I am much impacted by my 12 years in the US Navy. I recall clearly some of the experiences, lessons, and, indeed, miseries of those days. I spent time at sea in the Middle East. I spent 3 of those years flying back and forth across the Atlantic Ocean, supporting US submarines in their mission.
One of the memorable traditions was the short-timer’s customs. In those days, the most common tour of duty was a 4-year hitch. This means that about half the force would leave over the course of about 6 years, or about 8% of the force left per year, or 1% was leaving about every 6 weeks, so it was a pretty steady event.
It was interesting to observe the different attitudes of “short-timers”. They didn’t need to plan ahead for their next promotion, or even their next performance evaluation. They were generally excited about the coming conclusion of their service. Some kept up their work quality, others didn’t.
I think about short timers a lot these days. One of these days soon, I too will be a short timer. MORE importantly, we are ALL short timers. As I remind myself, and those of you who read this, we don’t have long on this earth.
In the case of Navy Short timers, many of them eagerly anticipated what came next. Likewise, with us earthly short timers, we have cause to look forward, eagerly, to what comes next. For many Americans, the here-and-now can be pretty sweet. Likewise, the career-Navy folks, seemed to enjoy their jobs well enough to stick it out 20 or more years.
But, eventually ALL Navy personnel will leave the USN, and all of us will depart this mortal life. We are all, and already, short timers. We will leave this life very soon.
I am excited about being a short-timer. I want to work as a career- guy, but need to ALWAYS remember, in everything, I am a short timer.
And so are you.