open my Gov't. cell and dialed my team mate CPL Squared Away. "Got keys?" "Oh, I'll be right there Sergeant!" So I stood in the drizzling rain contemplating my day ahead when my cell rings, I don't recognize the number and answer "This is Sergeant Fields..." The voice on the other end says "Hello Sergeant Fields. This is Chief Salt."
Sometimes you can be in one place but are instantly transported to another place and time. This
was one of those times. I felt like I was a kid in the Navy again. I felt nervous like I shouldn't have called my Chief on the phone the night before. He was on the other end, what was I going to say? I felt like saying "Uh, sorry Chief, I didn't mean to disturb you. Uh, I'm an idiot. Please excuse me and I'll let you go..."
Then I remembered that GEEZ 15 years had gone by. He's a civilian now; I am a Staff Sergeant about to make Sergeant First Class (equal with a Chief). I relaxed and said in my biggest (unintentional) Southern Drawl "HAAAEEY! How *are* yew??" Imagine the syllables all drawn out. I instantly felt like an idiot again. He chuckled.
We reminisced for quite some time. He did retire, but now worked for the State. We talked about old friends "Have you heard from Margie and George?" (Nope). Chief is building a cabin on his acreage and lives alone with his blood hound. I told him about the kids and about the Payson, organic farming and my recruiting. We talked while I waited in the drizzle that felt almost like sea spray. I felt odd and sad. So much time had passed. I was a kid way back then. I had made a lot of mistakes but had also accomplished a lot. Had that much time really passed? I felt like I did the time I went back to visit my old elementary school in California. I attended Buena Vista Elementary in Oceanside. It was so SMALL and I remembered it so huge. I felt like a stranger interrupting in a dream. Dispelling the illusion with the truth.
I talked about deploying. He had spent sometime in the Sand. So we were switching gears, talking about the future, goals,
plans... this felt better. We discussed recruiting and the different missions of the Navy versus the Army. Soon CPL Squared Away arrived as we ended our conversation with promises to keep in touch. Whew, I breathed a sigh. Deep breath... yeah, I do believe I could smell a tinge of salt in the air! It smelled great. ;-)