I joined the Navy Reserve in the spring of 1999 through the Advanced Pay Grade (APG) Program. APG was for non-prior service folks to leverage life and work experience to forgo the normal 8 weeks of boot camp. The typical enlistee would see a recruiter, take the usual battery of tests, and choose a rate. The initial pay grade was dependent on education level and applicable work experience. Sometime during the first year of drilling, the enlistee would attend a 12-16 day abbreviated boot camp. If I’m not mistaken, the Navy has done away with the program, and all non-prior enlistees now attend the full 8 week boot camp at Great Lakes.
I enlisted as a Seaman (E-3) in May of 1999. I was issued my uniforms, got all my shots, and was told to report for duty the first weekend in June.
Some of you may have already seen the flaw in this cunning plan. Granted, Navy uniforms aren’t all that complicated, but can you imagine being handed a stack of clothes and being told when to show up and be expected to know what went with what? Don’t even get me started on protocol. I somehow muddled through without getting too much of an a$$ chewing before I got to APG School and was taught what jacket went with what uniform.
In any case, there was one drill weekend in that first year I remember quite well. We were wearing the old winter blues, which consisted of a black shirt, black tie, and black pants. It was known in the fleet as the “Johnny Cash”.
Did I mention that I had a cat at the time? Yeah. That’s important to the story.
So there I was, standing in line for something, and I hear a voice behind me.
LCDR: Seaman Jeopardy, do you have a cat?
Me: Yes ma’am. Her name is Hester Prynne.
LCDR: Thant’s nice. Seaman Jeopardy, do you own a lint roller?
Me: [gulp] Yes ma’am.
LCDR: Seaman Jeopardy, is your lint roller in your car?
Me: [trying to look casual while frantically picking cat hair off my uniform] No, ma’am.
LCDR: Perhaps it should be…
Me: Aye, aye, ma’am.
After that, I never left the house without a lint roller. It was the month after my cat died when I stopped carrying it with me every drill weekend.