“Can we help you?” one of them asked.
“I want to be a sailor,” I said.
“Well, AM1 there can help you out.”
He stood up from the desk right in front of me, extended his hand and introduced himself. I shook it, introduced myself, sat down and we started talking.
When you go to join the military, they have to gauge your aptitude for skills and smarts. To do this, they make you take a test, kind of like the SAT, except they call it the ASVAB. To get a feel for what AM1 would be working with, he had me take a mock ASVAB in a little room attached to the office.
I remember marveling at the old computing machine, wondering how an Apple ][ was still able to function after so many years. I proceeded with the test and got a 72. I didn’t know much, but I remembered from my own times in school – as a student and as a teacher – that a 72 isn’t great. However, when I told AM1 of my result his eyes lit up and he said that was great and that I should ace the real thing. Not sure if he was pulling my leg or not, we proceeded to start the first of what would become a cavalcade of paperwork.
I don’t recall exactly how long it took that first day in the recruiting office, but when I finally got to work the cafeteria was opening up for lunch.
I went upstairs to my section and checked in with my supervisor. Instead of an expression of irritation which I feared, she had a look of concern on her face. She asked if everything was okay and I told her it was, took a deep breath, and made the whole idea of me joining the Navy as real as it could get by telling her about my morning.
She smiled, her eyes moistened and she gave me a hug, saying she was so proud of me, congratulating me on taking such a big step. When she let go, I’m sure I was blushing and I thanked her for her encouragement, telling her I didn’t know how long the whole process would take, but that I’d keep her updated and let her know as soon as I’d know when I may or may not be leaving.
After all, I had only taken the first step; I wasn’t sworn in, yet.
TO BE CONTINUED…