Happy Valentine's Day!
Yesterday was a circus. I did manage to get my physical done.
One of the newer medical assistants asked me about a scar. She's probably pretty new and somewhat naive. Like most men that have made their careers outside working with tools I carry well over a score of various nicks and scars.
I told her I didn't remember where I got the one she asked about.
She looked a bit incredulous and seemed shocked I couldn't remember so I looked at it.
"Oh, that one," I said.
She looked at me and I said, "I was celebrating my tenth birthday getting drunk with my old man in a whorehouse. While we were checking out the girls when some sailor was all coked up and came at me with a busted beer bottle. I was a little faster and stuck him with my switchblade before he could hit me twice."
I expected a look of horror but was pleasantly surprised.
"You really don't know where that scar came from, do you?"
"Most guys that worked outside don't. It's just another day. I probably patched it up with duct tape and went back to work," I replied.
She gave me a thoughtful look and said, "It goes with the lifestyle, huh?"
Actually she may have been inexperienced but she was at least intelligent and willing to learn. She's OK.
Now comes the rough part of the physical. I have to get the form checked out by the Coast Guard.
The main office is in WV but my Regional Exam Center is in Toledo, Ohio and the people there are great. I will send my form to the Toledo people who will go over it with a fine toothed comb and forward it to West Virginia. That way things will go through reasonably well.
I used to have my file in Baltimore because it was semi-convenient. I could just go into work a day early and have things taken care of.
However, something there changed and they became difficult to work with. I heard that Toledo was a good REC. I checked the map and found it was actually a little closer and I went past Camp Perry so I moved my file there.
It was the smartest thing I ever did. Those people there have been wonderful.
Quite a while ago one of the Coast Guard muckety mucks started bellyaching that a lot of guys were having their files moved to another REC. He was going to get to the bottom of it and stop people from 'shopping' around for a new REC.
I had a friend that lived no more than fifteen or twenty minutes from REC Baltimore and he moved his file to Toledo because he felt that Baltimore got too sticky to deal with.
What happened is that some of the places simply obeyed the law as written. Other places added additional requirements above and beyond what was required. They did this because of the phrase "Or as directed by the OCMI." They made the requirements more stringent.
Of COURSE guys are going to avoid a place like that and for a while a lot of people simply moved their files to a location that simply obeyed the law as written with no added crap.
When a guy meets the requirements for an upgrade in his license or document he wants it upgraded. He doesn't want to hear that some local honcho has turned the REC into his personal little fiefdom and is making his own rules. Quite often an upgrade means that there is a pay raise involved, sometimes a substantial one. We are talking money here in many instances and that is nothing to fool with.
About 20 years ago I had a problem upgrading my ticket because of some arbitrary crap at the REC. Fortunately the company I was employed with at the time had been having too many of their people getting cheated out of their upgrades and they backed my request up with a lawyer. I got my upgrade.
Still, that should not have happened. I yanked my file and moved it shortly thereafter.
A few years back the Coast Guard centralized everything. Now everyone is playing on the same page. Things seem to go fairly smoothly. The RECs no longer administer the sailor's files and issue licenses. That's done in West Virginia. Instead they simply administer examinations and do a few simpler things to assist the people in WV. It is actually a fairer system.
Still, though. I shoot every bit of my paperwork through the REC because they will inspect it and make sure it will go through easily and save me having to mail and remail things.
My advice to younger guys is not to get involved with a seaman's career because it is only going to get harder and harder to keep one's license. I have said this before and I will say it again, the more the government gets involved the more troublesome something becomes.
To find out why the blog is pink just cut and paste this: http://piccoloshash.blogspot.com/2009/12/my-feminine-side-blog-stays-pink.html NO ANIMALS WERE HARMED IN THE WRITING OF TODAY'S ESSAY