Long story short, Chris is no longer the Engineer on a submarine. There is no way to really sugar-coat the fact that he was “relived for concern” which is Navy-speak for “not doing the job we wanted in this situation.” You would think that this is the most awful thing to ever happen, but surprisingly, it is actually the most awesome thing that has ever happened. I say this with no sense of sarcasm which for me is kind of a big deal.
Now, some of it is sucky. The whole thing went down with the usual naval lack of professionalism in that everyone else in the gossip mill knew it was coming, except the people in question. The time line required for this kind of removal means that the Commanding Officer must have been planning this move since within days, if not hours of Chris’ arrival leading me to wonder what chance he even had anyway. Lastly, for a boat that didn’t seem to feel he was a good fit, they were all more than willing to use his technical skills and political contacts to get through this recent certification exam that they were totally set to fail until about 5 weeks ago. Those bits kind of suck, I am not going to lie.
However, we are thrilled because, well, how can I put this? We are done with this now. The best analogy I can think of is when someone who has been very sick for a long time passes away. Yes, you are sad, and you miss lots of things about them and there is the grieving and the knowledge that things will never be the same, but there is also that huge sense of relief. You know that this really is a better situation for everyone including the suffering sick person. It is just like that. The submarine experience in question was a giant fight against an insidious cancer and now it is done.
So how will all this play out? We are not too sure yet. Chris reports to a mystical organization known as Squadron today and he will find out all the details. He has been relieved of this duty, but he is not fired from the Navy. He is still employed, getting paid and collecting benefits*. He will probably get placed in some kind of office job so he can serve out the rest of his contract then we will detach from the Navy. Basically, odds are highly in favor of the fact that he will just keep getting the all same pay and benefits for doing a third of the work while having lots of time to job hunt. Can someone show me the downside?
UPDATE: He will work at “Group” until his paperwork is processed; we then play a shore-duty slate and spend the next three years doing office work. This completes his contract to the Navy (we do have to pay back a bonus, but we have the cash so whatever), grants us job security and health benefits for three more years and allows him to fulfill the requirements to pay for our kids to go to school on his Post 9/11 GI Bill. Oh and did I mention the part where the big-wigs basically apologized to him for all this and offered him work on their pet projects? I should have because that is kind of the best part!
As far as our personal lives go, this is a lifesaver. Now that we are (hopefully) clear of sea-duty, we are finally able to talk about the things in our lives we had been ignoring. Our marriage had been put on the back burner, and it sucked. The kids have some issues, nothing they wouldn’t survive, but now we can do so much more for them. Chris was miserable and borderline physically ill from the 100 hour work weeks and psychological torture. And me? Well you don’t have to read too many recent blog posts to realize that I was one crisis away from a complete psychotic break. (When he told me I, no joke, broke down and wept in relief.) Now it is (probably) no more deployments, no more slave-labor style hours, no more missing life events and struggling with running the lives of four people with one little frazzled person at the helm.
I know that the phrases “we didn’t want to stay in anyway” and “it is all political” should be filed directly under the heading of “things losers say when they get canned” but honestly, we had a three year plan to leave the service, now it is oh wait, still a three year plan (with no sea time) and the total political mind-fuck that this whole thing has been is more than I can even describe here. I am dying to see how it all shakes down since the aforementioned gossip mill is running high of the fumes of “how on earth do they remove a guy like Chris K---?” and lots of people have their fingers in this here pie. (See the UPDATE above.) However, we can watch as casual observers since we are short timing now.
And it feels just fine. Mighty fine indeed.
*Honestly they can’t afford to fire him even if they wanted to because there is no money in the budget to process the paperwork. Every year when the fiscal year turns over the Naval funding system basically shuts down. No one gets to move, repair boats or get orders printed because (and you can’t even make this shit up) they don’t have the toner required to print the orders. Yup, the whole United States DoD can’t do work for 4-6 weeks due to office supply shortages. You see why we are not too bummed to be getting out? I think you do.