I received this story from Erik Gilliam, a Navy veteran, and had to share it with you – it’s a classic (reprinted with permission).
Your recent cartoon, “Sometimes its good to look up”, reminded me of the following sea story.
In the early ‘80s I was part of a Navy detachment that was deployed aboard a Coast Guard cutter operating in the North Pacific. While onboard one of the crew gave us the grand tour which included a stop on the bridge. For our ‘tour guide’ the highlight of the stop on the bridge was showing off one particular piece of equipment. (The passage of time and my deep technical background as an HM have left some of the particulars about this piece of equipment rather fuzzy.) As I recall that the equipment could track multiple targets which, we were told, was very useful when they were conducting fishery patrols. But the coolest thing about the equipment, as we were shown, was that it had a moveable plot and a ‘timer’ that would track the time of the plot when it was moved across the screen. I had understood the value of tracking multiple targets but the significance of this feature escaped me so I had to ask, “Why is that so great?”
With an enthusiastic gleam in his eye the Coast Guardsman replied, “If you move the plot down the screen weaving between the grid marks on the screen the timer shows how fast it takes you to move the plot from the top to the bottom of the screen. It’s like playing Down Hill Racer.”
Choking back a chuckle I asked, “And what does the C.O. think about that?”
In all seriousness our tour guide replied, “Well, he’s kinda [upset].” We nodded, we thought, knowingly.
“Yeah, Master Chief has the best score and the C.O. hasn’t been able to beat him.”