Archive for the ‘Nuclear Janitor’ Category

Change You Can’t Believe In

January 4, 2009

I reported to the submarine tender to work in Radiological Controls (RADCON). Before I could start, I had to clear medical before they would issue me dosimetry. Luckily, I had recently had a physical, so it only took two weeks. If I hadn’t had that physical, it would have taken four to six weeks. During this time, you’re pretty much useless.

Weekly field day (four hours of in-depth cleaning) occurred. Since I didn’t have any dosimetry, I couldn’t clean the work spaces, so I was assigned the locker room and the head (bathroom). My task for the next four hours was to clean these two spaces. The locker room took about twenty minutes. The head was a different story.

Picture the foulest gas station bathroom you can imagine. Our head would make the gas station bathroom seem like something worthy of the Waldorf-Astoria. The smell was overpowering. There was green ooze in all the cracks. Piping had a combination of stains and rust that were basically putrid.

I decided that since I had to keep busy for the next three and a half hours, I would do the best field day ever. I found some really thick rubber gloves and got to work. I scrubbed the toilet, the floor, the walls and the overhead. I disinfected everything, not once, not twice, but three times. I polished the piping and fittings. There wasn’t a trace of green mung anywhere.

Everyone was impressed. Our division officer was showing it off to all his fellow officers. I knew it was a good job when the women said that they would start using our head. They thought it was clean and safe enough to use.

That night, the engineering department messed up a valve line-up and overflowed the toilet. I came to find out that this was a monthly occurrence, which usually resulted in two to three inches of raw sewage floating in the head. The next morning the head was back to its normal status. All traces of my hard work were obliterated.

This story pretty much sums up my experience as an active duty sailor. No matter how hard you worked, or how much better you made something, the improvement was very short lived. Something or someone always erased it and set things back to the beginning.